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Creating a Space for Belonging at Work

Belonging encompasses the feeling that you have value in a home or a place in which you are fully accepted. When it comes to the workplace and inclusive leadership, creating a culture of belonging means more now than it ever has, especially in the wake of the Great Resignation. Seeking to understand your people goes beyond who they are once they walk through the door. It’s a deeper level of recognizing their intricacies that extend beyond the workplace. Everything they go through plays a huge part in who they show up as each and every day. Welcoming your employees’ voices and input helps them feel safe and cared for.

A Deeper Understanding

You know the saying, “walk a mile in their shoes?” One of the biggest mistakes leaders continually display is making assumptions about people.

Assumptions lead to microaggressions, misunderstandings, and otherwise harmful behaviors.

Start to understand your employees better by practicing active listening and including everyone’s voices in the conversation. The deeper your understanding of your people goes, the better suited you will be to find the perfect fit for them within your organization.

It’s equally as important to foster relationships among your team as a whole. When you introduce a new team member, make it personal. Keep the dialog flowing and always make an effort to ask questions about how they are and truly listen to what they have to say. Make it a habit to check back in with them, especially if they have shared a hardship with you. Listening is one of the biggest skills you can hone in on within leadership, and this is a great time for it to stand out.

Learning to Trust

Seek out your teams’ strengths and let them shine. Always get their input and make sure to include everyone on your team when it comes to meetings, gathering opinions, and be sure to always genuinely value their feedback. Ask them where they think they do best and where their biggest area for improvement is. Ask them which part of their job is their favorite; we tend to enjoy doing what we’re good at! If you have already spent time connecting with and getting to know your team better, it won’t be too challenging to discover their unique talents.

On the flip side, learn to let go and not micromanage. Delegating tasks from your to-do list shows that you trust your team to get the job done and can foster collaboration. Accompany these new behaviors with recognition and positive feedback, even if the result is a failure. Commend your employees for trying and testing their limits and show respect by fully engaging in whatever your people have to say.

Inclusion

You can begin this process of inclusion by sharing your own stories first and leading by example to show how powerful the desire to belong really is. Ironically, one of the biggest steps to creating a sense of belonging is, in fact, inclusion. You will only feel that you truly belong somewhere if you are welcomed to the table. Trust is the foundation for any safe space to be possible, but there needs to be an explicit and implicit invitation to your employees to speak openly and honestly. Give them your full attention by making eye contact and eliminating distractions. Let them know by your physical actions that when they speak, you are ready to listen.

Reflection

Mentorship and professional relationships can make or break a career. You can take small steps to improve your inclusive leadership and help someone by sharing your own journey and listening to theirs. You’ll get a chance to share your successes and failures and you’ll hear another person’s diversity of experience. When it comes to creating belonging at work, it isn’t just about creating psychological safety, though of course that is extremely important. But you’re building and optimizing the connection of your community and your people. Embrace a culture of belonging, and you will see your people grow and collaborate even more, which will produce all the positive business results for which you are aiming to achieve.

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Heather Younger
Heather Youngerhttps://employeefanatix.com/
Heather Younger gets it. As a best-selling author, international TEDx speaker, podcast host, facilitator, and Forbes Coaches Council coach, she has earned her reputation as “The Employee Whisperer”. Her experiences as a CEO, entrepreneur, manager, attorney, writer, coach, listener, speaker, collaborator and mother all lend themselves to a laser-focused clarity into what makes employees of organizations and companies – large and small - tick. Heather has facilitated more than 150 workshops, reaching +100 employers and their employees. Her motivation and philosophy have reached more than 20,000 attendees at her speaking engagements on large and small stages. Companies have charted their future course based on her leading more than 100 focus groups. In addition, she has helped companies see double-digit employee engagement score increases through the implementation of her laws and philosophies. She has driven results in a multitude of industries, including banking, oil & gas, construction, energy, and federal and local government. Heather brings a tenacious and inspirational outlook to issues plaguing the workforces of today. Her book “The 7 Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty” hit the Forbes Must-Read list and is a go-to source for HR professionals seeking insight into their organization's dynamics. Heather’s writing can also be found on her blog at EmployeFanatix, as well as articles in Forbes, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, American Express Open Forum, and more. Coupled with her Leadership with Heart podcast, weekly videos, and employer newsletters, Heather stays connected to organizations long after she leaves the stage or conference roomWhen all the emails are returned and the mic is turned off, and Heather acts as co-manager of her busy household in Aurora, Colorado with her husband, where they oversee their four children.

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2 CONVERSATIONS

  1. An excellent article Heather Younger. And, as you suggest, many companies fail to realize inclusion also means actively involving each employee by taking their ideas, knowledge, perspectives and approaches – for example – into consideration in order to maximize the company’s success. As always – not every suggestion, comment or idea shared will have merit, I personally listened to all info employees shared. You never know when that perfect nugget of information will turn – for example – a negative to a positive, a loss into a gain. Bottom line – when we use the phrase ‘inclusive workplace” technically we mean an environment which not only recognizes but values the differences of each individual but the differences of the group as a whole.

  2. Congratulations on the article.
    Supositions can also become our enemies, especially when we do not realize their existence but allow them to determine our decisions, our mood and our behavior.
    Belonging is not so much a “bureaucratic detail”: it is an emotional and psychological factor. When there is a sense of belonging, there is commitment, a clear identity, the desire to do better and a sense of responsibility.
    In addition to the actions you mentioned and well outlined, which are fundamental, I would add sharing the same “creed”, the vision, loving what the company does and recognizing oneself in values ​​and beliefs; Promote competence, meritocracy, the desire to grow and contribute of employees: this is possible by offering different work experiences, which allow people to grow, to learn new things, to put their best qualities into play; Promote internal communication aimed at informing everyone about the decisions that matter. Only if involved and informed about the vision of the company, listened to and called into question (when possible) in the decision-making processes do employees develop the sense of belonging that serves to make a difference.

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