Why making meaningful connections is more important now than ever before

April 29, 2020
If we work together, take care of one another, and focus on the positives, we will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.

By Billy Hamilton, SVP Human Resources -- Motion Industries

To stay in shape, I run a five-mile loop through my neighborhood several times a week. On most of these runs I see the same few people, also exercising, and we go through the same routine every time of barely acknowledging one another. We casually nod, or wave, in a very robotic way, but that is the extent of the communication between us.

However, beginning in March, I noticed a seismic shift along my path. With each day that passed, more people were walking, running, or biking through the neighborhood. Couples, groups of kids, and entire families became commonplace, especially when dogs were involved. In addition, not only did I see more people, but the level of interaction increased exponentially. I met, and spoke, albeit at a safe social distancing standard, to more people in my neighborhood in a six-week period than I have since I moved to Alabama seven years ago.

People were smiling and engaging with others on their daily trek. It was then I realized, not only were people suffering from cabin fever due to a shelter-in-place order, but they also lacked – no, craved – a connection with others. Through those small conversations, fears were abated, tensions relieved, and spirits uplifted.

Now pivot to your place of work. Before most had to work from home, did you walk the halls of your office or factory only to nod or wave in a robotic fashion to those you routinely pass along your path? Did you take the time to introduce yourself to each new person you saw? Are you currently working remotely and only seeing coworkers on a video conference call a few times a week? If the answer is yes, an opportunity awaits if only you make minor changes.

If you have subordinates, and work in the same building, take the time to meaningfully interact with them. Ask them how their family is doing. Talk to them about something that is not work-related. Let them know you care about them. Ensure they have what it needs to be successful in these stressful times.

If you are working remotely, do not mail them to ask how they are doing. Call them, or chat with them over video. Take a few minutes out of your day to have a conversation with them in order to connect in a deeper manner. Remember, you might be the only person asking them these questions, and they will appreciate the effort. The respect you gain from those who report to you for taking time to connect with them to make sure they are doing ok will go a long way.

Another opportunity for renewed connections during our isolation is with your customers. Many companies restricted access to their sites at the beginning of the pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This obviously presents a challenge to connect with your customers, but it also means they are probably in need of communicating with you more than ever. The odds are, they were used to seeing you on a regular basis and miss the intangibles of working with you in person.

However, just because you cannot connect in person, does not mean you cannot meet their needs. Use video conferences when possible, as you can convey so much more using body language than just with words over the phone. Inquire what special challenges they are facing, offer your expertise to help solve those challenges, and let them know you are there to help make them successful. In addition, ask how they are doing personally, and give them a chance to voice any concerns or worries they might have. They will appreciate the personal touch. Be sure you reach out at least as many times as you normally did when you could see them in person to keep your connection strong.

Lastly, do not forget to take care of your own needs. Reach out to peers in similar roles to share any frustrations or challenges you are facing, as they might be able to help provide you with a solution, or at the very least, support you as you work through them. Seek guidance from mentors, as you probably already have a good connection with them and they know how best to push you to do your best. Call family members to have conversations that have nothing to do with work to keep your mind fresh. Reconnect with old friends you do not get to speak with as often as you like. Sometimes there is nothing better than a stroll down memory lane, reminiscing about simpler times.

It is more important than ever to make meaningful connections with those around you. It is good for them, for you, your business, and society in general. If we work together, take care of one another, and focus on the positives, we will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.

About the Author: Billy Hamilton
Billy Hamilton is currently the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Motion Industries. He has 29 years of experience in the field of human resources with companies such as Overhead Door Corporation and Lockheed Martin. He is passionate about talent management and data analytics. Visit MotionIndustries.com/plantservices and MotionInstituteOnline.com for more information.

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