Why “making it personal” is key in unlocking your team’s greatest potential (and how to do it)
“It’s not personal, it’s just business.” Everyone’s heard the cliche when getting passed up for an opportunity, fired, laid off, or a deal falls through.
In a way, saying this to ourselves helps take the sting out of negative work experiences. We’re able to protect our self-worth from disappointment. And vice versa, if you’re the one giving the news, it’s easier to de-personalize it. The business is the bad guy, not me.
But there’s a problem with taking humanity out of business. Because of course it’s personal. We are people.
It’s normal to take rejection or having to disappoint someone personally, especially if you had an emotional investment in the work you were doing or trying to do. And, while those feelings are unpleasant, they show you care. That’s not a bad thing! It’s the flip side of getting excited when you get promoted. One comes with the other.
The problem with transactional versus relational work cultures
After surveying approximately 5,000 people across several companies and cultures, one of the biggest gaps we’re finding in work cultures is that companies are now more transactional versus relational. This is a potential outcome from pandemic-induced, protective behaviors, as well as a shift to working from home where it doesn’t feel as natural to have a personal conversation over Slack. Any ecosystem in survival mode will move more into transactional behavior.
The consequence to a transactional culture is low employee satisfaction, high turnover rates, minimal effort, distrust, and self-protection.
To remedy this, it’s time to focus more on building meaningful relationships than what output or product you want out of that person.
“Taking it personally” works
I spent years running the brand, TheBump.com, a leading pregnancy website and community for new moms. We developed customized content based on where a pregnant woman was in her pregnancy.
We took our content personally. We put ourselves in our readers’ minds and thought, what would make us feel better about pregnancy? What would we want to know? What are our problems and fears? What would make us laugh or give us hope? The guys in the group wore a weighted pregnancy vest for the day to try to feel what our user was feeling as much as possible.
Empathy and taking it personally led to the creation of customer-centric content and products, building one of the largest, most engaged communities I’ve ever seen, more than doubling website traffic with natural significant increases in advertising revenue.
By being compassionate, feeling, people, we developed an incredibly deep, engaged, relationship with our users, to the point they called themselves, “Bumpies.”
People are emotional beings
As Kyle Hermans, CEO of Be Courageous says, “To create trust, collaboration and teamwork again, acknowledge that each person is just that – a person.” (See: Healing the Wounded Workplace).
So how do you do this?
I interviewed our COO, Jenna Hermans (and author of Chaos to Calm), to find out.
“Every person is an emotional being and will approach each situation from their emotional state in that moment,” Hermans says. “Don’t assume where they were yesterday is where they are today. Stay open, curious, and compassionate.”
Perspective is everything
Not only are most interactions we have with others driven by emotions, but our emotions are also always relative.
For a twelve-year old playing soccer, tomorrow’s game is The Big Game, and the emotional stakes are just as high as the World Cup.
For someone sick, it doesn’t matter that their illness probably isn’t going to be life or death. It still may feel that way.
Whether shopping for a car or a muffin, people buy the way it makes them feel at the time. Maybe that muffin is the only thing their child can stomach while having chemo. The importance of that purchase feels even bigger than buying a Nissan at the moment. Perspective is everything.
The power of relationships
Every sales book will tell you that creating a personal relationship is critical to success. The power of relationships cannot be understated.
Going beyond the transaction and genuinely cultivating relationships with generosity has led to Be Courageous’ success. We cultivate and nurture long-term relationships, allowing us to better serve our clients. We are more than a service provider. We are a partner, a guide, and we are deeply, personally connected to results.
6 quick ways to cultivate relationships on your team
- See every teammate and project as a 100 year-relationship.
- Have experiences together, both in and out of the office.
- Be the first to open up in a personal way.
- Presume positive intent before judging your team.
- Acknowledge who your team is, outside of their skillset you need. Remember their birthdays. Know their love languages.
- Call out each team member’s strength. Don’t just say they’re good at something. Say how much you value their unique contribution. You value their mind, not just their skill.
People are people
Every human being is a comprehensive person. You may see only one side of them at any given moment, based on what they’re going through.
When you foster and build relationships on a personal level, you’ll create a sense of not only fitting in, but belonging.
Your team will: work harder, enjoy more, feel seen, go deeper, feel freer to verbalize out-of-the-box ideas, trust you and your company, and increase loyalty, retention, and productivity.
People who feel cared for in a company will always go the extra mile.
We can help get people connected on your team, reach out!