Building Belonging In A Disconnected Workplace: 9 Elements
In disconnected workplaces, it’s on each of us to forge connections. But the path to a connected team with shared belonging starts with leaders’ commitment.
Creating deeper team connections and belonging can begin with holding safe and courageous conversations. After all, you can’t expect to have a collaborative, creative or productive team, if team members don’t feel safe and connected to each other.
Reconnecting teams offers big benefits: better collaboration, productivity, communication, creativity, and job contentment. It minimizes conflicts, breeds respect, and nourishes community and belonging, fueling well-being and satisfaction.
So, what kinds of conversation spaces breed belonging?
In my work to deepen team connection and belonging, we found there are nine essential ingredients for safe, courageous, and vulnerable conversations:
Create Trust. Trust is built over time through consistent and reliable behavior. To create safe and brave conversations, people need to trust each other to keep confidences, respect each other’s boundaries, and follow through on commitments.
Judgment-free Zones. Empathy is essential to creating judgment-free spaces; it’s the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. To create safe and brave conversations, people need to be able to demonstrate empathy towards each other, which involves acknowledging and validating each other’s emotions, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them.
Vulnerability is Vital. Safe and courageous conversations require people to be vulnerable, which means being willing to share honestly and openly about one’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Vulnerability involves being willing to take emotional risks and being seen for who you really are, and knowing that we are here to listen and learn from one another.
Lead with Curiosity. To create safe and brave conversations, people need to be genuinely curious about each other’s perspectives and experiences. This means asking open-ended questions, listening deeply, and seeking to understand rather than judge or criticize. Open-ended, and curiosity-driven questions have potency.
Creating Context. Team members need to have an understanding of what we’re doing with the conversations and why we’re having them.
Resource Commitment. Leaders need to commit the necessary resources, especially uninterrupted time and space, to do the work and have conversations.
Presence by All. Presence is active listening, where everyone is engaged and takes part, even if that’s active listening. These conversations need a commitment from everyone taking part, to be with each other and the process.
Stay in the Hard Parts. Call it the “messy middle” or the “elephant in the room,” most belonging-oriented conversations will touch on issues or themes that make people uncomfortable. Don’t avoid these parts, as this is where belonging takes root. Stay in the hard parts, don’t tap out or avoid difficult conversations.
Commitment to Continue. While having safe and courageous conversations is a great start to cultivating belonging, it’s just one step. Creating the commitment to do something with the conversations, even if that means having more of them, is essential to create the conditions for longer-term belonging.
In our disconnected world and workplaces, leaders need to recognize that building genuine connections is not a mere nicety but a fundamental necessity for a business to thrive.
The journey toward connection and belonging on teams begins with recognizing the power of these ingredients and taking intentional steps to cultivate them within our organizations.
If you want a more trusting team, a culture of belonging or a magnetic brand that attracts more of the right customers, I can help. If you'd like to explore if working together makes sense, drop me a line.
February 6, 2024
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