Have you ever considered why giving service makes you happy?
After all, I’ve even heard some say that giving service is a selfish act; benefiting the giver more than the recipient.
It’s been found that we get these big boosts in all the feel-good hormones when we genuinely serve our fellow humans.
Well, the current theory is rather pragmatic. – Simply put, we’ve had to learn to work together for the good of our whole community/society or we wouldn’t have survived as a species.
We humans are fascinating creatures…
Place just one of us in the wild and you’ll see how truly vulnerable we are (barring Bear Grylls of course). Sure, we may last a little while through our resourcefulness, but,
We aren’t the fastest,
…But damn do we work well in groups.
We had to, or we wouldn’t have made it this far.
Over time we’ve aligned the positive chemical reactions in our brains with actions that support our community efforts to reinforce the very behavior that keeps us dominant on this round planet we live on.
It’s why the pursuit of extensive unrestrained hedonism is usually ultimately unsatisfying. We are communal creatures. It’s a key source of our greatness and power.
Conversely, a rejection or absence of community will trigger ‘feel-bad’ chemicals and responses. We feel those moments deeply because we all have a strong need to belong, to be accepted, to feel included. Not just for self-validation, but because for our ancestors, a rejection from the community meant certain death in the wild-ness of the fast, strong, fierce world.
We humans need a sense of belonging and community almost as strongly as we need food and shelter.
What does this mean for you and your business?
Perhaps you are struggling with silo behaviour? Or low morale & commitment? Or low levels of innovation?
I’d hazard a guess that you don’t have a strong internal community. Your staff don’t feel a sense of belonging, not just to a greater whole (your organisation), but to each other.
It’s important to note that establishing and promoting communities is not a silver bullet for all your staff woes.
But like sleep, food and shelter – your staff cannot run at their best without feeling they belong to a community. It’s a crucial enabler and building block to almost everything else you want from your people.
So this week I want you to have an honest look at the communities (or lack thereof) within your business.
Do you have any?
Are they formal or informal?
Inclusive or exclusive?
Growing or shrinking?
Counter-intuitively, your role is not to create a community, but to create the environment for the communities within your business to bloom.
You can do this by:
- Providing places for gathering to occur, e.g. digitally (forums, social networks) and/or physically (social spaces, presentation halls, etc.)
- Avoiding over-regulation and taking them seriously. Set the ethical ground rules and then let them grow, with a conscious effort to validate time spent in these communities as ‘real work’ – defaulting to yes rather than no.
- Kick-start a few initial groups to get the ball rolling, then hand those over to passionate champions to continue in your stead. You may want to provide assistance with the first few events, relationships, content covered, etc.
- And, crucially, provide a funding bucket for internal communities to fund programs and events. Be generous, the returns will come back tenfold in ways that you may not be able to predict.