How great would you want your team to be?

Take a moment to think about it.

Highly-productive, with better collaboration and outstanding accomplishments, right? 

I bet you want that and even more. Allow me to congratulate you.

By reading this post, you'll have taken the first step to ensure that happens. A great sense of belonging is an incredible force in the workplace which brings better productivity and results by making everyone easily fit into any organization or team. Besides, it increases loyalty and makes people less likely to leave. 

If it isn't a priority for your team, with reduced social interaction and more people now working remotely, you're setting yourselves for an early knockout - the warning bell has just rung. If you want to avoid all that, keep reading until the end as I reveal to you 7 highly effective tips that help foster a sense of belonging within your team.

#1 Fostering Connections

When all members have good social bonds, they'll feel part of something big as emotional connections with each other strengthens each member's sense of belonging. Strong relationships additionally enable open communication, which helps members collaborate easily as they understand each other better. There'll be no fear for reprisal for communicating what needs to get done. 

These connections can be formed through both in- and out-of-work events, e.g., employer-subsidized team-building activities, company picnics, group volunteering activities, monthly team lunches, and even more personal one's like attending each other's birthday celebration or wedding. To avoid defeating the purpose of socialization, off-work events and activities should be voluntary and not forced on anyone.

#2 Celebrating Success Together

Team celebrations are so memorable that if a member gets left out, it can leave them feeling very lonely. When your team achieves its goals, you should all celebrate together to create strong bonds within the group as you all reflect on the great teamwork that has brought the win. 

RELATED: 3 Tips for Onboarding Remote Employees in 2020 During COVID

#3 Establishing Trust Among Members

Think of all the good things that come from trust being established within a team. 

  • Each person will communicate effectively and not hold up others
  • Members won't duplicate tasks as each person can be trusted to get his/her job done
  • No time is wasted checking if another member is doing their part

Awesome, right?

Even though every team should be built upon a foundation of trust, teams always have trust problems because each person has a different perspective and approach to solving problems. All these lead to lower chances of members trusting each other straight away.

That's why team members should invest time and effort to build trust with each other from the start; it will help their goals faster and much easier. By the team becoming a psychologically safe space for each member, everyone will feel like they belong. On a personal level, if you know your other people fully trust you to do something, you'll have a more comfortable time doing it.

#4 Soliciting Contribution From Each Member

When the input only comes from only a handful of members, others start getting a feeling of exclusion. Leaders should ensure every member is present in all meetings, group brainstorming sessions and ask for everyone's participation to pull in even people who might be feeling ignored. Even "bad ideas" should be allowed to give everyone a chance. With such steps, everyone will feel part of the team, which ultimately gives them a feeling of belonging.

When people are asked to contribute directly - especially new team members – they feel accepted since their opinions matter. For this implementation to bear fruits, members' feedback and ideas should be acted upon to make everyone who contributed feel heavily invested in the team's overall performance.

RELATED: Fighting Loneliness While Working Remotely

#5 Publicly Recognizing Good Results

It's easy for team members who put in a lot of effort and are not recognized for a job well done to feel out of place and undervalued. To make team members feel like they belong, their wins and accomplishments should be publicized to the rest of the organization's workforce. Public recognition via blog posts or newsletters and sometimes rewards are the biggest motivators for teams; they help members build an emotional connection to their team and work(roles).

On the other hand, the rest of the workforce sees how much teamwork and collaboration can make a difference. The same can be done for the most outstanding team member; they should be praised in front of their team.

#6 Planning & Scheduling Regular Check-Ins

With some people being asked to work remotely, check-ins about work and personal life should be made a regular thing by team members. They should make sure they set aside time for one-on-one check-ins where each person gets to ask how the other person is fairing, intently listens to responses given, and even asks some follow-up questions. The best ways to do this remotely includes

  • Cafecito
  • Direct messages or email
  • Phone calls
  • Video or audio chats

For the whole team, there should be planned check-in sessions where everyone participates via

  • Team-wide chats
  • Video meetings

Such gestures will make everyone feel cared for and also foster a sense of belonging. 

RELATED: Finding Remote Roles

#7 Promoting Employee Development

Almost every team member is looking for an opportunity to grow, develop and become better at what they do. If someone lacks some skills or is behind others, they'll feel they're not very useful and almost out of place. 

However, this can be avoided by encouraging peer-to-peer learning, establishing formal and informal mentoring initiatives, and presenting all members with training opportunities. Team leaders should ensure that they create environments with collaborative learning spaces, promote learning as a continuous practice, and set aside for members to share knowledge.

These actions will make members feel more indispensable to their team, make them more productive, and increase their loyalty. Careful consideration should be taken to ensure just enough learning is recommended and courses are not forced on members.

Conclusion

Transforming a team from a just working unit to a united group where each person has a sense of belonging is not a 1-day,1-month, or 1-year thing; it's a continuous process that should be integrated into each organization's culture. That said, it's far from an impossible task; you can use the above points to bring a feeling of camaraderie and create an accommodating environment for everyone to help your team flourish.

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