A Sense of Belonging

Can you remember a time when you felt like you really belonged?

For me, it was the day I became a submariner.

During the pinning ceremony, the gold dolphin insignia was placed on my uniform signifying I was a qualified submarine officer. That insignia told the world I belonged to an exceptional group of people qualified in underwater warfare.

It was one of my proudest moments, and it’s an important identity I have kept my whole life.

So what about you? How do you feel when you really belong?

There something powerful about that feeling. It’s in our human nature to want to belong, to be part of a tribe. The problem is that this feeling is missing for so many people. Unfortunately, COVID has even made the situation worse. Young people, especially, are feeling increasingly disconnected.

It’s in our human nature to want to belong, to be part of a tribe. Click To Tweet

While we are connected more-and-more virtually, we are becoming disconnected both physically and emotionally.

Human connection was a primary topic in my conversation with Gabriel Klingman on my recent podcast episode. Gabriel was a manager at Starbucks for nearly a decade. One of the things he observed about young people is that they had a real “longing to belong.”

He also observed that, if you could create an environment where they felt like they were part of something special, it unleashed their potential as an employee. They became dedicated to what they did because there was a feeling of belonging.

He observed that belonging drove performance, especially with younger employees.

Creating a sense of belonging is an integral part of leadership. As you build your team, you need to consider if your employees feel like they belong to something special.

Have you created an environment where it’s special to be part of your tribe? Or is it just a job?

Work has the potential to be more than just a four-letter word. It can be where people can go, have friends, and strive together towards a common goal.

Work has the potential to be more than just a four-letter word. Click To Tweet

For some people, it might be the only place where they feel like they belong. They might have a troubled home life, but when they come to work, there’s stability. I know for me, my business feels more like a family than a company.

The question is, how can you create a culture of belonging within your team?

Creating a high-performance culture and a high-performing team requires a feeling of belonging and connection.

I challenge you today to think about how you can create a tribe with a true sense of belonging. It will help your employees reach their full potential and help you become a more effective leader.

Listen in to my whole discussion with Gabriel Klingman here.

I have the watch

 

P.S. I understand many who are reading this have bosses who don’t understand the value of people and relationships. For those of you with bosses like this, I am offering a new service. For just $10, I will anonymously mail a copy of my book, “I Have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following,” to your boss with a personal note. Click here and enter the discount code BOSS at checkout.

Are Employees an Expense or an Asset? The Answer May Surprise You

“Being an employee of several different companies, I can honestly say that I’ve felt like nothing more than a line item on a spreadsheet somewhere that an accountant is desperately trying to eliminate.”

This comment was written by a reader on my recent article, Putting Employees Ahead of Customers, and it got me thinking. Why do so many managers treat their employees like a cost that needs to be eliminated?

My conclusion was that the problem may be related to accounting. Why? Because in accounting, employees are an expense.

Consider this. By accounting rules, the cost of workers is treated as an expense on the income statement. In fact, personnel expense is one of the highest costs a company incurs. Many managers see this sizable cost every month and conclude that people are expensive. They see people as a problem. By seeing people as a costly expense, these managers think that a quick way to more profits is by reducing people or salaries. They look at employees as an expense or a problem that must be reduced or eliminated.

“Assets are company resources which have future economic value.”

Great leaders see things differently. They consider employees as an asset. In accounting terms, assets are company resources which have future economic value. Instead of seeing employees as a problem, these leaders see them as a valuable resource. They know that people have the capability to grow sales, satisfy customers, improve processes, innovate products, and do countless other things that add money to both the top and bottom line. As a CEO, I see daily examples of this in my business, Peak Demand.

If you think of employees as an asset, as I do, you treat them differently. You understand the importance of keeping them happy and operating at peak performance. You recognize the importance of leadership. You realize your team will be at their best when they are loved, appreciated, respected, engaged, and acknowledged.

It seems simple to me but it’s not often practiced. I think one of the problems is the lack of leadership training in business schools. Most graduate and undergraduate students take multiple courses in accounting but they may only attend one or two lectures on leadership. The result is we are sending young managers to the workplace with a belief that numbers are more important than people.

“Great leaders know better”

In accounting, employees are an expense but great leaders know better. They know people are an asset that represent the future results of a company. They see their team as an important resource that needs to be led properly to maximize performance. They understand their team will be at their best when they are loved, appreciated, respected, engaged, and acknowledged.

Where do you stand? Do you see employees as an expense or an asset? Have you worked for a manager who treated you like an expense or a problem that needed to be reduced? How did that feel? Have you worked for a leader that treated you like an important asset? What was that like? Let me know in the comment section below.

5 Keys to Setting the Tone as a New Leader

Whether you’re a first-time leader or an experienced manager in a new role, the first 100 days are critical. People are watching you closely which can be intimidating but it also can be used to your advantage.

“As a leader you set the tone for your entire team.” Colin Powell

Setting the tone is imperative during these early days. Here are five things you can do to let people know what type of leader you are.

Create a buzz. Do something to get everyone talking. Make it extreme so the message is clear. This is something I always do. In one manufacturing plant, I had the maintenance team paint over all the signs for the reserved parking spaces for managers, including mine. The message was simple, there is no special treatment for managers. We are in this together.

Set the example. Your minimum behaviors will be your team’s maximum performance. If you expect people to be on time, you need to be on time. If you expect managers to get out of their offices, you need to be out of your office. If you expect people to wear their safety equipment, you need to wear your safety equipment. It’s simple. Just as children follow a parent’s lead, your team will take cues from you.

“The reality is that the only way change comes is when you lead by example.” Anne Wojcicki

Signal your priorities. What’s important to you will be seen by your team. If you spend the first hour of the day on your computer and not with your team, they will see that. They will assume they are not as important as your e-mail. If you spend a meeting constantly looking at your phone, they will assume their presentation is not a priority for you.

“You are the leader and the troops will reflect your emotions.” Colin Powell

Establish the mood. We all know attitude is contagious. Regardless how you feel, you need to be upbeat and optimistic around your team. You still need to be empathetic when you have serious issues to deal with, but if you are consistently upbeat and in good spirits, the team will demonstrate the same. In the same respect, if you are quiet, unresponsive, angry, abrasive, sarcastic, or hidden, the life will get sucked out of your team.

“See and be seen. Get out of your office, walk the talk, make yourself visible and accessible.” Bill Marriott

Be open, available, and visible. Go to where your people are. Greet them every day. Show interest by actively listening and being open. Engage them on the subjects they care about. Your team will see you care and are interested in their thoughts and opinions. They will see you as open and willing to listen. They will be more likely to share their true feelings about the challenges they face.

Setting the tone early is critical. All eyes are on you as the new leader, so make it count. Create a buzz, set an example, show your priorities, establish the mood, and be present. These activities will let your team know what kind of leader you are and what your expectations are. This will help you down the line when you need their help to tackle the tough issues.

To learn more about how respected leaders set the tone, read Colin Powell’s leadership book, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership.

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.