In his book, The Land of Strangers, Robert Hall writes, "The truth is, relationships are the most valuable and value-creating resource of any society. They are our lifelines to survive, grow and thrive." As company leaders, bosses and mentors, what are you doing to help your team members and coworkers build their network of professional relationships? What encouragement are you providing? What opportunities are available and does your team know about them? What are you doing to help yourself?
The inability, unwillingness or lack of awareness of individuals to build their professional network is not confined to our industry. It's a societal problem, writes David Brooks in a New York Times editorial. Brooks notes that in the 1980's, 20 percent of Americans said they were often lonely. Now it's 40 percent. Depression rates have increased 10-fold since 1960, yet we are more connected than in any other time in history. Or are we truly connected?
Jean Twenge questioned whether or not smartphones had destroyed an entire generation, in a 2017 Atlantic article. Twenge found that today's teenagers are reluctant to date, less likely to leave home without their parents and more likely to put off the activities of adulthood. "They are spending more time alone with their digital screens, and the greater the screen time, the greater the unhappiness."
How many of your team members are tethered to screens, reluctant to leave the friendly confines of their cubicle?
There was a lot of talk recently about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's trip to Washington in mid-April. The politicians focused on privacy issues and anti-competitive practices. What was not questioned is the societal impact of social media. There was no discussion that Facebook and its social media contemporaries are contributing to an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation, noted Brooks. The issue is that heavy Internet users are much less likely to interact with their proximate neighbors and that is having a major adverse effect on the social structure of neighborhoods.
British anthropologist Robin Dunbar claims that human societies exist on three levels: the clan (family and close friends), the village (the community) and the tribe (your larger group). Brooks notes that cross-class associations of town and neighborhood have fallen apart. This is where organizations such as DPHA make such a positive difference. BKBG serves as all three roles, as the clan, the village and the tribe for the independent kitchen and bath showrooms.
Relationships do matter. We know that you can't build a professional network behind a screen or within the confines of a showroom. That's why going to the BKBG Annual Conference is a necessity and that's why encouraging your staff to participate at NKBA chapter meetings, and other industry events is good for your business. Let BKBG be your clan, village and tribe.