This is the third installment in my four-part series on strategies to help build a stronger, more sustainable culture in your organization. Check out the first installment or the second installment if you missed it.
3. Meet Their Needs for Belonging and Significance.
People have an innate need for connection, belonging, and to be made to feel special. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us.
That need is not just psychological; it’s biological. Scientists have discovered that the part of the brain that is triggered by hunger and thirst, our most basic survival needs, is the exact same part of the brain triggered by feelings of loneliness, isolation, and disconnection. To the primitive part of our brains, the feeling of not belonging is literally associated with the feeling of death.
I had the privilege recently to speak at the 2015 Retail Merchandising & Marketing Conference and met amazing leaders from around the world – all of them from the retail industry. I was speaking on the topic, “Team Building Meets Customer Service.” The bottom line being that any organization’s level of service and ultimately their success, is directly tied to the culture of the company.
Culture is defined as the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize an institution or organization. It picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. In fact, culture guides discretionary behavior, and tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room – which is most of the time.
And just to give you some context as to why culture matters, studies have shown that the way people feel about their work environment and the culture of an organization can account for nearly 30% of business performance.
“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” – Brene Brown
When there is a feeling of connection and belonging in your organization, it deepens the feelings of trust throughout. You can’t tell someone to trust you, but you can act in a way that allows them to decide to trust you.
We also need to know that we matter; we’re significant, special and worthy of attention. That’s not just some of us; it’s all of us. The benefits of recognition are well documented.
Most of us are aware of the surveys on employee engagement that show more than 2/3 of the workforce is either disengaged or actively disengaged. When asked why, more than 70% of respondents said they didn’t feel appreciated or as though their contributions mattered. And yet, studies show the simple act of acknowledging someone for their contributions has a longer lasting effect than a pay raise. And it doesn’t cost anything!
And status is a major driver of social behavior, and something that most people will go to great lengths to protect. A sense of increasing status can be more rewarding than money, and a sense of decreasing status can feel as though your life is in danger. It is a primary reward or threat, which is why it’s such a powerful tool for all of us to learn.
To help you remember the best way to share significance, grab this immediate download and post this flyer in your office.
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Kevin Ciccotti, Human Factor Formula
Helping companies create sustainable, effective teams that are committed to the success of their projects, the organization, and the individuals with whom they work