Have you ever had that first day at work where you felt like an outsider? Everybody looks at you as new, different, not belonging to the group? Have you been the manager that needs to integrate a new person? Do you have team members that do not want to belong to the group? The sense of belonging is vital to ensure a team´s success.
To be able to create results in a team or a company and to make everybody go in the same direction, you have to create a sense of belonging.
Belonging is a human need
From the very first beginning of our life, all human beings learn the importance of belonging in order to survive. The group that we belong to from the start – most often a family – is defined with clear boundaries.
As a manger, you have to create a clear framework for you group in order for it´s members to get the sense of belonging. You have to set the purpose of the group as well as being clear about who the group members are.
In the hierarchy of needs, Maslow defined belonging as one of the basic human needs. These needs have to be satisfied in order for the human being to be able to perform to it´s full extent. In business, there is a lot of focus on structure and projects. In order for teams to succeed, a feeling of belonging is key to be able to succeed.
Better performing teams
An identity is created when all the members of a team has a sense of belonging. The sense of belonging is important in order to create safe boundaries for the individuals and for the group to develop further. This creates maturity in the group and becomes the basis for performing and adapting to new challenges.
A sense of belonging makes the group members taking care of each other in order to protect the group. When team members demonstrate mutual trust, they will naturally share their knowledge in order to enhance the group results. Members that have a sense of belonging trust each other. This makes the team trying out new directions without being afraid of failing.
Creating the belonging
As a manager you create the belonging through a clearly defined leadership by communicating your vision and set clear objectives. Walking the talk and training all the members of your team in the values and the framework of the company are important factors to create a group feeling.
Creating a common understanding and a common language together with social events in the workplace are important arenas to build a community feeling. Continuous communication is key to achieve a successful sense of belonging.
A sense of justice and a fair balance between giving and taking needs to be in place to create a healthy framework for the group to continue to grow in one direction. As a manager you should also clearly communicate acceptable behaviours and follow up with the individuals whenever the alignment is unclear.
Changing the form of belonging
As human beings, we chose to participate to groups. An employee that works for a company has actively chosen to belong to a group.
Belonging to a group in an active way might end at some stages. Several reasons can start this movement. Some people might choose to opt out of the group. It might be that they do not personally agree to the boundaries set by the group. The group might also split up at the end of a project or a company might close down and the belonging is no longer in the same form.
When an active belonging ends, the belonging is transformed into a new form. Whenever a person was in the group at some stage, there will always remain an invisible link and belonging to the group.
Hence, throughout the life of a group, either it is at the start, when the group is active or when it splits up, you have to set a clear direction and develop a good form of belonging.
Teams and companies with a strong identity strengthen its presence and enhance the group´s visibility in the market.
Good luck with creating a sense of belonging and moving towards success!