As sick as you are of staying-in-shelter, take a moment to learn the most important business lesson of your life. What is home? It’s where you are safest.
Now look at the profession or industry you champion and credential. Where is home for the professional? Where do they have the greatest safety and contribute the most to the world? Where do they trust others so much they share secrets, collaborate and even work with competitors to solve problems of humanity?
It’s in their tribe. Beyond their birth families, most professionals find the tribe they need in circles that work together, learn together and certify on the same knowledge, skills and abilities. Your tribe knows your name and says it when you enter the space where your tribe is communicating. Read that again. It’s where they know your name, remember what you told them already and want to know what you’ll say next.
It’s inclusive—not anonymous, not faceless. Not social media or chat room. It’s where you are safe and can fully explore, express without fear, and become the best version of yourself.
The next time someone asks what your organization does for your profession or industry, the correct answer is you create and provide a safe home for them. What you do all day is provide a sense of belonging. The ones you need the most in your business and in your life—they all know where that home is and where you put the key to get in.
The more you want someone to value your credentials, look at how well you are doing at the belonging and communication aspects of your every thought and strategy.
I’ve been a professional communicator, guide and writer for decades and helped more than 10,000 leaders, like you, cut through the communication confusion, tactics and tools to find the core of what matters. Everyone has a story and I help you tell yours.
When the COVID-19 pandemic required shelter-in-place and social distancing, we put highest priority on communication and how we work with one another. Here’s the first wall we all crashed into: Much trust and psychological safety has relied on physical closeness. That’s the real reason people come to your meetings—to get that fix of belonging that their brain needs to do anything else, including professional development. For the first time in all of our lives, physical closeness is dangerous to our well being, our loved ones and our own life.
We thrive on being part of a group. Without that belonging feeling, fed by 6 million years of tribal behavior among humans, we scramble for solutions that feel like belonging, even if miles apart.
Professions and credentials are about communications, hypercharged. That’s one reason why, as a communicator, I took on the role and challenge of being the storytelling guide for the credentialing industry. Every profession is about belonging and fed by a body of knowledge, a culture, learning ladders and even their own jargon. Outside your tribe, jargon confuses and even causes misunderstandings; still, other communication positives keep it together for you and your tribe.
Humans need to transfer ideas from one person to another, often and consistently. Communication is the word we use for that transference. Miscommunications happens when there’s a difference in experience or differences in definitions between the persons involved
How often do you think someone knows what you said, but it turns out that they didn’t? What happens next? Sometimes the result can cause laughter, but usually not. In business, it can be expensive and even more expensive in a relationship.
As communication modes and strategies shift around from in-person meetings to all other ways we are trying to keep the tribe together and not lose our own mind, focus on psychological safety. This is why thinking before blurting words has always gotten you further. Choose communication that provides a psychology safety so that there is trust and plenty of sharing and innovation.
We’ve got big problems and some major opportunities to be brilliant now. What matters most to your tribe are your communication skills and leadership behavior. Whether done in person or virtually, you’ve got to continually send signals of belonging to let each person know they are valuable members of the team. They want to know where they are needed. Humans need reassurance that they belong.
This week, listen closer and then send a short email or text to tell me if you found this to be true. What your team, your board, your stakeholders are asking for is communication to address their psychological safety as well as professional development. That’s what they might be telling you. They miss that physical touch of the handshake or touch on the arm, sometimes hugs, and the ability to come close and whisper.
So what comes next? Recognize the essence and importance of communication. Think about what makes communication better and what might be a barrier. There’s a lot of irony and challenges now, such as face masks which keep us alive but make us feel awkward.
As you dial up your communication savvy and see this as the way to not just feel your way ahead but actually create something more brilliant than before, here’s a tiny sample of some lessons learned about the business you are in—the belonging business.
Say My Name–People do not want to be treated like everyone else. They want individually-addressed communication. They prefer you talk to them, instead of at them. That’s why an email that sounds like you wrote it just to one person gets more attention than a blast email. That’s why a phone call to ask the person to apply for a board position and why you think the organization needs their specific talents and skills, will always succeed far above a blast email asking everyone to complete an application form.
Chase Me Until I Catch You–Credentials leaders know how to do this, better than most other businesses. You treat people as individuals when they step into your certification, right? It’s highly personal, all around. It feels like a courtship where the focus is on only them, including their education, their experience, their reputation and references, and their test score. You want them to succeed and you put people and processes in place, including mentors and chapter support groups, to make sure they don’t feel alone or quit.
Remember Why I Wanted You In The First Place–To what extent do you keep things personal and individualized one they become certified or all the days between recertification cycles? Oh but that takes time and effort, did you say? Not so. The delighted customer drives revenues up. You might want to learn something about customer relationship management and mass customization, as practiced by companies you feel “really understand me.” More than 20 years of proof and instructions on this abound. If this seems new to you, read the 2005 best-seller Return on Customer: Creating Maximum Value From Your Scarcest Resource by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, PhD.
You Had Me At Hello–My wish for you is that you see the opportunity in personal growth along with all you do in the name of professional development and growth. Then, you’d have no worries about your own growth and revenues. You might like to discover Jamil Zaki, professor of psychology at Stanford University and the author of The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World. Think about your profession and your stakeholders as you read this article from Washington Post, June 1, How the trauma of the pandemic can inspire personal growth.