How to build a sense of community at work? Most businesses hope to build a community of customers. But why not start by building a community within your organization?
In order to feel as though we’re valued, respected, and making a contribution, we need to feel like we’re part of a community. Whether it’s a community of neighbors, volunteers or coworkers, building a strong sense of community brings clarity of purpose to the groups we belong to.
ImportantWhen team leaders make a concerted effort to create a sense of community among the team’s members, productivity and efficiency go up , to everyone’s benefit.
Modern team leaders need to take deliberate steps toward creating a sense of community to support their team members and make them feel involved in the group’s work .
Community can also help create a clarity of purpose for employees, which is essential if you’re looking to reduce your employment turnover rate.
The definition of community in a company can be defined by the appearance of collective energy, safe, friendly work environments and strong inter-company support systems.
ImportantBusinesses on the cusp of change can find that the presence of a strong workplace community makes the difference between success and failure. Shared ownership is the key .
Grow the strength of your business by cultivating an inner community focus.
So how can we go about boosting community spirit within our workplaces? If you want to build a sense of community at work, you should have a look at the tips below for the best ideas on how to bring employees together.
The Big Picture
Many companies establish core values. But again, just like their culture, those values are most often imposed by management. Instead, give employees a voice and ask for their input .
If you want to create a sense of community, not just a workplace, you need to create a real sense of shared ownership among your team.
This means specifically having an alignment between the employees’ goals and the company goals . Everyone needs to be invested in the company mission, understand the role they play in achieving it and willing to work together to make it happen.
It is easy for leaders to forget the power of culture, relationships, and community. Leaders need to create spaces where people want to work.
ImportantDefine values based not only on what your company aspires to, but also what employees value, the impact they want to have on customers and the world, and what they strive for. They must feel that the core values embraced by the leadership are the same values they believe in and are comfortable.
This not only creates a more powerful sense of commitment and ownership, but it also aids in accountability.
WarningAll too often, employees and teams focus almost entirely on their own roles and work processes. They lack a sense of how these efforts fit into the big picture.
It’s up to business leaders to keep up the refrain that “we’re all in this together.”
Emphasize how teamwork, as opposed to solitary workflows, helps move the company forward. Employees with a deeper understanding of the end-result of their work will have a stronger sense of the entire organization moving together to achieve strategic goals.
In addition to cross-functional activity, look for ways to enable employees to bond . This can include team-building exercises and/or offsite gatherings where “work talk” is discouraged, and having fun takes top priority.
Rally the employees to turn out and help out making your community goals become a reality.
Everyone should participate and join in the fun. These events bring people together and facilitate getting to know different sides of people.
Plan events that bring people together in a community.
Choose, for example, feeding the homeless during the Christmas holidays or dropping off toys at a local charity hospital. If the task seems too large, organize the event with other businesses in the area to reach a wider section of the community.
The most obvious way to create a sense of community at work is to organize events outside of work.
WarningAim to make it a low-pressure event, you might love the idea of a group outing to an outdoor adventure park, but this could be some of your employees’ worst nightmare! Think relaxed and informal .
This is not a waste of organizational resources.
On the contrary, when employees in otherwise isolated departments get to know their co-workers, the result is a stronger sense of identification throughout the organization . When they become friendly with fellow employees, they understand that the actions they take often have a ripple effect elsewhere.
Cooperation and collaboration can flourish when employees have this type of mindset.
Foster 1:1 Meetings
Meeting with people individually — one-on-one — not just in groups, enables you to build a base of people who know each other, are accountable to each other and want to build collective POWER!
The one-on-one meeting is essential for building collective power among people in your community.
WarningIf staff members or one or two individuals decide what the problems and solutions are for the community, they are mobilizing people for an agenda, not organizing for power.
One-on-one meetings involve two people sitting down together for ½ hour to 45 minutes and learning what’s important to each other . While that sounds simple, it requires that we use and develop key organizing skills, primarily our communication and listening skills.
Stop talking and start listening.
Important Paying attention is a way to show respect for others , a sense of curiosity, and even humility. Sometimes we don’t have to have the answers or to offer advice. We just need to listen.
Identifying and Linking People
What motivates this person? What does this person want to get out of being a leader in your organization?
