Friday, 4 November 2016

Belonging and connectedness in teams

As we’ve mentioned in other blogs, belonging is a basic human need that motivates much of our behaviour. It describes the need of individuals to experience the affection of friends, a partner, children or groups in general[1]. The need to belong is satisfied by feeling integrated into a particular environment[2], this could be when a person feels valued for their involvement in a group or situation, or when their core characteristics complement an environment or system[3]. It is suggested that in order to satisfy the need of belonging an individual must:

  • Poses the energy to involve themselves in situations;
  • Poses a desire for meaningful involvement;
  • Exhibit shared or complementary characteristics of the group they want to belong to[4].

Connectedness is related to participation in organisations, society, as well as social networks[5]. Individuals that experience high connectedness are generally better equip to use cognitive processes such as self-evaluation and self-comparison in order to manage themselves[6]. Connectedness is therefore a vital attribute to constructive interpersonal functioning[7] as the effects of low connectedness may include self-estrangement, loneliness, depression and a loss of meaning[8].

Organisations, in very broad terms, will have two groups of individuals: there will the group of collectivists – the people who prioritise and value relationality, and then there will be the individualists – the people who prioritise and value expertise and competence[9]. These preferences can influence a person’s responsiveness to a specific management or leadership style. Literature also suggests that low group connectedness in the workplace increases resistance to authority[10].

So how can you increase connectedness in your teams? The following points provide you with a few ideas of how to take control of the connectedness in your team[11]:

  • As a manager take note of the values and norms of your team members;
  • Take note of the relationships among your team members;
  • Keep on communicating a shared purpose;
  • Emphasise and foster mutual respect including individuals’ qualities, skills, knowledge and experience;
  • Evaluate and foster trust - keep on earning trust and building on existing trust;
  • Encourage involvement from all team members;
  • Understand and appreciate team members’ goals, and how your goals can support each other;
  • Keep on having regular team meetings, discussions and conversations, and keep on bringing the focus back to: why you are a team, why you need each other, and what you expect and need form each other in order to be a high performance team.


Estée Roodt (MCom Industrial Psychology)
Estée is part of our Behavioural Specialist team here at Workpoints. She is our keen researcher, our problem-solver and our number one sports star. 

Workpoints is a fully featured reward, recognition and incentives platform that provides you with the tools to create a high performance organisation. Our easy-to-use application integrates simply into any organisation and instantly encourages staff to do the daily grind with excellence and energy. 

Visit for more info and a free trial!


Crisp, B. R. (2010). Belonging, connectedness and social exclusion. Journal of Social Inclusion, 1(2), 123–132.
Hagerty, B. M., Lynch-Sauer, J., Patusky, K. L., Bouwsema, M., & Collier, P. (1992). Sense of belonging: A vital mental health concept. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 6(3), 172–177.
Lee, R. M., & Robbins, S. B. (1998). The relationship between social connectedness and anxiety, self-esteem, and social identity. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45(3), 338–345.
Maslow,  a. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(13), 370–396.
Shambrook, C. (n.d). Connectedness in teams. Retrieved form:     
Townsend, K. C., & McWhirter, B. T. (2005). Connectedness: A review of the literature with implications for counseling, assessment, and research. Journal of Counseling and Development, 83(3), 191–201.
Wosinska, W., Cialdini, R. B., Petrova, P. K., Barrett, D. W., Gornik-Durose, M., Butner, J., & Griskevicius, V. (2009). Resistance to deficient organizational authority: The impact of culture and connectedness in the workplace. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39(4), 834–851.

[1] (Maslow, 1943)
[2] (Hagerty, Lysnch-Sauer, Patusky, Bouwsema, & Collier, 1992)
[3] (Hagerty et al., 1992)
[4] (Hagerty et al., 1992)
[5] (Crisp, 2010)
[6] (Tesser, 1991, as cited by Lee & Robbins, 1998)
[7]  (Townsend & McWhirter, 2005)
[8] (Bellingham, Cohen, Jones, & Spaniol, 1989, as cited by Lee & Robbins, 1998)
[9] (Wosinska et al., 2009)
[10] (Wosinska et al., 2009)
[11] (Wosinska et al., 2009) and (Shambrook, n.d)

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