As we move towards each other for meetings and teleconferences, and past each other, racing from task to task, we sometimes collide. Other times, we effortlessly meld into one glorious ballet of angelic music, harmony, and athletic poetry. In the business world, we label it teamwork or collaboration or synchrony, and we strive with all our might to rinse and repeat. We employ team managers with years of experience. We hire team consultants to work magic on our people. We pilot work environments that we think will instantly create a different set of behaviors. All the while, we are attempting to create something around our people or do something to our employees that we hope will ultimately result in an unending ballet.
There is one very simple thing we miss that can create a bond so incredibly deep that we just don’t think to do it…..because it requires engagement with people and between them that reveals meaning and requires vulnerability – and it takes up our precious time. It is, however, what makes the experience a real, memorable, and impactful encounter. The intent is not about productivity or behavioral change, it’s about grasping the foundation of who we are as humans, who just happen to show up to a workplace every day, whether virtually or in person. When we acknowledge each other’s journey, learn about each other’s story, and share, it creates the stage upon which the ballet can be performed with marvelous brilliance.
“Who are you, and why did you say, yes?”
Not – “What do you do?” Not – “What’s your job title?” Not – “How long have you been here?” Not – “Where did you get your certification or degree?”
Instead, it’s “Who and Why?” In answering these questions, people become very real and share what matters, why they showed up, and what they desire to create. Without being asked to, colleagues become storytellers, and we learn about their journey, what has brought them to our workplace at this moment, hardships along the way, and dreams they hope to fulfill. By virtue of sharing dreams, we identify the barriers that are keeping individuals and teams from performing, which can then be removed. We learn what the real motivators are; not the compensation package, and we learn to reinforce those; opening up the space for more of them to happen.
In those moments, people have the opportunity to be reminded that work is noble, and when we come together to design a day or an experience for those we serve, every morning, we have a chance together to get it that much more right, to be original, and to leave the things that don’t work for us as individuals and collaborators behind; to reinvent, to risk, to climb upwards, and to lift each other up. When we know who we are, why work matters to others, what our obstacles have been or are, and why we connect to what we are doing today, the bond grows much deeper. The inaccurate assumptions, the accusations, the gossip, and the stories that were created to fill a void fall away.
Next staff meeting, surprise your team and ask, “Who are you, and why did you say, “Yes!” to being a part of this enterprise, this team, this company, this journey.” You’ll be staggered at what you hear and also what happens after you share.