Recently I had, what we like to call, an “a-ha moment” while listening to a sermon one Sunday. The minister made the observation that our society as a whole has swung to the extreme side of productivity at the expense of our connections. It hit me that this is one of the greatest ailments we see as coaches with our member companies and leaders – especially as of late.
We know the best performing companies are those that devote significant effort to creating a culture that their team members want to be a part of. And where does that culture come from? People crave appreciation in the workplace – and we’re talking sincere, heartfelt appreciation, not the casual “pat on the back” or quick “thanks” in passing. Real appreciation only occurs if there is real connection between people. Connection is valuing the other person more than yourself or having an “others first” mindset. It takes effort, vulnerability and emotion. True culture cannot exist without both of these key elements.
Unfortunately, though, in our “all about me” culture, connections tend to be shallow and unemotional. It’s not what can I do for you, it’s what can you do for me. As a society and in business, we have become so laser-focused on over achievement and beating the competition that our connections are receive little attention. Especially in today’s day where companies are striving to get back on their feet, push out new offerings and make up for lost time from the pandemic, connections are starving due to the demands of striving to win.
But at what cost?
There have never been higher instances of job discontentment, disconnected families, depression, suicide and overall lack of joy. Our extreme focus on production and achievement has come at a huge cost to society. Extremes at either end of the pendulum never end well.
Back to our coaching perspective, I think we have it right when we help our companies focus on culture by viewing their team members as human beings and not just a means to productivity. In addition, we all know you truly can’t separate the business side from the personal side, and that you have to be equally intentional in both areas to create the life you want – which involves real connections to who and what we love.
It’s time to swing the pendulum back, ease off the production pedal and give more attention to treating each other with compassion and putting others first. It may seem strange, but the companies that have done this well typically out perform on the production side too, because connection is a great motivator to betterment – both personally and professionally.
Gee, maybe there’s really something to the old Golden Rule thing.