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  • Writer's pictureAvy-Loren Cohen

The Power of Social Connections in Creating High-Performing Teams



Every leader aspires to build a high-performing team, and while many strategies are considered, the significance of social connections often goes overlooked. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that fostering strong social connections can significantly enhance team performance. In this article, we will delve into ten research-backed approaches to promote greater connectedness among team members, with real-life examples illustrating their effectiveness.

  1. Bond over non-work topics: Taking the time to engage in discussions about non-work-related subjects can create genuine connections among team members. For instance, a marketing team begins their weekly meetings with a “Fun Fact Friday” where each member shares an interesting personal fact. These conversations reveal shared interests, creating closer friendships and fostering better teamwork.

  2. Cultivate a culture of appreciation: Establishing a culture of gratitude and appreciation can work wonders for team morale. Imagine a software development team that holds a “Kudos Board” where anyone can publicly acknowledge and thank their colleagues for their valuable contributions. Recognition from both leaders and peers strengthens social bonds within the team.

  3. Value authenticity: Encouraging team members to be authentic and express their true emotions can build trust and strengthen relationships. For instance, a sales team leader occasionally starts meetings by sharing a personal challenge, setting an example for the team to be open and supportive. Authenticity leads to better psychological safety, which allows for more honest and constructive interactions.

  4. Foster opportunities for collaboration: Promoting collaboration beyond specific tasks or roles allows team members to interact and form meaningful relationships. An engineering team organizes “Innovation Workshops” where members from different departments collaborate on creative projects, enabling them to learn from each other and build lasting connections.

  5. Encourage open communication: Creating an environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions openly is crucial. An HR team holds regular “Idea Exchange” sessions where employees share their suggestions and feedback. Open communication fosters understanding, and empathy, and strengthens social connections.

  6. Provide opportunities for professional development: Supporting team members’ growth through training, workshops, and mentoring programs brings them together. A healthcare team participates in cross-training sessions, allowing nurses, doctors, and administrative staff to learn from one another, share experiences, and develop stronger professional relationships.

  7. Foster a sense of belonging: An inclusive environment where every team member feels valued and respected is essential for building strong social connections. An educational organization celebrates diverse cultures and encourages staff members to share their traditions during company-wide events, fostering a sense of belonging and unity.

  8. Encourage social activities outside of work: Organizing team-building activities or social events outside of the workplace provides an opportunity for team members to bond on a personal level. A finance team arranges a weekend hiking trip where employees can relax, share stories, and build camaraderie, leading to stronger social connections at work.

  9. Promote a healthy work-life balance: Encouraging team members to prioritize their well-being helps foster social connections. A tech startup encourages flexible work hours and offers fitness benefits, empowering employees to pursue their passions outside of work. As a result, team members connect over shared hobbies and interests, promoting a more cohesive team.

  10. Lead by example: Leaders who actively prioritize social connections set the tone for the entire team. A project manager spends time having one-on-one coffee sessions with team members, getting to know them on a personal level, and showing genuine care. This behavior encourages others to invest in building relationships, resulting in a tightly-knit and high-performing team.


Conclusion:

The power of social connections in creating high-performing teams cannot be overstated. By incorporating these ten research-backed strategies — bonding over non-work topics, cultivating appreciation, valuing authenticity, fostering collaboration, encouraging open communication, providing professional development, creating a sense of belonging, organizing social activities, promoting work-life balance, and leading by example — leaders can create a supportive and connected environment that enhances team performance and drives success. These real-life examples demonstrate that prioritizing social connections leads to happier, more engaged, and ultimately more productive teams.


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