Pump Up the G.A.S. and Fuel a Culture of Belonging
Alice Meredith
GAS

I previously wrote and published this article over on My Mentored Learning’s website, this duplication is intentional and serves the purpose of ensuring that our readers have access to the same valuable content. This article focuses around Culture of Belonging and introducing the concept of G.A.S.

As I’m putting the finishing touches on my latest Pluralsight course, ‘Contributing to a Culture of Belonging’, my mind keeps drifting to the important role BELONGING plays in cultivating change-ready cultures. When people feel like they truly belong, they’re more open to new ideas, more willing to adapt, and significantly more receptive to change. Not only do we become more receptive to change, but when our team members, these powerhouses of talent, feel seen, heard, and valued, the trajectory of the entire company changes. And this, my friends, is the magic of belonging. We will be talking about this as well as introducing the concept of G.A.S.

The Strategic Advantage of Cultivating a Culture of Belonging”

When reflecting on the profound impact belonging has within an organization, it’s essential to recognize not only the emotional and psychological well-being of each team member but also its strategic importance. This begins with fostering collaboration and innovation.”

Picture this: an environment where each individual feels safe to voice their ideas, question the norms, and offer unique perspectives. The result? A hotbed for creativity and forward-thinking solutions that would have otherwise remained untapped. This culture of belonging acts as a catalyst, driving teams towards groundbreaking ideas that are born from diverse minds working together harmoniously.

But the benefits don’t stop at innovation. Belonging has an innate power to armor an organization against unexpected challenges. Think about the last time you faced a setback or a hurdle. It’s human nature to turn to those we trust and feel connected to. Now, translate that to an organizational setting. When employees have a profound sense of belonging, they instinctively reach out, share their concerns, and band together to devise solutions. This isn’t just about collective problem-solving; it’s about harnessing the power of a united front. With a culture rooted in belonging, teams not only weather the storm but often emerge from challenges more robust, more united, and more innovative.

“Introducing the G.A.S. Principle: A Must-Share Strategy for Your Team”

As leaders and team members alike, we often ask ourselves

How can I genuinely contribute to a culture where everyone feels they belong?

 To answer this question, Let me introduce you to the G.A.S. principle, a concept I coined just last week while developing my newest Pluralsight course, ‘Contributing to a Culture of Belonging. I truly believe my newly discovered G.A.S. principle can be a game-changer in redefining not only our own individual experience but the workplace atmosphere at your company.

Before we dive into it, let me set the scene with some universal workplace experiences.

Understanding the Need for G.A.S.: Navigating the Maze of Misunderstandings

Think back:

  1. Have you ever excitedly shared an idea during a team meeting, only for it to get lost in the noise and later presented by someone else as their own? That stinging feeling of invisibility is familiar to many.
  2.  Or perhaps you’ve experienced the discomfort of walking into the break room, seeing small groups chatting, and realizing there’s no space, literally or figuratively, for you. Perhaps an unintentional act, but exclusionary nonetheless.

Both scenarios echo a fundamental human experience—feeling overlooked, undervalued, or misunderstood. Stephen R. Covey’s insight, “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior,” is illuminating in this context. Often, when we act or speak, our intentions are pure, even if they’re misunderstood. On the flip side, when we’re on the receiving end of someone’s actions or words, we tend to judge based on the perceived impact, not the intent behind them. This dichotomy can lead to feelings of exclusion or misunderstanding, even when none was intended.

Understanding the G.A.S. Principle

To bridge this gap between intention and perception, I present to you the G.A.S. principle:

G: Give Grace 

The ‘G’ stands as a gentle reminder that we’re all human. We have our good days and our not-so-good ones. Perhaps someone cut their morning coffee short, or they’re handling challenges outside of work. When someone slips up, extend them some grace by recognizing that a remark or action may not always stem from negative intent. Everyone can have an off moment or perhaps an off morning.

A: Assume Positive Intentions:

‘A’ reminds us to look through a different lens. Instead of a knee-jerk defensive reaction, pause and ponder if there was genuine harm intended. It’s important to understand that most individuals aren’t out to intentionally offend. More often than not, the offending individual might be blissfully unaware of the ripples their action or words caused.

S: Seek to Understand:

Lastly, ‘S’ is our cue to delve deeper and understand the ‘why’ behind actions or words. A quick conversation will often clarify intent and prevent feelings of offense. This simple act of seeking clarity can dissolve many brewing storms of misunderstanding.

The G.A.S. Solution in Action

In the dynamic landscape of today’s workplace, it’s all too easy to feel the sting of unintentional slights or misunderstandings. We’ve all been on both sides of the fence — sometimes causing unintentional offense and other times being on the receiving end. With so many diverse personalities and backgrounds coming together, it’s imperative for all on the team to pause and put a bit of G.A.S. on any one situation before taking offense. This allows us to shift from reactive judgments to proactive understanding.

For leaders, introducing and championing the G.A.S. principle, I believe, is essential. It’s an invitation to every member of your team to adopt a mindset of grace, positive intention, and understanding. When leaders set this tone, they pave the way for a culture where misunderstandings are addressed with empathy and assumptions are replaced by genuine conversations.

As a team member, no matter our job position or job grade, when we step up and do our part to cultivate a greater culture of belonging for everyone, we have the opportunity to be a part of something much greater than ourselves, to help create an environment where every person can thrive, where diversity is celebrated, and where collaboration and innovation flourish. How cool is this!  

Let’s all fuel up and start making a difference today!

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