Spend time studying the most successful companies with the strongest cultures and you will find they have clearly-defined values and they navigate their way with a strong sense of purpose and cause. Employees who work at these companies can clearly articulate their values and they believe they can be themselves at work because they truly belong.
How important is it for employees to feel like they belong? Critical! From the beginning of time, science has shown that human beings are tribalistic in nature. We naturally band together as a group for a sense of safety and belonging and in many ways, the company is the modern-day tribe.
Think about any group of people you feel connected to… people from your country, your state, or your city. People from your college, your neighborhood, or your work. What bands your group together and makes you feel as though you belong?
In many cases, it’s a shared custom or tradition like when a religious group celebrates a sacred holiday or when a student body sings their school fight song. These shared rituals create a sense of security, making people feel like they are part of something bigger than just themselves. It helps people in the group define who they are and what they believe in and value, and when they know that, they are able to make better decisions that keep them on track.
Other things that bring a group together are common beliefs, mutual interests, a common language, and shared experiences. Companies that recognize the importance of tribalism create a sense of belonging among their people that becomes the glue that holds them together—and those companies have a distinct advantage in the marketplace.
Does your company have an opportunity to do more here? Could you create a stronger sense of purpose and belonging?
Consider doing one of the following:
- Do you have core values that your people know, believe in, and share? If not, consider identifying a few that clearly define how you do business there. Our company’s core values are Quality, Responsiveness, and Integrity. Not only do we know that, but we live it every day. We recognize those that exhibit those qualities and use those words, thanking people for their responsiveness or celebrating work that is high quality.
- Is there a tangible item you can give everyone to wear or display that symbolizes the fact they are on a team? Like a team that wears the same uniform, when people all have the same “gear,” they feel a part of something. Personalized coffee cups or tumblers, t-shirts, or meaningful pins can give that team feeling.
- Create a shared experience that will have a positive impact and create group memories. That could be a team-building activity, a picnic that includes families, an annual evening of recognition, or an inspirational speaker.
- Is there an easy-to-read, but powerful book, like the Energy Bus by Jon Gordon, that everyone can read and discuss? Reading a common book provides a group with a common language, sets the tone, and allows for lots of extension exercises like establishing a weekly "Energy Bus" award.
- Seek a way to honor the common interests of your people and increase their sense of purpose by donating time and money, together, to make a difference in the community.
These are just a few ways you can continue to strengthen the binds that hold your team together. Identify one that will take your group from team to tribe, commit to focusing time and attention on it, and Up Your Culture!