When we show we’re committed to listening and sharing one-on-one, we show how much we value relationships.
Creating a Positive Culture
Personally invite people in. Don’t just expect them to respond to announcements.
Offering People a Opportunity
To explore their own ideas and needs, and to share them. One-on-one meetings encourage each of us to know ourselves.
Organizing for power is different from getting people involved and mobilizing numbers.
You have to look for individual people who can deliver, are accountable to others , and can build networks. Look for people who are ready to move to action!
In addition, you should involve yourself in the cares and concerns of your employees.
WarningLearn how to ask appropriate questions like “When does she graduate?” or “How did your mother’s surgery go?” Refrain from being too personal in your questioning .
Be personable without being inappropriately personal.
Encouraging your employees to give feedback as a group can create an encouraging environment that will have benefits for both your employees and for yourself.
You should develop an open-door policy at your company.
Give people an opportunity to give feedback, make suggestions and be problem-solvers . They’ll feel more confident speaking about their concerns or suggestions for the company if they’re in an environment they’re comfortable in.
In the same way, you should practice greater transparency.
WarningSilos crop up when isolated employees or teams know they’re working with an incomplete body of knowledge about the company. In the absence of concrete information concerning the organizational triumphs and challenges, rumors and gossip flourish—contributing to further isolation and diminished motivation.
ImportantA company known for embracing transparency is a company top performers want to work at . This kind of company attitude will build a sense of community profitable for employees and employers.
Reflecting on new ideas suggested by co-workers will promote mutual respect, recognition and ownership within the company.
It used to be that the company water cooler was a great resource for the sharing of information. This is where friendships developed. Now the water cooler has been substituted by social media platforms.
Technology can provide positive community building if used correctly.
Middle managers can use such platforms to bond with co-workers and listen to their suggestions.
Give recognition to teams that achieve goals, even social goals like raising funds for a cause, or meeting quarterly sales goals. This builds the individual, the team and company spirit .
Individuals want to be recognized for their contributions, large or small.
ImportantThey want to know they are valued and that they matter. They want to be part of a successful entity, a winning team and a respected organization . Making this happen is what formal and informal recognition is all about.
Encouragement is the emotional fuel people need to do the things they are afraid to do.
When encouragement becomes part of your company culture, others will fill that role as well, as team members begin to encourage one another.
Saying well done is a powerful motivator and an even better way to create a sense of belonging and appreciation.
ImportantA positive, caring, upbeat attitude doesn’t create entitled employees who become unproductive. Research clearly shows that people who feel cared for will care about the company and work harder for it.
WarningMany people aren’t naturally positive and don’t naturally encourage others. Many leaders aren’t confident themselves , so they revert back to “command and control” rather than care and coach.
In order to build community, leaders must move from me to we.
As a leader, you can be an encourager to your team, and that will inspire emotional trust . The reason that’s important is because you haven’t truly connected with someone until you know his or her true feelings and that he or she is buying into you and your vision.
Fear may be a constant companion to some of your team members, and they need someone to encourage them.
A workplace or workplace culture that creates a toxic and hostile environment erodes team spirit and general engagement. Business leaders need to understand the varied effects the workplace has on people .
Creating a sense of community is one of the areas where we can help your company.
ImportantAt the heart of workplace community is the idea of support and shared ownership : namely that everyone is striving for the same thing and understands why that’s important.
A workplace should be the very embodiment of everything that business stands for – that is how work is done, the culture of its people and their need to collaborate, communicate and work together.
Building a sense of community in your workforce won’t happen overnight. However, when they fail to actually put people first, it hinders their success.
Staff need to feel connected to their team and for this, communication is key . Take the time to connect, listen to and make yourself available to your employees. Foster an open, supportive atmosphere and the rest should come easily.
Many organizations say that their greatest asset is their people.
ImportantBy connecting what you do with the higher purpose found in each of your employees, you can ensure your organization is not only successful, but that it has the means and purpose to thrive both in good times and bad.
Building an effective community based on authentic relationships, radical responsibility and value-driven behaviors creates a sustainable, growth-oriented environment where employees can perform at their peak , even during rapid growth or challenging times.
Are you ready to build a community of like-minded people? Or do you think work colleagues should exist solely in the 9-5? Leave your comments in the section below!