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The Importance of Community

 

I am a huge fan of the show Community that ran on NBC from 2009 to 2015. You can binge it on Hulu, like I have recently, if you are the kind of person that likes weird, greatly written, sitcoms that do not follow any sort of conventional format.

Community is about a group of misfits that met at community college that happen to start a study group and get into all sorts of crazy situations such as campus wide paintball wars. They all come from different backgrounds. There is the star football player that is trying to re-invent himself after an injury, the retired rich guy who has nothing better to do, the recently divorced mother of two who wants to start her own business, the over anxious high school grad that was addicted to pills… you get the picture.

Although the “Community” in the title is supposed to relate to Greendale, the community college they attend, I think of it more as the community they have created with each other. The support system they all needed to get through life. This study group transcends its purpose to become something much more. Sure, they do not always get along. There are fights and betrayals, loving relationships and treachery, but at its core this is a group of people that care deeply for each other and became much more than each of their individual personas.

This sense of community has been very present in my life lately. Recently I have rekindled with my country of origin roots and started doing more work with the Brazilian community in Michigan. I am working with a fantastic group of people looking to support Brazilians that are coming to live in Michigan. Amongst these are people who are coming to work at companies such as GM, students attending schools in the Metro Detroit area and families that came to re-connect with their loved ones who have been living here for a while. The more I work with these folks, the more I see the critical need for community in our lives. These are people who are leaving everything they have ever known to experience the adventure of living and contributing to a community that is foreign to them. They come not knowing anyone and sometimes not knowing what their purpose will be. Having lived through this myself, when I moved to Michigan to attend Michigan State University, I not only relate but deeply understand the visceral need to be part of a community when you are in unknown and unfamiliar territory. That is what we are trying to do with this new venture I am a part of. Provide a Brazilian community for those who are in need and help them transition into their own communities in Michigan.

In addition to the community I found supporting Brazilians in Michigan, I have also found a community at Bamboo Detroit, a co-working space downtown. As the sole business owner of Wyse Coaching, I am on my own trying to make things happen and working to make my organization the best it can be. It can be a lonely and scary journey at times which made my partnership with Bamboo Detroit so critical. At Bamboo I have found my community. The people here are all entrepreneurs and business owners trying to make it happen, that deeply need support from their peers. At Bamboo we lean on each other to help us breakthrough and positively contribute to the city. We do more collectively than we would on our own.

As I experience the power of being part of something bigger than myself, it makes me think about how leaders onboard their new hires and how it is a critical moment in a new employee’s journey. The new person is not only starting a new job, they are joining a community. They are like the entrepreneurs at Bamboo and the Brazilians I am helping support. They are new to your world and are hoping they can fit in and make a difference. So, what should you do as a leader to ensure that this new person integrates smoothly to your community?

The first step is acknowledging that your team should be a community. Each person on your team plays a role that contributes to the greater good of the collective. Your new employees will do the same and it is critical that they know what role they play and how their role affects others and the community itself. Make sure you are clear in defining roles and responsibilities.

Like it or not, a community or a team, is made of people. Human people. That will work with each other. Don’t just hope that your new employee will magically get to know everyone on their team. Set up introductions, have them shadow their peers, take everyone out. It is your duty as a leader to make your new hire, AND the team, comfortable with this new addition.

Finally, understand that this is an exciting, critical and overwhelming time in your employee’s career. A little hand holding goes a long way. Don’t just through them to the wolves. Support them, ensure their wellbeing. That way when they find their spot, their community, you and the team will become more than you would on your own.

Andre Mello is a Certified Business Coach and might have an addiction to old sitcoms. He has been in marketing and leadership for over 17 years. If you would like to connect with Andre please visit www.wysecoaching.com

 
Andre Mello