The importance of employee relevance and contribution

By Mark LeBusque. Published at Sep 25, 2020, in Features

People with a sense of security and belonging are stabilised for learning, creating, innovating. A group of wonderfully cared for, confident individuals will generate great ideas – John Sweeney

We all long to belong – it’s how humans are hardwired as social species.

Once we feel that strong sense of belonging it opens up the possibilities for high performance within a team. Knowing that as an individual you can contribute to a greater cause is not only satisfying, it’s grounded in building sense of worth and self-esteem.

This is where we tap into our learning, self-awareness and ability to be creative and cohesive within a group. Organisations are a system comprising of humans who in themselves are a system of sorts. Whilst there is a level of complexity about humans, there is also a simplicity that many managers fail to tap into and miss a great opportunity to fully develop individuals and teams from good to great ones.

This is where most managers make the big mistake, and miss the chance to do something that all humans crave, but the majority don’t get to experience.

Getting clear about their relevance and contribution and immediately feeling a strong sense of belonging to the team, department and organisation.

So, what do managers miss when they are eager to mobilise a new starter as soon as possible?

In my first book, ‘Being Human’, I describe the missed opportunity of creating a real sense of belonging at this critical point in time.

Managers can get focused on the ‘doing’ and the technical work when there is an opportunity to refrain from going there and step into a short and sharp conversation that will create a strong sense of belonging.

All it takes is a ten-minute investment in time, and a conversation that ensures a member of your team feels a true sense of belonging.

It’s all about two words - relevance and contribution.

‘Be crystal clear about every team member’s relevance and contribution’

You might be asking what does this have to do with setting up a team member for success?

Human beings are sense makers, and are curious to understand how as an individual team member they contribute to the team, department and overall organisation delivering on the strategy and business success.

Mark Peter Hughes captures this beautifully in this quote “How could you ever feel comfortable if no matter where you went you felt like you belonged someplace else?”

Ten minutes and a conversation about the following will not only set them up for success, but more importantly help them make sense about what it is you see in them that will benefit the team and the organisation.

Why they are relevant.

How they will contribute.

This is not only about their technical skills, it includes their human skills.

Managers must talk about both in order to start building that feeling of belonging.

Here's an actual example on how to articulate the relevance and contribution of the human skills.

Trevor joined his team and one thing that was clear from the interview was that he has a unique ability to speak his truth and say what needed to be said. A well intentioned ‘professional agitator’ if you like.

The conversation went a little like this:

‘Trevor you are relevant because you bring something to our team that we have been missing. An ability to challenge and agitate when we are all in ‘group think’. This contribution excites me because we have lacked a voice that will challenge us all to see things a different way’.

Immediately, Trevor felt a sense of being valued not just for his technical skills (he was an amazing solution builder and negotiator), but also for what he contributed through his human and behavioural skills. It gave him permission to bring his uniqueness to the table in order to help the team be successful.

Gallup research identified that 93% of employees who feel valued and clearly understand how they are relevant say they are motivated to do their best by their employer. That’s reason enough to invest ten minutes to articulate why you value a team member.

The first step towards this is to create both self and team awareness of the relevance of being relevant. It is then critical to continue to reinforce their relevance and contribution at every opportunity you get.

It's what we are hardwired to do.

Be Human.

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