Leading Belonging

Belonging is trending in the DEI world, but do we actually know how to make it a reality. Mindi Cox, Chief Marketing and People Officer at O.C. Tanner, joins Nikki Lewallen Gregory on Gut+Science to share how empowering frontline leaders is key to a successful belonging strategy.
Here are Nikki’s key takeaways:

1. What Can I Give? How am I Helping People Feel They Belong?  

“I think the shift in work and also the evolution of leadership thinking has been more about a fair exchange of that. And the magic that happens when we are both asking, ‘What can I do?’ So that trust has to flow both ways. And the social consciousness that is been deeply overdue for so long is now unavoidable in every setting, which is a great thing. It’s also given license to people whose voices may have represented a change or an uncomfortable truth for companies to say, ‘I get to expect to feel, to belong as well.’”
2. Empower Frontline Leaders to Be Influencers 
“Belonging really happens at the closest relationship that an employee has in the company. And for us, that means that we really need to pour into frontline leadership and the fact that we can have awesome benefits and an awesome purpose and wonderful products and amazing clients. If that day-to-day experience does not foster a sense of belonging, a fact that I not only belong here, but I’m wanted here. I’m valued here. I’m needed here, I add to the synergy of my team and what we are able to deliver collectively. That’s where it breaks down. There’s nothing we can do at a corporate level that will ever substitute for an immediate leader making sure their employees know two things at the end of the day. One: Do I matter? And two: Belonging.”
3. Data Helps Us Surface What We Can’t Observe 
“Sometimes you think, gosh, can this really be quantified? How can I see the invisible and for our team? It really is about sort of surfacing what we can observe. Surfacing things people either haven’t been asked or haven’t had a forum to discuss but are relevant to the workplace experiences and the outcomes we’re trying to generate. So we measure employee experiences by team, and we use that information to pair leaders who are succeeding in one area with those who are struggling. Our holy grail is a consistency of great experience across the organization.”
4. Stay Consistent in Your Message and Commitments 

“Making sure you’re very consistent about the message is job number one. I think there are sometimes where organizations get very tempted to try whatever the latest article somebody read about an organization did. It’s so easy to go to a conference or read an article or see a case study and say, ‘You know, that’s the outcome we’re trying to get to. Let’s try that.’ But I think knowing deeply what your culture is about and knowing deeply what your employee value proposition, getting clear on the experience we’re trying to create really necessitates a very custom approach.”

How are you leading belonging in your workplace? We’d love to hear your story!

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