Are Your Executives Disconnected From Your People?

#Social Capital

Staying connected with your people is crucial for any leader, especially if your organisation is going through transformational change.

There’s nothing less motivating for staff than feeling disconnected from the executive team. It can suggest to them a lack of interest in their activities and welfare, or that their involvement isn’t valued.

If there are uncertainties during a change process, staff may be nervous about the future, so they will need reassurance, guidance and a clear idea of the vision that’s driving the change.

Social Capital: feeling connected

It’s important for leaders to be visible to their teams, to communicate effectively with them and to invest in the social capital of their business or organisation. By that I mean the social ‘glue’ that holds teams together.

Social capital is valuable: people need to feel connected in times of change. Let them know you’re there – reach out to have conversations with your staff. For example, catch up with them over a coffee, take the time to ask how they are, what they did at the weekend or about their latest holiday.

COVID-19 & work relationships

The COVID-19 pandemic is probably one of the most profound and far-reaching periods of change most workers have had to cope with in recent memory.

There has been a significant loss of social capital in work environments and it’s been harder for managers to support staff from a distance.

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, I booked a 30-minute call with every staff member just to touch base and see how they were going. I asked if they had any feedback and what was the best form of communication for them.

One responded that they had never had a one-on-one with the General Manager before. Unfortunately, I suspect that’s a common scenario in many businesses.

Impacts of Remote & Hybrid Working

One of the biggest impacts of remote and hybrid working over the past two and a-half years, has been how it has affected work relationships.

Being apart from colleagues has affected team morale, cohesion and communication. And for new staff who have joined organisations during this time, the effect has been even more pronounced, because they didn’t have established connections with other staff.

This was clearly spelt out in the results of the Microsoft 2022 Work Trend Index – a survey of 31,000 people across 31 countries.

The survey’s findings bear out those social losses:

  • 62% of business leaders are concerned new employees aren’t getting enough support to be successful during hybrid or remote work.
  • 59% of hybrid workers have fewer work friendships since shifting to hybrid work. 56% of remote workers say this since shifting to remote work.
  • 55% of hybrid workers feel lonelier at work than before shifting to hybrid. 50% of remote workers feel this way since shifting to remote work.
  • 43% of business leaders say relationship-building activities are the greatest challenge of having employees work hybrid or remote.

The statistics above, paint a vivid picture of what can happen when a team starts to become fractured by distance or lack of connection. 

Creating a connected workforce

Thriving relationships and a connected workforce make for happier and more productive teams,  help maintain a supportive culture and build organisational success.

If your business is facing challenges or going through significant change, it’s natural to put your head down and be consumed by the work that involves.

For leaders and executive teams to get full engagement from staff, it’s important to prioritise time to talk to them and ensure you all stay connected. That’s even more important if you have staff working remotely some or all of the time.