Three lessons learned from a college homecoming weekend

I recently spent Homecoming Weekend at my son’s university. Many alumni attended. Over and over, I heard recent graduates tell their friends, “Don’t ever graduate! The real world sucks!” It got me thinking…what is so great about college (besides the obvious) that we can apply to the workplace?

Engaging: College has a lot of fun activities that increase group engagement. Worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged at work according to a recent Gallup poll. Why should you care? Because engaged employees generate 2.5 times the revenue than those who are not engaged. As a manager, you are responsible for an engagement strategy to get your team involved and performing. Engagement also increases retention, which in turn benefits the bottom line.

Bonding: As undergraduates, we find our group of friends, and they become friends for life. Of course, living, eating, socializing – and studying – in close quarters enables bonding. Developing and maintaining close bonds in the workplace is an important element of managing effectively. Why? Research has shown that productivity and effectiveness increase when co-workers bond through team building, socializing, sharing lessons learned, and receiving and giving constructive feedback.

Parading: We attended a marvelous homecoming parade, with floats, marching bands, candy tossers, cheerleaders, horses, and nice sports cars. Half time included all the pageantry of the homecoming court and the crowning of the king and queen. The entire stadium was one in shared happiness, pride, and sense of belonging. In the workplace, we often forget to celebrate and parade our team’s accomplishments. Effective managers need to build in time to both revel in and display successes and wins.

My takeaway from the weekend is simple. If as managers, we can engage our employees, bond with our team, and parade our accomplishments, then perhaps our staff will return to visit their alma mater and shout, “The real world is a wonderful place!”

By Lisa Pafe, Lohfeld Consulting Group Principal Consultant

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