We love watching (or reading) TED talks. They’re always so inspirational and informative. The only “bad” thing about them is that, before you know it, you’ve watched six or seven and where did that last hour go?? If only watching TED talks were the secret to motivating employees, we’d be set, right?

In her TED talk, “Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work,” Margaret Heffernan talks about more than just how super chickens and cutthroat competition are killing businesses. She also talks about the secret to motivating your employees.

Successful companies motivate their employees with social capital

Social capital is what makes teamwork possible. It’s an interdependence and reliance that builds or expands trust. In other words, teams that have been together for a long time work better because they know each other better. Team members who spend time together know how to work together. They know how to be open and candid with each other, without letting conflict dampen their work. In fact, they’re able to use conflict and discussion to improve their products and productivity.

How do you create social capital?

Building social capital isn’t something that can be done overnight. It takes time, natural interactions, and team building. That’s right: all of those quick team building activities that involve sharing about your personal life actually affect your team’s work performance.

Margaret Heffernan shared several examples of companies that used coffee breaks to build social media. One company purposely scheduled coffee breaks so that employees would have time to talk to each other. Profits soared by a “mere” 15 million dollars that year and employees reported a 10% increase in their job satisfaction. Considering that probably only took a few minutes each week, that’s a great return on the investment of simply restructuring coffee breaks!

Making the change

As we all make the change towards creating more social capital, it’s going to take time and effort to remember that it’s not about the superstars. Yes, it’s amazing when your team is able to sign a Jordan or a Manning or a Bryant or whoever. But as amazing as they are, they can’t win a championship alone. It’s no different in business.

Instead of focusing on grabbing up the best player, it’s time to focus on building the best, most unified team ever. And the only real way to do that is with social capital. It’s by spending time together. We have to get to know how each other thinks, works, and how to bounce ideas off of each other to become the best team we can be.

Ready for more ideas on how to build your team into an unstoppable, unified force? We’d love to chat about how to help your team. In fact, we’re ready any time. Just drop us a line.

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