Why is belonging important to an employee?


Ten minutes and a conversation about the following will not only set them up for success, but more importantly help them make sense about what it is you see in them that will benefit the team and the organisation, writes Mark LeBusque

The most powerful narcotic in the world is the promise of belonging – Kalle Lasn

Remember the last time you had a new starter?

They were a little nervous and excited at the same time when you met them on day one in the foyer. You were so pleased to have them join the team, as they had interviewed incredibly well and ticked every box you needed to walk in on day one and excel in the role. Bringing such an experienced human with a great track record in delivering exactly what you needed had you eager to get them up and running as soon as possible.

This is where most managers make a big mistake, and miss the opportunity to do something that all humans crave when starting a new job, but the majority don’t get to experience. Getting clear about their relevance and contribution, and immediately feeling a strong sense of belonging to the team, department, and organisation.

What are managers missing?
So, what do managers miss when they are eager to mobilise a new starter as soon as possible?

In my first book ‘Being Human’, I describe the missed opportunity of creating a real sense of belonging at this critical point in time.

Managers are eager to get the first win on the board for a new starter to build their confidence, and are overly focussed on looking over that PD one more time so they are clear about the role, handing over the laptop, car keys and pairing them up with a work buddy to learn the company way.

I believe that a great opportunity is missed here, and all it takes is a ten-minute investment in time and a conversation that ensures a member of your team feels a true sense of belonging from day one.

It’s all about two words; relevance and contribution.

‘Be crystal clear about every team member’s relevance and contribution’

You might be asking, what does this have to do with setting up a team member for success?

The importance of belonging
Human beings are sense-makers and are curious to understand how as an individual team member they contribute to the team, department, and overall organisation delivering on the strategy and business success. They crave a sense of belonging to a cause or something bigger than they are.

Human beings have a strong desire to belong; to be able to display their worth to others, usually through the demonstration of their ability to make things happen that will result in a successful outcome.

Tom Hayes sums this up beautifully when he said, “we have a fundamental imperative in our lives to matter to others, to serve others, and to support each other in mattering more.”

Ten minutes and a conversation about the following will not only set them up for success, but more importantly help them make sense about what it is you see in them that will benefit the team and the organisation.

Why they are relevant? How they will contribute?

This is not only about their technical skills; it includes their human skills.

Managers must talk about both in order to start building that feeling of belonging.

Still cynical – here’s how it works
Here’s an actual example of how to articulate the relevance and contribution of the human skills.

Trevor joined his team and one thing that was clear from the interview was that he has a unique ability to speak his truth and say what needed to be said. A well-intentioned ‘professional agitator’ if you like.

The conversation went a little like this:

“Trevor you are relevant because you bring something to our team that we have been missing. An ability to challenge and agitate when we are all in ‘group think’. This contribution excites me because we have lacked a voice that will challenge us all to see things a different way.”    

Immediately Trevor felt a sense of being valued not just for his technical skills (he was an amazing solution builder and negotiator), but also for what he contributed through his human and behavioural skills. It gave him permission to bring his uniqueness to the table in order to help the team be successful.

Gallup research identified that 93% of employees who feel valued and clearly understand how they are relevant say they are motivated to do their best by their employer. That’s reason enough to invest ten minutes to articulate why you value a team member.

The first step towards this is to create both self and team awareness of the relevance of being relevant.

It’s what we are hardwired to do.

It’s what being a Human Manager is all about.

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