As I got ready for BIF7, I remember a key event from last year’s BIF6. Sitting behind me was a nice, unassuming guy. We struck up a conversation. As a result, a wonderful friendship has developed (which is easy to do at BIF).
This guy was Michael Lee Stallard. Three years ago, Michael wrote a very important book underscoring this very point, Fired Up or Burned Out. It was inspired from his own career experiences on Wall Street and Texas Instruments.
Michael’s point is that companies need to help their people achieve their potential if the company is to grow. The way to do this, while most call it ‘engagement,’ is by really truly connecting with your people and getting them to connect with each other. It’s not the formality of cross-functional meetings; it’s the depth of understanding and really connecting at a personal, even one-to-one level with your people.
Many companies go through various routines, some genuine, some perfunctory, to connect – town hall meetings, newsletters, videos, intranet discussion groups, picnics, etc. These are important ways to share information and help employees feel included.
But if there isn’t a real personal connection at some level, in some way, they can easily ring a bit hollow. This can be very threatening and confusing – it means making yourself vulnerable to those who work for you – but perhaps you really work for them!
In Michael’s book you learn how to start “connecting” with examples of how others have done it right, and wrong. He provides questions to ask yourself and others to get a feel for where you are and a roadmap for creating real genuine connections in your organization…ones that can make a big difference. Interestingly, three years later, we are seeing this theme gaining traction and recognition.
In my professional life, it is the connections – relationships – trust that have gotten me to where I am (which is a good place) more than the achievements (patents, papers, etc.). I had tremendous mentors at Bell Labs and AT&T, great clients who challenge me and wonderful colleagues who stretch and teach me.
This holds true in my personal life as well, with incredible parents, family and friends. The adage – it is all in who you know is really about how you know them as well. Read Michael’s book – it’s very worthwhile and worthy of your time. It can make a big difference for you personally and professionally…in fact, read it with your people!??p.s. I will be discontinuing my blog on my site and just blogging at Forbes.com and Innovation Excellence so please follow me there and share what you’d like to hear about!
Deb, founder of Mills-Scofield LLC, is an innovator, entrepreneur and non-traditional strategist with 20 years experience in industries ranging from the Internet to Manufacturing with multinationals to start ups. She is also a partner at Glengary LLC, a Venture Capital Firm.