What happens when we lose connectivity?

This question is easy to answer when connectivity is disrupted at home.

Take the loss of Wi-Fi for example.   When this occurs, we may experience a roar across our house as every device stops.  With it, there may be accompanying anger, wailing, and most certainly complaining.

Or maybe this only happens at our place of employment?

During an outage, certainly we see the lines to the support center lit up as the phone reps field countless calls from concerned employees.  Later there will be conference calls where there will be discussion about what occurred and how to prevent it in the future.

How do teams handle connectivity loss?   

While we may not hear the wailing and work may not stop completely, we do become less effective as productivity diminishes.

The best leaders proactively address signs of connectivity problems before any intermittent loss becomes permanent.

What are situations that can reduce connectivity?

Network problems

Networks can break. However, future connectivity problems will have signs of failure.  We need to pay close attention.  When we experience an intermittent outage, it is our responsiblity to take action to prevent permanent loss.

Performing routine maintenance to keep the system current and working well is the responsibility of each team member.

As leader, we need to actively engage with our people.  We know them, we know where they are,  and they should feel we are accessible.   Our people should realize we have their best interests in mind and are looking for ways to help position them for success.

Changing Behaviors 

The strength of the network is proportional to the commitment of each member to act in accordance to shared values.

When individuals reduce their commitment, connection weakens. If commitment weakens too much, connection may be lost completely as they move out of range. The network just can’t support those who drift too far.


Trouble can come when people or organizations penetrate and break established communication paths. This comes in many forms.

New organization structure: When formal communication structures change, it impacts the informal network and can even break it.  Teams will need to work quickly to maintain connectivity, re-route paths dynamically, and build new ones to maintain cohesion.

Unclear objectives: When people are confused with their roles, responsibilities, or the mission it blocks them from success and creates extra load.  If this lasts too long, people will get tired and give up.

Overly tight controls: if the formal structure restricts communication paths severely, thwarting the ability of people to respond to the changing environment, productivity declines.  When things don’t go well for too long, it makes the future outlook appear dim.  As hope fades, our best people will find a brighter tomorrow elsewhere.

Action items

  • What can I do today that will help strengthen connections across my team?
  • How can our team become more effective in our communications?
  • What can our team do to become more adaptable to organizational change?

Shepherding: The art of becoming the leader others want to follow

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