The magic ingredient in small biz

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The one thing I’ve learnt over my business career, both as an employee and employer, is that if a group of people have a sense of belonging focused on a shared passion they can achieve almost anything together.

When I was asked recently what word summed up my management philosophy my answer was “belonging”.

You can create a sense of belonging through strong values and belief in your mission, and when people share those values and that belief, you end up with a very powerful force.

At the team level, a sense of belonging is achieved when you have respectful relationships; respect for diversity in how different people think and work; high expectations and equity in the shared mission; and the self-awareness among team members to know how they affect their colleagues.

Developing that sense of belonging among your team is made easier when you get your hiring right. It’s a virtuous circle in that if you start out hiring for the types of personalities who can internalise your values then you build the type of culture that fosters a sense of belonging.

Build the type of culture that fosters a sense of belonging

People who feel they belong to something are more likely to reach out and bring others on board to share that passion. When you have employees who feel alienated from their work or from their colleagues, you start to see a breakdown in that sense of community – the tribe starts to splinter.

It gets a lot harder to maintain that sense of belonging as you grow a company. There comes a point when you might start passing people in the corridor and you’ll know the face and name, but not much more about them.

That can be a dangerous point for a business because not only is there a higher risk of alienation but there’s also the danger of competing groups forming within the company. Even those rivalries can be healthy ones, as long as the values underpinning the broader group are still strong.

What you have to defend against is the erosion of the values that helped create the sense of belonging in the first place. That’s where your policies and daily practice come into play, because as soon as the reality on the ground no longer reflects the values you espouse, you’re in trouble.

Keep your values and practice aligned, and your employees are more likely to feel that sense of belonging, engage in their mission, and deliver the passion that takes a business from good to great.

What is your secret ingredient to doing business? Let us know by commenting below. 

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