Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could create the “perfect” work team? This Dream Team would comprise people that compliment one another’s talents, and are able to seamlessly deliver value to your organization. What the heck, let’s also say that they’re fun to work with too. (After all, this is a Dream Team we’re talking about, so go on, dream a little.)
There’s a reason the phrase, “In your dreams” carries the weight it does. Few of us are lucky enough to fully create the perfect team from the ground up. While you might not be able to create your own Dream Team, you still have access to a very important “team” of sorts, and one over which you have far more control: your informal network. The connections that you make at work are part of a vast, interconnected web that comprises your overall work experience.
It’s likely that on most days, you give scant thought to the “connections” you’re making, but if you were to stop and reflect, you’d probably realize how important your colleagues throughout the organization are to your success. Your network may or may not include members of your formally identified work group, but the people in your most prized inner circle—your Dream Team—all share one important characteristic: you trust them. And they trust you.
How did that trust to be? For starters, it probably came about because you helped each other in some way: pitching in to meet a deadline, or picking up an extra workload. And it was built over time, based on a track record of mutual appreciation. In fact, it’s the element of expressing thanks that science has identified as a key factor in trust-building, which is an essential component to creating a strong Dream Team.
In the Harvard Business Review article, “The Neuroscience of Trust,” neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak explores eight specific behaviors that foster trust in the workplace. Among them is what Zak calls, “Recognizing Excellence,” in which leaders and peers alike recognize efforts made by their colleagues. Zak, who along with his research team has studied the chemical reactions in people’s brains that lead to increased trust, writes, “neuroscience shows that recognition has the largest effect on trust when it occurs immediately after a goal has been met, and when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal and public.” Zak goes on to explain that the power of public recognition is that it provides a template for others that demonstrates how to celebrate success —and inspire others to aim for excellence.
Which brings us back to that Dream Team of yours, which at the moment resides only as an aspirational thought in your head. What if you could actually see a chart that maps those colleagues—people who have gone the extra mile for you—and delivered results for you, your team and your company? Can you imagine how cool it would be to see how your connections have evolved, organically, as you take on projects and help others outside your immediate work team?
One company has found a way to map your informal connections via technology. Globoforce is a technology company that has put the “power of recognition” at the core of their offerings. Globoforce’s social recognition platform is tailored to each company’s individual needs and is integrated into clients’ existing rewards and recognition infrastructure, giving all employees—not just leaders—the opportunity to provide recognition in a real-time, online platform. It’s similar to a company-specific social feed that encourages employees to recognize one another frequently and easily. And, as Zak’s research asserts, Globoforce has indeed discovered the power of making recognition a daily and public activity.
When creating their software, Globoforce recognized that a person’s network is continually changing. Think about it: when you start out at a company, your primary source of connections is your work team. But as you participate in varied projects across your organization, your network evolves organically. Over time, your informal, internal network emerges. Globoforce calls these networks “work circles.” It’s such an important concept that Globoforce creates ways for employees who use their software to see their various work circles—and the ways in which they’ve recognized others for their work.
“Today, work is done in teams,” said Globoforce CEO Eric Mosley. “To get any project done, we need to collaborate with cross-functional teams. Thus, our network keeps expanding and we are continuously forming new work communities. Because of this, it’s important that we provide a platform in which employees have the opportunity to connect and build meaningful relationships at work. Our goal through our social recognition solutions is to support the growth and development of talent to not only fuel individual performance, but also to foster team collaboration.”
Your vision of a perfect team may never appear on an organizational chart. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own vibrant, dynamic network to help you achieve success for yourself and your organization. Who’s on your Dream Team—and have you thanked them lately?