The Corporate Community in a Divided World

We live in a world split apart, and the divides are getting wider and the chasms deeper. The exasperation of everything makes the challenge seem overwhelming and unsolvable. It is here that organizations of all sizes have a unique opportunity.

Recently I stumbled across a blog post by Chip Gaines of the popular TV show Fixer Upper. In the post Chip promotes the idea of kindness in the world. I think this is a good instinct and his post is a good place to start this article. Chip comments; “I believe that we are all made in likeness, and because of that, our hearts are naturally drawn toward one another.” I too believe this is true. No one likes to be lonely. We are naturally inclined to seek community, whether the community is a healthy one (church communities) or not (street gangs) – people want to belong to something. Chip focuses the post on making the choice of seeing how we are alike and not how we are different.

Unfortunately, we are fed a steady diet of divisiveness. There is less drama in the idea of unity and therefore less media promotion of it. Media seems to believe that focusing on (and in many cases provoking) the divide is what makes media successful – unfortunately this seems to be true. Humans are strangely conflicted – our hearts desire unity, specifically with those that are close to us (family, friends, neighbors, work, etc.) while our appetites consume divisiveness (usually at an arm’s length; tv, social media, etc.).

That said, togetherness, community, belonging does indeed matter to people, and matter to your employees. With this backdrop, how do you build healthy community in your organization? As an organization you likely have one indelible advantage. Proximity. You have groups of people (likely diverse) coming together in community to get a job done. Can you exploit that to your advantage and the advantage of everyone? Not in a negative or manipulative way, but in a way the promotes human flourishing. I think if you put your Human Resource thought leaders to task on this idea you may be amazed at what they come up with. I also think you will be amazed at the practical business outcomes.

Looking for an example? Here is more from Chip: “At Magnolia, we have written something we call the Magnolia Manifesto, which serves as a cornerstone or lighthouse of sorts, as something we can point to and say this is what we believe to be true. There’s a particular line that kept returning to me again and again these past few weeks: “We believe in human kindness, knowing we are made better when we work together.” Ain’t that the truth..” Here is a link to the blog post: Joanna & Chip Gaines blog

There are an infinite number of ways to build community. Most organizations have already accounted for the most difficult part of the task – which is the bringing together of people. Joanna & Chip’s Magnolia Manifesto is one example of how an organization can build a healthy (work) community. Corporate culture can be defined as the accumulated attitudes, beliefs, & behaviors of its people. Promoting the attitude ingrained in the Magnolia Manifesto that a corporate community is better when working together, in kindness towards others, and getting a job done is a good thing, one that likely permeates into the attitudes and behaviors of the Magnolia (work) community and thus making it a better place for those living/working in it.

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