Mattering or Marginalizing?

April 1, 2009 -- Sal Silvester

I recently learned a new concept from a colleague Amy Tolbert at ECCO International. Actually, it wasn't a new concept but it was just framed in a way that really resonated with me. It is called Mattering or Marginalizing.

Imagine a continuum, with the far left labeled side "Mattering" and the far right side labeled "Marginalizing". Now think about a colleague, and imagine how you interact with this person. We all make choices on how we treat others, and those choices fit somewhere along the continuum of Mattering or Marginalizing.

When I ask people in workshops what it feels like when they "Matter" in the workplace, they generally respond with comments like, "I feel part of the team," or "I feel included," or "I know that my opinion counts."

When asked how they feel when they are "Marginalized" in the workplace, common responses are of being excluded, not sharing in common goals, and contributions that go unnoticed.

So, what's the impact of feeling like you Matter or feeling Marginalized?

Research shows, and so does common sense, that when people feel like they matter, they are committed, they put in the extra hours, they make the extra effort, and they are more productive and more effective at work. When people feel marginalized they check-out as early as possible, they do just enough to get by, and they say things like "that isn't part of my job description."

In a time when doing more with less is the norm, will people surrounding you be more productive when they feel like they matter or when they feel marginalized?

Regardless of whether you are the CEO, vice president, middle manager, frontline supervisor, or team member - think about how you choose to work with others.

Will you choose to make them matter?

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