Recently, I was asked a question that I hear pretty often.
Usually the questioner is young, perhaps newly-graduated from school. They’re almost always new to their current job. And I can often hear their frustration when they ask:
“Please tell me, how can someone just entering the workforce create change?”
Maybe you’re familiar with this question. Do you see a need for change in your organization? Are you frustrated because you can’t get anyone else to see it – much less do something about it? Maybe you’ve just graduated from university and gotten your first job. Or perhaps you’re a veteran worker, but newly-hired. Either way, it seems like a cruel joke…
As a new member of the team, you see things with fresh eyes; you see problems that others might have just gotten used to. And if you’re young, you’re probably willing to take on any challenge.
You’ve also just joined an established group. No one knows you, so you have no credibility, no trust, no goodwill. You may have wonderful ideas, but how do you impress them on others?
What can you do to be heard?
You need to CONNECT.
Based on the definition I used when I wrote Everyone Communicates, Few Connect,
“Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.”
Think about it: Where does change begin in an organization? With the people! So your ability to communicate and connect with others is a major determining factor in increasing your influence. And increasing your influence with them is your way of making change happen.
Here are some steps to take to begin connecting:
1. Keep in mind that connecting requires energy. You must be intentional – not casual – in your interactions. Devote the time and energy necessary, but DON’T steal it from the work you were hired for. The energy you put toward connection needs to be above and beyond what you’re already doing for your job.
2. Focus on others. True connection is all about others. If you’re still working on making your agenda happen (i.e. creating change), that’s not connection; it’s manipulation.
3. Work on finding common ground. When two people come together to communicate, each has a reason for doing so. To connect on common ground, you must know your reason and the other person’s reason, then find a way to connect the two.
All of this may sound complicated and roundabout when all you want to do is get your goals accomplished. But you need to remember: Making a difference in your work is not about productivity; it’s about people. When you focus on others and connect with them, you can work together to accomplish great things.