If you want to create an inclusive work environment, you have to work to build a culture that allows all team members to feel valued and understood. Here’s how.

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Team members often thrive when they work in an environment that’s not only conducive to growth, but also allows them to belong in the “in crowd” of your team. In fact, everyone should be included in the “in crowd.” 

If new members can’t create synergy by merging with existing team members, your growth will be at a standstill. In this article, I will outline how you can foster a culture of inclusivity to truly make your agents feel like they belong.

1. Foster a positive environment

Our team environment is much like the air we breathe. We never notice when we breathe, but we are constantly and consistently doing it all the time. Much like breathing, we’re always cultivating our work environment, which is essential to any team’s proper functioning.

A key part of our team’s environment is team identity, which allows us to foster an environment where all of our agents feel like they’re included in the conversation. When creating your team identity, you need to take four things into consideration: the team’s mission, dreams, vision and values.

2. Bring your values into focus

The values you choose to represent your team greatly influence how you form your team’s culture. If you want a culture that’s just exclusive enough to give you a competitive edge but inclusive enough to attract great people (which will allow you all to grow and thrive together), the values you choose have to work to create this culture for you.

Start by explaining what you believe in and why. This will shape your training and allow others to communicate a consistent message that you all believe in. What are your nonnegotiables? How can your team members win and thrive with you? What are the things they should never do — ever — as they would violate your values? 

3. Build and nurture relationships

To promote a culture of inclusivity, you need to first start by building relationships — and trust — with your agents. Not only does this increase learning opportunities, but it also allows for critical feedback.

Forging these strong relationships will help your team members work together with a common sense of trust, which makes everyone feel like they’re an important part of your team — and that they belong there.

4. Understand others

To support your team with inclusion, you need to understand who you have on your team and their perspectives. In a team setting, your agents’ different talents and diverse perspectives are their contributions, what allows the whole team to shine exponentially brighter. 

There are a multitude of tests and educational programs that you and your team can take to understand each other better such as DISC, Kolbe Index, Myers–Briggs, NLP Representational Systems, emotional intelligence tests and so many more. 

Every time you choose to expand your perspective, you are moving forward to know your agents and promote inclusion within your team’s culture. The more you allow yourself to see who you are in comparison to the world, the more you understand how diverse and inclusive the world is.

Are you receiving our weekly Teams Beat newsletter? For the teams latest news, insight and trends, subscribe here.

Kathleen Black is the CEO of Kathleen Black Coaching and Consulting in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Connect with her on Instagram at @kathleenblackcoaching or through her website ItTakesa.Team.

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