Cultivate Community

May 9, 2023

Is your team or organization suffering from a lack of community? 

I recently toured an office building of a large tech company. It had an exercise room, game room, on-site massage, and a gourmet coffee bar on every floor. I thought, wow! Who wouldn’t want to work here? Yet every floor felt like a ghost town because less than 20% of their workers were physically on-site. So, I asked my host: how do you create community and achieve results with so few in the office?

It stands to reason, and research supports this, that employees who feel connected to their colleagues and to the company are more likely to be motivated and committed to their work, which can lead to increased productivity, innovation, and better overall performance. In fact, according to a recent report, 72% of workers believe it’s critical to them to feel like they belong to a community at work. In contrast, 51% cited the lack of community as their main reason for leaving an organization. So it begs the question, why do leaders not take the time to cultivate community?

For those that attend our Young Professionals Academy, we have found that there are three main reasons why they have either been severely challenged, or as some have bravely admitted, failed at building community.

  1. Time constraints. Leaders felt that they had too many responsibilities and that their time was better spent on other tasks that were more pressing. While time constraints are a valid reason, we view them more as a prioritization issue.
  2. Lack of communication skills. Several cited how uncomfortable and uncertain they felt initiating conversations and building relationships with fellow employees. I for one, completely understand. How much does an inappropriate comment cost? The fear of saying or doing something that may be considered inappropriate, even when it wasn’t meant to be, is valid.
  3. Burnout: The number one reason cited by our Academy participants simply felt overwhelmed and unable to focus on anything beyond their immediate responsibilities.

Regardless of the reason, it’s essential for leaders to recognize the importance of cultivating community and take steps to address any barriers to engagement within the team or organization. The good news is that all of the above can be overcome and we can help.

As one of our core values, we define cultivate community as the active intentionality towards building and nurturing a sense of belonging, connection, and mutual support among a group of people who share common interests, goals, or values. It involves creating an environment that fosters open communication, trust, empathy, and respect while also encouraging active participation and engagement from everyone.

Reflection Questions:

  • What are you doing to create a sense of belonging and connection within your team?
  • How are you encouraging your employees to share their ideas and perspectives, even if they differ from your own?
  • How are you recognizing and celebrating the contributions of your employees?

Scripture Reference: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

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