Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow, is a frequent speaker on diversity and inclusion and is the former Head of HR at LinkedIn. She recently visited our San Francisco offices joined by our General Counsel Russ Elmer to talk about fostering a sense of “belonging” in the workplace. Pat considers belonging to be the most important measure to gauge how connected people feel to an organization. She advocates for creating a place where employees feel comfortable being their authentic selves.
Below are highlights of Pat’s key points from her visit to LendingClub as part of our Executive Speaker Series. (For more on this series, check out Patty McCord Talks Culture, Innovation, and Commitment to Customers and Jennifer Tescher of CFSI on the Financial Health Crisis).
Research shows that we are genetically wired to belong and, because of that, we often spend a great deal of mental energy (up to 25 percent of our brain power) to mask things we are concerned will keep us from fitting in. That is mental energy that can and should be put to more productive use.
Storytelling builds safety through connection and reveals more of our true selves. Pat calls this the “Iceberg Model.” What we see about a person on the surface is only a fraction of who they really are. As we share stories and lower our water line, the more authentic person emerges and individuals and teams become stronger.
If you feel like you are not meshing with your team, take time to self-reflect, then look for opportunities to give “belonging moments” (treating your peers and colleagues with kindness and care). For example, advocate for others on your team if you feel they are not being heard; take time away from the office to learn about your coworkers. Ask about their career origin story … and really listen. This care for others is likely to boost your own sense of belonging at work.
Not all of us are of each and every community, but we can have empathy for others. Pat calls this “allyship” meaning even if we don’t completely identify with a person, our concern and care for what they say, feel, and do matters and speaks volumes to them. This creates a deeper sense of belonging.
Managers can foster a compassionate culture by expressing gratitude for what employees do and by providing detailed feedback that gives clarity around roles. Pat advocates for continuous feedback, saying a steady stream of feedback helps employees evolve better than a lone performance review.
Saying “thank you” goes a long way to making someone feel like they belong, and we probably do not say it often enough. Expressing gratitude helps colleagues feel appreciated and reminds us of the positive things happening around us. Look for ways your team has gone above and beyond to contribute to the team or make your job easier.
We welcomed Pat to LendingClub headquarters in San Francisco as part of our ongoing Executive Speaker Series which pairs industry experts with our LendingClub executives in conversation about industry trends and hot topics. All LendingClub employees are invited and encouraged to attend. If you are interested in learning more about opportunities within LendingClub, please visit our Careers site.
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