I’ve been writing about Charles J. Pellerin’s book, “How NASA Builds Teams”, and measureable team behaviours he identifies as important to effectiveness. This behaviour that Pellerin describes is also related to how much people are made to feel that they “belong”. Though many people, particularly technical people, like to think they are independent, they need to feel appropriately included in the important workings of the organization and team.
What is appropriate inclusion? It is far more than sending out information willy-nilly. We all have in-boxes stuffed with information that should not concern us. Ideally, people feel they get the important information they need to do their jobs and to remain tuned into the big picture, but not so much that they are overwhelmed by incidental detail.
One of the best ways to gage if a person feels included is to find out if they feel heard, and if they believe their opinion matters to their team and to their leader. On high performance teams, people do feel their opinion matters, and so they will go to great lengths to put their best ideas forward. Imagine what great creativity, not to mention critical thinking, can be contributed from all those brilliant people you hire when everyone believes their ideas matter.
Appropriate inclusion should also be considered in your decision making, and this can go beyond simply soliciting input. Are there situations when your team can make meaningful consensus-based decisions?
Thoughtful inclusion is also important when it comes to celebration, reward and other forms of recognition. It is often difficult to remember all the people who may have contributed in some way to the success of a particular project but if someone feels overlooked they can become demoralized and hesitate to put that same effort forward the next time.
At this moment and on your team, can you measure to what extent do people feel included in the important affairs of the team? To what extent do they make the effort to appropriately include other team mates, clients, partners and customers?