Connect with Your Team

More Ways to Connect with Your Team and Appreciate Them

Connection is more important than ever.  We watched TeamStrength member companies dive into connecting and rallying their teams in the beginning of this crisis.  Now, the ongoing challenges are beginning to show some wear on these practices.

Start by connecting employees with each other:

1. Help them reimagine their commute time. Whether their drive to work has changed or not, help them reimagine this time.  Schedule “coffee” between different team members each morning and catch up over the phone or video chat. Get your team to sign up for coffee talks with each other and create a solid rotation throughout the whole office. They’ll gain social time, mentorship, different perspectives, and regain some of the spontaneous conversations that are lost in remote working.
2. Help them manage their time better. Pair up coworkers to utilize time management techniques together.  For instance, if they’re using the Pomodoro Technique, they would set a timer for each interval of 25 minutes and “ready, set, go!” together. This can help gamify their workday slightly, and also ensure that they can take a guilt-free 5-minute break with a buddy, again creating more space for spontaneous conversation.
3. Set up visibility buddies throughout the office. Sometimes there can be a lack of visibility around milestones and accomplishments. To combat this, deliberately pair up team members to be visibility buddies who shout out each others’ accomplishments through team message boards like Slack. Remember, it’s always easier to brag about someone else than about yourself.

And here are some reminders to keep in mind when it comes to connecting with your team yourself:

1. Make deposits into team member’s Emotional Bank Accounts. Regularly invest in relationship building with people you work with. Steven Covey calls it deposits in their emotional bank accounts. Not only does this connect the employee to the company, it makes tough conversations that may need to come down the road easier.
2. Watch your time – managers & employers should spend 6 hours a week with employees. We shared this idea a few years ago, backed in a survey from Leadership IQ.  This not only inspires and engages employees at higher levels, but it is also a great way to create face-to-face time for fully or partially remote companies.  It can lead to a more balanced work-load for managers because with this structure they can only manage 6-7 people.  Start small by focusing on one really good, meaningful conversation a week with team members.  These interactions can create bottom-up communication, with employees coming to managers when they have questions, ideas or want feedback.
3. Talk about the Stockdale Paradox with employees, and help them get there. The Stockdale paradox is the unwavering faith that you will prevail in the end combined with facing the brutal facts of your current reality. There are a lot things can cannot control about our current environment, so remind employees to balance these two ideals by sharing the vision of the future and letting them share where they are now.
4. Remember to coach, and spend 80% the time with employees listening. Set up 5-15s, skip-step meetings and other one-on-one conversations with your team members.  Start meetings with ice-breaker questions to learn more about them personally and professionally.
5. Revisit employee engagement surveys, like the Gallup Q12. An employee survey that measures employee engagement, the Q12 consists of 12 actionable workplace elements that offer proven links to performance outcomes. Gallup spent years conducting thousands of interviews across industries in multiple countries. It has been administered to more than 25 million employees in 195 countries in 70 languages.

Communicate your appreciation for your team right now, using their Language of Appreciation.

Words of Affirmation

Hand-written note: It’s old school, but effective. Write a note sharing your appreciation for them. It can be in a simple card, or on the first page of a journal you give them.
Plaques: Get as creative with as you want. People love showing off their achievements.
Thank you video: This can be one of the most thoughtful rewards you can give someone. Check out Tribune – they make the process of recording and organizing videos simple.
Wall of fame: Make a wall of fame and reward your employees with a spot for their picture.
Employee of the Month: The employee of the month. Another old school idea that’s still super effective. You can even feature them on your website for some extra incentive.

Quality Time

Sporting event tickets (if you go with them!): Who doesn’t like a good game? Bonus points if their team is from out of town, and you get them tickets when they play the local team.
Company offsite: A company-wide offsite is a great way to reward hitting team goals. It can be anything from a local event to an extravagant weekend. An offsite is a great reward that also promotes team building and help strengthen your company culture.
Monday Night Football: Hold a Monday Night Football viewing party for the team/company. Order a few pizzas, get some beverages, and celebrate their hard work.
Team happy hour: Let the team go out for a drink & appetizers and have the company pick up the bill. This also allows your employees to get to know each other outside of the office.
1-1 mentoring: One of the most valuable things for an employee who is looking to learn from people with experience. Reward them with a few mentoring sessions with one of the executives.

Acts of Service

Donate to a charity of their choice: If your employee is passionate about helping people, reward them by helping a cause that’s important to them.
Paid Paid Vacation: HR Software company BambooHR offers employee’s a certain amount of money to put towards vacation once a year. Paid PTO allows for many benefits including better engagement and loyalty, improved work-life balance, and an advantage in recruiting.
Cooking lessons: Most people try to cook, and a lot fail. Incentivize your employee or team with cooking lessons one day after work. They’ll learn a lot and get to eat some great food.
Casual dress day: If there is “dress code” at your office, incentivize the company with a day/week when people can dress casually.
Birthday PTO: BambooHR gives their employees birthday PTO with zero obligations. They find that giving employees this time helps them relax a bit and come back more focused and engaged.


Dinner on the boss: Take your employees out for dinner on the house. Everybody loves food, and getting a meal on the boss is much more rewarding than cooking one yourself.
Their favorite liquor: Depends on the person, but if they have a favorite brand of whiskey, beer or wine, reward them with a bottle of the good stuff.
Surprise birthday gifts for employees: Recruitment software company, RecruiterBox, rewards their staff by surprising them on their birthday, with a gift sent to their home address.
Spa day: Give the reward of relaxation. They need it after all their hard work.
Prize wheel: You hit a goal, and you spin the wheel. What’s on the wheel? Anything you want. You’re reading a list of ideas right now.