How ‘Pineapple on Pizza’ Can Help Managers Build a Connected Team – Part 1

By Nirosha Methananda, B2B Marketing, Brand and Business Builder

Do you know your team? I mean, really KNOW them?

I know that Millie is a jewelry aficionado. I know that Kate and I share a love of a good espresso martini. I know that Kyler just got married and Melanie will be soon. That Chi is a Sephora expert and that Roman enjoys Muse. These aren’t random people; they’re my people. And knowing them is part of my role as a manager, colleague and peer.

A study by The Workforce Institute at UKG found that managers have the same impact on mental health as a spouse or significant other — meaning, for managers, building a connection with and understanding who your individual team members are; what drives them personally and professionally; and what they need to succeed is no longer a nice-to-have, rather a requirement.

Why? Consider the impact of poor management on the bottom line, as illustrated in the flow chart. To cement this further, a research summary by Zippia reports that companies with “happy” and “engaged” employees receive 2.3% better annual returns and customers who get great service are 10-30% more loyal.

Suddenly, the impact of good management becomes more aligned to business performance.

Approaching management with an advocacy-focused mindset

According to Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of HubSpot: “The more advocates you have, the fewer ads you have to buy.”

Indeed. Advocacy is earned. So why not start building advocacy with the most engaged (and captive) audience you have: your employees!

Consider this example: my most recent role was with an Adtech company that didn’t have a very well-known brand or product in the U.S. market. Their target audience was B2B marketers in senior leadership roles… which I am. Leveraging my personal brand and subject matter expertise helped the company gain credibility with its audience through various content and PR-related activities. In addition to this, leveraging my network, I made introductions that put the sales team in front of prospects who were previously unresponsive. These introductions resulted in $400K (and counting) of closed-won revenue for 2022. As the VP of Marketing, that was part and parcel of my role. Nonetheless, this was just one person connecting the dots. Imagine the impact of 10 or 20 advocates!

Authentic advocacy is (generally) not something that can be mandated. And while there are many different factors that impact an employee’s view of an organization, the fundamentals of driving customer advocacy – establishing value, building trust and forming connections – can be adapted and applied for good management.

Establishing value through acknowledgment and appreciation

Getting paid to work is a given. Caring about your work and putting in effort isn’t. What drives this behavior? A word that is historically stigmatized: feelings.

According to Gartner’s Human Deal Framework, feeling understood, cared for, valued, invested and autonomous is essential in the workplace. Gartner highlights that “82% of employees say it’s important for their organization to see them as a person,’ translating into ‘soul searching for whether one feels valued in their work.”

Generally, we all want to feel valued, and for many – driven through the mortal reality of COVID – seek a sense of purpose through the work we do. A term that stands out here is qualia – meaning that the experience of value and purpose isn’t the same for everyone. Much like the five languages of love, managers need to understand and adapt to individual needs.

For one person, feeling valued may be being told that they did a good job. For another, it may be a manager taking the time to give them in-depth feedback. For others, it may be a gift/incentive or extra time off. Whatever it is, this value comes from the acknowledgment of the individual and appreciation of their efforts.

We all too often run so hard and fast, not stopping to recognize what we have completed. This behavior is highly dependent on the precedent that management sets. Whether it’s public or private acknowledgement and appreciation, making time and space for employee validation will help build self-worth into the fabric of the team culture.

Something that I adopted from Landmark is the ‘Acknowledgement’ exercise. In pairs, each person runs through what they would like to be acknowledged for and why. The other person sincerely and genuinely acknowledges each asks, until there is no more acknowledgment to ask for. Then they switch. While this exercise certainly takes people out of their comfort zone, it also allows them to appreciate and acknowledge their own achievements and form deeper bonds and empathy with and for other team members.

Part two of How ‘pineapple on pizza’ can help managers build a connected team, explores how managers can build a connected team by taking an advocacy approach through building psychological safety and forming connections through the community. It will also address exactly how pineapple on pizza relates to this! Stay tuned.