I’m running a workshop today around belonging: a value that we calculate for the varied spaces that we occupy, and which, when present, appears to give us something tangible and desired.
We seek to belong, but exactly what we belong to varies: simple things like genetic links, payment, and location do not in themselves guarantee that we feel we belong. People may be related, yet disconnected, may be paid, yet not feel they belong, and be together in body, and yet apart in culture.
Belonging is clearly a feeling, not a contract, and perhaps an investment, as well as a cost. By belonging we gain something, and yet lose something else. To belong will require us to conform, or behave, in certain ways.
Much language of the aspirational organisation revolves around belonging: how we should be at home at work, bring our whole self, or find the space to be trusted and fair. And yet what do we think we gain when people belong?
Can you run a successful organisation if people do not feel that they belong within culture? What, tangibly, does belonging give us, as individuals, or Organisations?
Most likely it acts as a catalyst, lubricant, and moderator, of individual action: we behave differently when we feel that we belong.
But that feeling should be a reminder: just because i feel that i belong, does not mean that you do, and from the outside, i may never know.