Being an entrepreneur can feel lonely at times, but a growing dependency on social media and other technology is fueling the risk of what psychologists call social isolation. The effects of are harmful, both to you personally and to your business.
In his latest book, Back to Human, How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation, Dan Schawbel looks at the negative psychological and financial impact attributed to the over-use of technology. Face time as we used to know it is being replaced by FaceTime and other apps. Employees are using messaging apps instead of choosing a more personable means to communicate. "When you replace emotional connections with digital ones, you lose the sensation of being present and the feeling of being alive," Schawbel says. "Every time you choose to send a message instead of picking up your phone or walking a few feet to the office next to yours, you miss an opportunity to engage with your teammates on a deeper level."
Schawbel cites a number of studies that point toward mounting concerns about the effects of social isolation. Depression, loss of productivity, a sense of not belonging, anxiety, apathy, and disengagement in the workplace to name a few. The human connection is vital to individuals, teams, and entrepreneurs. It's also vital to the success of your business.
Create a culture of connection.
While the importance of technology is hardly debatable, employers can still create a culture that embraces the value of connection. "When your teammates feel connected, respected, and loved, they'll be more likely to stay with your company, create positive energy, and attract new teammates," says Schawbel. This all begins with hiring the right people.
Hiring the wrong person will cause setbacks.
Most entrepreneurs have suffered the consequences of a bad hire. Aside from the staggering costs associated with a high turnover, losing an employee can set your projects back leaving important deadlines missed. You and your employees are likely to see a loss of productivity. Decreased morale, decreased customer satisfaction, and perhaps even damage to your company's reputation may all be a part of the picture.
Hire for personality, not skill.
To create an environment of connection in this Age of Isolation business owners and managers are tasked with hiring people who are a good culture fit. In chapter seven of his book, Schawbel outlines five interview questions to help you measure the most significant personal qualities found in a good employee. The right match will possess values and beliefs that are aligned with your own.
Confidence. What was an obstacle you overcame in a previous job?
Note the candidate's ability to push through failure and work-related challenges. A confident employee will always find their way through, whereas someone who lacks confidence wouldn't have the tenacity to solve the problem.
Attitude. When have you admitted to your teammate(s) that you made a mistake, and how did you manage it?
Someone with a positive attitude will usually tell you that they apologized to the team and will explain how they'd handle things better the next time. Someone with a negative attitude will use a tone of voice or body language that conveys the message that it was someone else's fault.
Professionalism. Give me an example of a situation in which you had a conflict with a team member, and how you handled yourself.
Their answer will give you a sense of how candidates handle their emotions during a tough situation. You want employees who can carry themselves professionally and work to resolve the conflict in a positive way.
Likability. Who has been a great mentor to you, and how was that manifested?
Likable candidates typically attract better mentors and talk about them in a positive way. Someone who claims not to have any mentors may be arrogant or hasn't invested the time to seek them out.
Curiosity. Do you have any questions about the position or the company?
This will give you a glimpse into how prepared they are. Candidates should ask about the company's vision, your background, the product roadmap, the company culture, and what their daily schedule might look like. People who don't ask questions aren't likely to push the boundaries or challenge the status quo, which is what leads to innovation.
Once you've hired your new star employee, remember the importance of a solid onboarding process. "The more you invest in their careers in the first few weeks, the bigger the long-term payoff will be," says Schawbel. "It can increase retention by 25 percent and improve performance by more than 10 percent." Well worth the effort.