Do I Belong?
Kim Johnson, director of sales at RAB, recently had her first college visit with her oldest daughter Reagan. Touring the campus, they looked at the surrounding community, the buildings, the academic accolades, any extracurricular activities available and the general lifestyle of the campus. After checking all of those boxes, Reagan said, “I just don’t feel like I belong here.”
Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB
Whether you manage a team, or you are helping clients manage customer expectations and experience, there are valuable lessons here. The logical conclusion was that the “facts” all lined up, it was a great university. However, the feelings didn’t match the facts. The feelings beat the facts.
At RAB, we teach that people buy (make decisions) based on emotion and justify with logic. Kim’s daughter exemplifies that philosophy.
Cornell University describes the metric “sense of belonging” like this:
Belonging is the feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion and identity for a member of a certain group. It is when an individual can bring their authentic self to work. When employees feel like they don’t belong at work, their performance and their personal lives suffer. Creating genuine feelings of belonging for all is a critical factor in improving engagement and performance. It also helps support business goals.
As team managers, do each of your team members feel like they belong? Have you asked them lately? Identifying opportunities for enhancing their sense of belonging will have a “critical” impact on improving their engagement and performance.
As business consultants, do your client’s customers feel like they belong when they do business with them? Do your clients feel like they belong when they do business with you?
Lots have been written on these pages and others about creating a sense of belonging for customers or teams. All of the advice focuses on three main things:
1. Being authentic – trying to be something you’re not doesn’t work
2. Invite input – people who are asked to help make decisions about changes or feel included in setting direction are more likely to engage
3. Connect your team/clients to the purpose of your company. Purpose aligns with beliefs – beliefs fuel passion and passion fuels performance
The more research we do, the more it seems clear. The cold hard facts are just that – cold and hard. It’s the feelings or the “warm and fuzzy” that drive decision-making. How do you feel about that?
Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at Jeff.Schmidt@RAB.com. You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.