The Magic Corporate Formula. When 1+1=11?

May 29, 2024 thehrobserver-hrobserver-affiliation

Sounds quite promising, isn’t it? This formula is used by many ultra-successful entrepreneurs who might have horrible math grades and yet, excelled in business.

Earlier, I wrote about the subject of Adaptability within a workplace and today I would like to focus specifically on one of the core elements of it – affiliation. 

In 1959, Columbia University psychology professor and author of the two-factor theory of emotion, Stanley Schachter, published a book titled “The Psychology of Affiliation.” In it, he used the term “affiliation” to refer to the human need for other people.

Schachter noted that one of the motives for affiliation is the search for comparative information in order to reduce one’s uncertainty about their own feelings and reactions.

Affiliation is the need to feel comfortable with other people. It is the need to unite with them in order for something new and interesting to emerge in life. We are not capable of surviving alone. Solitude makes us very vulnerable.

We must understand that to live fulfilling lives, we must do so in connection with one another. This calls for shared emotions, collaborative projects, memorable events, or simply heartfelt conversations. What truly matters is that everyone involved benefits from these interactions, fostering a sense of unity and mutual support.

The capacity to generate value collectively with others is a component of adaptive intelligence.

Affiliation may vary in intensity, ranging from high to low.

Low level is:

The level of affiliation where we engage with other people in some form. However, we are still unsure of how to interact effectively, and may feel hesitant or try to avoid communication.

High level сharacterised by:

  • the ability to engage with diverse individuals, including strangers from different cultures or with different value systems;
  • the ability to obtain valuable products, outcomes, or benefits from this interaction.

Henry Murray, a prominent psychologist at Harvard University during the first half of the 20th century, characterised the need for affiliation as:

  • contact and interaction with close individuals: those whom you love, who are similar to you, and those who are different from you;
  • the ability to bring pleasure to those with whom you interact and to earn their attachment;
  • the ability to remain faithful in friendship and relationships.

Murray reached the conclusion that when you collaborate, you bring satisfaction and mutual inspiration, resulting in benefits for both parties. There is no loss of individuality; rather, the synergy of collaboration leads to a significant increase in productivity.

:::::::   1+1=11 :::::::::

The presence or absence of affiliation is demonstrated through sociability, the inclination to collaborate with others, offer assistance, and spend time together with them.

Affiliation (within a corporate environment) refers to the sense of belonging and connection employees feel towards their organization and colleagues. It is a core element of adaptability as it directly impacts how employees respond to change and challenges. When employees feel a strong sense of affiliation, they are more likely to support each other, collaborate effectively, and embrace organizational changes.

Key components of affiliation include:

  1. Social Connections: Building strong relationships among employees through team-building activities, social events, and collaborative projects enhances the sense of community.
  2. Inclusive Culture: Promoting diversity and inclusion ensures that all employees feel valued and part of the organization.
  3. Shared Purpose: Aligning employees with the organization’s mission and values fosters a sense of unity and common purpose.
  4. Supportive Environment: Providing a supportive work environment where employees can share their concerns, ideas, and feedback without fear of retribution strengthens affiliation.

Why affiliation matters?

Affiliation plays a crucial role in an organisation’s adaptability. Here’s how:

  1. Enhanced Collaboration: A strong sense of affiliation encourages collaboration and teamwork. Employees are more willing to share knowledge, support each other, and work together towards common goals, which is essential for adapting to new challenges.
  2. Resilience to Change: When employees feel connected to their organisation and colleagues, they are more resilient to change. They trust their leadership and each other, making it easier to navigate through transitions.
  3. Increased Innovation: Affiliation fosters a safe environment where employees feel comfortable sharing innovative ideas and experimenting with new approaches, driving organisational growth and adaptability.
  4. Higher Retention Rates: Employees who feel a strong sense of belonging are less likely to leave the organisation, reducing turnover rates and maintaining stability during times of change.

Vivid and striking examples of affiliation can be seen in the movies “Gladiator” and “The Shawshank Redemption”.

If you encounter situations where teams or department heads are not getting along or facing difficulties in reaching a compromise, consider fostering greater affiliation among them. 

Practice (in action). Affiliation exercise (for 2 participants)


  1. One person stands on a chair while the other stands facing him/her, they are holding hands.
  2. Together, they switch positions: as one lowers his/her leg from the chair, the other raises one leg onto it. As the first person sits on the floor, the second person raises their other leg onto the chair.
  3. Without pausing, they repeat the process: the first person returns to the chair while the second returns to their original position.
  4. Throughout the exercise, partners’ hands serve to support each other and provide leverage for pushing off. It’s essential to ensure complete interaction during the exercise, maintaining a steady pace and smooth, fluid movements.

Maria Nova

Managing Director, AQ Institute

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