What does connection mean… to a People Manager?

With the official launch of Mystery Insights taking off, we asked some of our very own Mystery leaders for their perspective on connection: What does it mean and how does it feel to them? What value does a tool like Insights provide to someone in their position? Here’s what our Head of Operations, Sierra Bott, had to say:

What does connection mean to you?

Connection to me is a combination of a few things: feeling like you know someone personally (not just professionally). Like knowing your partner’s name, that this last weekend you went camping, and that your favorite sack is popcorn. It also means we can have open communication in that I feel comfortable sharing my opinion with you, even if the feedback might not be what you’re hoping to hear—this shows we have trust and respect for one another.

Lastly, it means we can laugh together—if you’re connected to someone that means you can be yourself and do things like share your sense of humor (send me TikTok links!).

When do you feel most connected?

When it comes to being virtual, then it’s when I’m 1-on-1 with someone. In real-life settings, it’s even better—especially when we’re normally virtual (what a treat!).

How do you help companies understand connection?

Connection can be made through time spent together and shared experiences—this is what Mystery excels at. We provide a platform to connect folks, give them a chance to bond, and design experiences to maximize connection opportunities for individuals. Or to put it more simply, we host fun experiences, and by participating in these fun experiences, you make new acquaintances who you later become friends with. This allows you to build a stronger and wider internal network within your organization. Any environment where you feel connected ultimately makes you feel more supported and integrated. Any employer would want this for their employees, and all employees hope to feel this way in their company.

How has working remotely impacted your sense of belonging?

Working remotely was definitely an unexpected transition. When working in the office, I often found our open floor plan to be distracting (hearing other calls going on, people moving around, music playing). This wasn’t the most compatible with my own workstyle, but I found ways to make it work. Since going remote, the biggest benefit to me was having control over my environment so that I could maximize my output (no more distractions!). The open office layout did have one huge benefit, however—I was often interacting with my colleagues. From team lunch trips to impromptu coffee runs, or even going for a walk to clear our heads, I was constantly able to interact with my colleagues and get to know them better and, ultimately, connect with them. Losing this when moving to WFH was the biggest regret that I had in the transition. Working at home and virtually, interactions become inherently transactional: I set a meeting with you because I need something, and since we have a set time limit, chit chat is often glossed over. There’s no walking to and from the conference room together to chat about upcoming travel plans, etc. The organic connection isn’t readily available while working remotely. At Mystery, we already prioritize connecting with each other—it’s in our very DNA, after all. But we’re taking this a step further with our Mystery @ Mystery program, which seeks to help rectify the loss of organic connection. I’m looking forward to participating in these events and having non-transactional time with colleagues I don’t often interact with. We also host offsites to provide further connection opportunities. With these in place, I don't feel a lack of connection with my team at all.

What’s your favorite way Mystery helps companies increase/improve connections?

Through our high quality, fun events that are designed with building connections specifically in mind. We also match teams with the event that will be most effective at this, and something their group will enjoy. Once a team starts completing events, they will even get to see how their connections are strengthening within Insights. All in all, this end-to-end service with measurable results is what makes Mystery stand apart and what makes me proud to be a part of the team!

For someone who manages one of Mystery’s biggest teams, getting to know someone on a casual but personal level is what speaks to Sierra. It paves the way for honesty, trust, respect, and most importantly, a genuine friendship.