The Organizational Value of Community

In today's corporate landscape, many companies are struggling to build genuine communities within their organizational structures.

It’s a trend that doesn’t just impact employee satisfaction or corporate culture – it has direct implications on a company’s bottom line. With the understanding of employees as valuable human capital, this inability to foster a sense of community proves to be a grave oversight.

Companies often fail to build communities because they view their employees primarily through the lens of their work roles.

They fail to recognize that individuals are multidimensional, each possessing a unique set of skills, experiences, and perspectives that extend beyond their job descriptions. This narrow view can stifle innovation, hinder collaboration, and lead to a disengaged workforce, which are all detrimental to a company’s profitability.

Moreover, the traditional hierarchical structure prevalent in many organizations can act as a barrier to building community. Such structures often foster a competitive environment where power dynamics hinder open communication and collaboration. They promote a culture of individual achievement over collective success, which is antithetical to the spirit of community.

True communities within companies nurture a sense of belonging, encourage collaboration, and value diversity and individual contributions.

They provide a supportive environment where individuals feel valued not just for their work, but for who they are as people. This sense of belonging and value has been proven to increase job satisfaction, employee retention, and productivity – all of which positively impact a company’s bottom line.

Furthermore, communities within companies allow for shared ownership and responsibility. When employees feel that they are part of a collective endeavor, they are more likely to take initiative, offer ideas, and go the extra mile. This sense of ownership and responsibility can drive a company’s innovation and growth.

In order to foster such communities, companies must shift their perspective and value individuals beyond their roles. This involves promoting open communication, encouraging collaboration, and recognizing and valuing the diversity and unique contributions of each individual. Leaders must embody these values and principles, setting the tone for the rest of the organization.

Companies must also adopt a trauma-informed approach, something very near and dear to my heart, understanding and accommodating the effects of trauma on individuals in the workplace. This involves creating safe spaces, providing resources for healing, and fostering resilience. When companies show that they care for their employees’ wellbeing, it boosts morale and loyalty, contributing to a stronger community and better business performance.

Here are 3 practical tips to help you begin to focus on the importance of building community inside your organization, along with their potential pitfalls and a way to help prevent it:

  1. Establish a Shared Vision and Values: An important step towards community creation is developing a shared vision and set of core values. These provide a foundation on which the community can grow. They give employees something to rally around and create a sense of collective identity. It’s not just about aligning with the company’s goals, but about embracing a common purpose that transcends the day-to-day tasks. Having regular open discussions about the vision and values, and how the community is upholding them, can foster a sense of unity and purpose.

The potential pitfall here is that a shared vision and values can sometimes be seen as a top-down directive, leading to a lack of genuine buy-in from employees.

Solution: To mitigate this, it’s crucial to ensure that the vision and values are co-created with input from all levels of the organization. This could be achieved through workshops, surveys, and open discussions. Ensuring that every voice is heard fosters a sense of ownership among employees, making the vision and values truly shared.

  1. Promote Cross-Functional Collaboration: Traditional team structures can sometimes create silos that hinder community formation. Encouraging cross-functional collaboration can help break down these barriers. This could involve setting up project teams with members from different departments, having regular interdepartmental meetings or social events, or creating an internal mentorship program that pairs employees from different areas of the business. By enabling employees to work together in various contexts, they can develop a deeper understanding of each other’s roles and perspectives, fostering a sense of community.

The potential pitfall here could be that employees may feel pulled in too many directions and struggle to prioritize their workload, leading to stress and decreased productivity.

Solution: Managers can help mitigate this by providing clear expectations and ensuring that their teams have the resources they need to effectively collaborate across functions. Regular check-ins can help managers understand the challenges their team members face and provide appropriate support.

  1. Adopt a Servant Leadership Model: Servant leadership is a philosophy where the leader’s main goal is to serve their team, rather than commanding them. This can facilitate the formation of a community as it fosters trust and mutual respect. Leaders who practice this style prioritize the growth and wellbeing of their team members, focusing on their personal and professional development. They value open dialogue, empower employees to make decisions, and show appreciation for their team’s efforts. This leadership style can create an atmosphere of mutual respect and collaboration, crucial elements for a successful community.

The potential pitfall here is that the transition from traditional hierarchical structures to servant leadership can be challenging. Some employees may resist the change, and leaders themselves may struggle to adopt the new mindset.

Solution: Providing regular training and coaching for leaders can help ease this transition. It’s also important to communicate openly with all employees about the change, explaining the benefits of servant leadership and addressing any concerns they might have. Recognizing and celebrating the leaders who successfully adopt this style can also encourage others to do the same.

Ultimately, by failing to build true communities, companies are missing out on the potential to harness the full value of their human capital. When they create environments where individuals feel valued and connected, they not only promote individual wellbeing but also drive organizational success. The bottom line is clear: building community isn’t just good for people, it’s good for business.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *