Do you struggle to make a connection with your team? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, in her research, Lou Solomon, CEO of Interact and author of “Say Something Real” has found that 91% of employees say communication issues can prevent executives from making a genuine connection with their direct reports.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review article, Solomon references Dr. Edward Hallowell, M.D., author and former faculty member at Harvard Medical School. Hallowell believes that connecting with others is one of the two most powerful experiences in life (the other being achievement). He describes connection as a mindset and an energy exchange between people who are paying attention to one another. He argues that if we focus solely on our need to achieve, we are unlikely to succeed at forming connections. To demonstrate this, Hallowell poses this question to his MBA students:

Who will influence you more and motivate you toward you best — the brilliant and well-published professor who has no time to connect, or the brilliant but less-well published professor who makes a connection with you as a human being?

Hands down, he says, it is always the latter.

Solomon suggests that too often, businesses fall short not because leaders don’t understand the business, but because they don’t make a connection with the people who work for them. They fail to understand what their employees need in order to bring their best effort to work. Effective leaders, she says, know that healthy communication requires the energy of connection and so they communicate to connect — with a focus on inclusion, recognition, clear directions, meaningful interaction and feedback.

In a world where human contact is at an all-time low, the need for human connection has never been stronger. If you want to make a connection with your team, Solomon suggests the following:

  • Notice & acknowledge employees’ unique, specific contributions to the team.
  • Show appreciation for employees’ efforts through public recognition at a meeting, a “thank you” in a newsletter, or a personal conversation, email or call.
  • Proactively ask employees what they think.
  • Share what you know as soon as you can share it – real explanations are always better than no explanations.
  • Create a culture of healthy, constructive & continual feedback.
  • Get to know employees by name. If the company is too big, start with the people in close proximity.

…and don’t forget to check out my Communicate to Connect program!