How to Build A More Inclusive Team

by | Mar 1, 2022 | Podcast

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What is belonging and how do you build an inclusive team? Why does it matter?

“Inclusivity means not ‘just we’re allowed to be there,’ but we are valued. I’ve always said: smart teams will do amazing things, but truly diverse teams will do impossible things.” ~ Claudia Brind-Woody – Executive at IBM

I love this quote from Claudia Brind-Woody. If you want to build an exceptional team and company, you must create an environment where everyone feels included, valued, and as they belong. Because diverse and inclusive teams go on to do impossible things.

But what does belonging actually mean? And how do you create a team that is inclusive and encourages belonging?

No one wants to feel like an outsider on a team, but unfortunately, many do. I can promise that you have people on your team who don’t feel like they belong — who absolutely feel like outsiders. Leaders need to address belonging to create a much more inclusive, safe space for everyone on their team.

In this week’s episode of Reflect Forward: Advice From a CEO, I discuss why it’s important to create a sense of belonging on your team and how to go about doing it.

The first step is to define what belonging means to you, your team and your company. Belonging means different things to different people. Survey your team to find out what belonging looks and feels like to everyone on your team so that you can find common language and meaning.

For some contact, the Cambridge Dictionary defines belonging as “a feeling of being happy or comfortable as part of a particular group and having a good relationship with the other members of the group because they welcome you and accept you.”

The next thing you need to do is get to know people on your team and help them get to know each other. When you take the time to understand people and their life stories, you build deeper connections and create opportunities for understanding. As Berne Brown so articulately says, “Never underestimate the power of being seen.”

Another important aspect of belonging comes in the form of giving feedback. It takes trust and respect to deliver meaningful and helpful feedback. And there is nothing kinder than saying, “I care enough to share this feedback with you.” Giving and receiving feedback creates opportunities for meaningful dialog, deeper understanding and a sense of belonging.

Always lead with gratitude. As often as you can, say, “Thank you. I really appreciate you. I liked your idea and the different point of view you brought to the conversation.”

Finally, create team operating principles that define the team’s purpose and articulate the behaviors and attributes required to succeed. Operating principles create clarity, alignment, and healthy teams – but only when team members hold themselves and each other accountable to living the principles.

Question of the Week

This week’s question comes from a fellow YPOer who asked, “Kerry, how do you always stay so focused?” Listen to my tips on staying focused and getting things done.

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I talk about my friend Chris Schembra and his Gratitude Experience in the episode. You can find out more here.