4 Ways to Enable Connections

4 Ways to Enable Connections

Premise:

One of the most important steps in driving any kind of transformation is the ability to rally around teams that are impacted by the transformation. One of the reasons many transformation efforts fail is existence of resistance for the transformation effort.

It is critical to address this resistance if we want to have a good chance of success. Here are 4 ways that we can bring people together as team so that we can understand the existence and the reason for the resistance. Once we know this, we can then address the same openly.

Shared Purpose

The easiest and the fastest way to get people to come together is when we have a shared purpose. Shared purpose creates a sense of ownership among all the constituents. It is most powerful when the shared purpose is shared not just by employees but by customers and partners as well.

However, creating a shared is simple but not easy. It is simple if as an organisation, you hire employees, partners and invite customers who already share your purpose. This also pre-supposes that you have a clearly defined purpose.

If this is not the case, then creating a shared purpose is a lengthy and a difficult process. The way to do that is to engage them all by creating shared experiences, having deep conversations and then building stories that would convey the shared purpose that has evolved as part of this process.

Shared Experiences:

One of the best ways to connect with people is to share experiences with them. This could be as simple as playing a game with them or travelling with them or even cooking a meal with them. The more visceral the experience, the stronger is the connection.

The more senses that these shared experiences involve, the higher the potential of the connections being made. The more intense the emotions being expressed during these shared experiences, the deeper the connections could be.

This is why people in the armed forces, who have trained together and serve together, generally share a strong bond with each other. Creating a meal together can have similar effect. So, can serving together or praying together. Whatever the experience, we need to be deliberate about designing them with a clear intention of building strong connections.

Deep Conversations

It is our innate need to have conversations with people around us. We have deep conversations with people we feel connected to. The other way around works as well, i.e., we tend to make connections with people we end up having deep conversations.

This is a tricky situation to orchestrate as everyone of us carries a baggage or past experiences and not everyone would be comfortable opening up themselves to others, whom they may or may not trust. So, we have to gradually build conversations that help people open themselves up a little-by-little over time.

We can use the shared experiences that we design to facilitate conversations, that can start at surface level and go deeper with every experience that we share. While, these conversations can happen organically, it is better to have a trained facilitator to facilitate these conversations, to ensure that they are deliberate and intentional. It also makes it easier for people to engage in deep conversations if they have some help from a facilitator.

Stories

Stories have a unique power. When told well, they can suck us into the story and help us experience the emotional ups and downs that the characters go through. They also have the unique ability to bypass our natural threat responses (how our mind works) and go deep and connect with our emotions directly.

Good stories are a quick way to not only build shared connections but can short-circuit all of the above. They can create shared experiences, enable shared purpose and create substitute deep conversations. Some of these stories can become legends by themselves, which continue to engage employees, partners and customers, years after they were created.

Since they are so powerful, we need to be very intentional about what stories we tell and how we tell them. It is also important to be intentional about who all tells this story, how often they are told and in what situations are they told. It is imperative that this be intentional and deliberate. We do not want to have the power of a good story work against us, which could potentially have significant negative ramifications.

In Conclusion:

Any transformation effort succeeds when it brings about a change in behaviour of the people it intends to transform. This is easier, if the behaviour change seems as the right thing to do to all concerned. It is also easier if people see the change happening all around them already.

In order for this to become possible, it is important that all of them feel connected to a larger purpose that they share with each other, a purpose that connects them all together in a collective journey or exploration.

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Author: Mukesh Gupta

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