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Social Bonds Matter Leaders should build strong relationships with their teams By Morag Barrett In an article, the Harvard Business Review found that social bonds were the major predictor of team success. The other two were “initiatives to strengthen relationships” and “leaders who invest the time to build strong relationships with their teams.” If team success (and individual success) is dependent upon social bonds, then it would follow that spending time getting to know the team members, and articulating the rules of engagement for the team would be a good investment of time, right? Creating these social bonds is much easier said than done. With the advancement in technology, email has become ubiquitous, to the point of actually undermining performance! In a recent program presented by my team, leaders reported they each received several hundred emails a day. While email may be keeping leaders tied to their desktops or with their smartphones permanently available twenty-four hours a day, it is also preventing the creation of meaningful connections at work. I’ve experienced this in a large telecommunications firm, where an egalitarian approach backfired. We were a company of cubicles. You could walk corridors but not see anyone. People used email to chat with team members twenty feet away, and we wondered why there wasn’t a real bond! Contrast this with a working environment that was completely open: no walls, no hiding, and no excuses. Team members could simply raise their heads and talk to the person next to them. It led to a much different environment, where camaraderie and team relationships flourished. Don’t get me wrong, we still needed “quiet time” away from the hubbub of the office, and a private place to hold confidential conversations. I am not suggesting you start knocking down walls to build relationships (although now that I think of it—yes I am—the metaphorical walls that prevents us from getting to know the person in the next office). My experience in both of these environments shaped my credo: “Get off your butt and go talk to someone!” Even when teams get together to plan how they’ll achieve a goal, leadership excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2014 74


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