October 21, 2020
By Div Manickam, Forbes
I first felt my heart skip a beat when I learned about belonging, along with diversity and inclusion, from Pat Wadors. Her course changed my world.
You might be constantly asking the question: “Do I fit in on this team and in this company?”
Now, a better question to ask is: “Do I belong on this team and in this company?”
To “belong” is a simple word, but it has grown to mean a lot more. In every team, workplace and community that you are a part of, ask the question “Do I belong?” versus “Do I fit in?”
I look back to my childhood days when the first group of friends helped me to realize that I belong even though we were in an international Indian school with students from around the world. I never asked what belonging meant in a team or a workplace or a community. Each experience over the past few decades has helped me realize that the world is more united than distributed, with our diverse perspectives across ethnicities, genders, ages and disabilities, to name a few.
Career Transition: Finding A New Home Where You Belong
When you go through a career transition, this becomes paramount. It requires finding your purpose and a place where you can be your own true self. A friend of mine shared two questions with me that I keep on sticky notes in front of my workspace at home:
• Is it making me happy now?
• Will it make me happy in the future?
This made me wonder, would these simple questions answer the power of belonging?
As I interviewed for a new role, I was in search of companies and teams that lived by their values and whose values resonated with my core beliefs. It’s one thing to talk about diversity and inclusion, but actions speak louder than words.
If you are in a career transition and find a good role, look at the company’s culture and values. Are the values authentic? Consider asking for examples from the hiring manager or human resources team of how they live their values.
Here is a question that helped me assess mutual fit, synergy and a better understanding of the role and responsibilities ahead: “What is the No. 1 challenge/opportunity for this role on day one, or after 30 or 90 days?”
If you get an honest answer, then you know what to expect. Yes, there will always be ambiguity. That’s where the fun begins to challenge the norm. Bring your authentic self to help solve these challenges, and prepare yourself and the team for the future. Personally, this question helped me to assess if I would belong in the new environment, and the answer is important to help make the right choice with the context you have.