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How to Find a Role Where You Belong and Create or Lead an Inclusive Team

About Belonging at Work

Executive Coach Rajkumari Neogy joined ArcVida's CEO Elissa Unton in late August to discuss inclusion and belonging - as the step beyond diversity, incorporating racial justice and equity.  In this blog, we share some of the key questions, answers and advice from that conversation.  Watch the video above of the whole discussion.   

What is Belonging Exactly? How Should We Think about Inclusion?

In the past five years, there has been a significant push for inclusion in the workplace, encouraging leaders to absorb an abundance of programming on how to build inclusive cultures, teams, and brands. But to build anything “inclusively,” we must first saliently understand where we are excluding. We need to focus on the insidious ways in which we permit exclusion in our corporate culture and commit to behaving and thinking differently.

How Can You Find a Work Team Where You Belong?

What questions do I ask in research conversations and interviews to determine how my values and needs will align with an organization?

Values and needs are interchangeable when you're evaluating an organization: your value of trust is a need for trust; your value of belonging is a need for belonging.  Consider an organization's published values or catch-phrases to understand and predict its underlying needs.  For example, the phrase “a bias toward action”  may indicate an underlying need for competence or task execution.

Work to understand the organization’s needs and then correlate those needs back to your own values, through independent research first.

Then during conversation ask questions like these about how the organization is embodying those identified values and your values.   

 - If you value belonging, what do you do if someone is harassing someone else?

 - If you value psychological safety, how do you have difficult conversations with an employee who is creating a toxic work culture

  - How do you hold people accountable for their behavior around your values?

  - How do you create inclusive work cultures to create and foster the safety of the Black, Indigenous and other people of color on your teams? 

(Note - ArcVida recommends including these questions in your research conversations – before the interview (module 7), rather than waiting for an interview to ask these questions.)

If answers are fumbled or non-sensical in response to this kind of question, that’s your answer.  Be honest in that conversation if you don’t hear what you need to hear. Don’t set yourself up for a bad work situation by not responding and analyzing answers to important questions. Note that it's important to ask these questions live, not via email, so you can see body language like fidgeting, or looking away. You’ll also see how people respond when they show up with authenticity and vulnerability.

When you’re evaluating a company for inclusivity, what are some things you look for?

Look for language that resonates with you.  Think about the two kinds of thinking: left hemisphere – problem-solving, measuring and comparing and right hemisphere – feeling, needs, listening to feedback.  Notice where the language aligns and look for more relational language.  Is the language on a website speaking from a place of fear? For example,  “Are you sure you want to do this? This might be bad for you!” Evaluate language for a scarcity mindset versus abundancy mindset and for a growth mindset versus fixed mindset.  

What can leaders of existing teams do to create inclusivity?

Tiny words and actions things make such a huge difference!   Understand this and know that if you don’t know how to self-regulate, then you are on a direct path to anxiety.  Accordingly prioritize your own well-being.  You are not robots; you are human. 

Step 1.  Breath.

Your team picks up on this and understands that the leader is leading with your breathing.  Controlling your breath controls the dynamic intention in the meeting.  Create an understanding and connection through slowing things down and breathing.

Step 2.  Approach meetings and conversations focused on the relationships.
If you only come from a problem-solving stance, you will create stress and anxiety in your team.  

Step 3.  Appreciate and Recognize 
Appreciations statements should sound like:  "I  appreciate your personal values of __________,  who you are and what you bring to the team in this situation."    Recognition statements are  acknowledging the behavior and actions that created great work results and sound like,  “Thank you so much for doing___________________(this action) and ______________ (2nd action) for this project."  Appreciation with recognition encourages people to bring their whole selves to work AND enables high-performing teams.

How should a leader respond to a complaint or concerns to support inclusivity?

Step 1. Recognize that the person came to you, recognize their concern, and recognize their truth.

Step 2. Reward them by appreciating their honesty, appreciating that they had the courage to share.

Step 3.  Ask them for ideas on solving concerns together.

Step 4. Offer to talk to an offending colleague about their concerning behavior.

 Step 5.  Ask/offer the person with the concern what they need:  more downtime to recover emotionally, or extra support.  If appropriate, offer encouragement to find therapeutic support externally. Recommend external support/resources proactively.

What can we do when we see exclusionary behaviors in a work team?

Operate with tactical empathy – express what’s not going well from a relationship statement.  Bring up concerns to leaders in this way:

"I am noticing this behavior ________________________.   I’m concerned that the impact of this may be ___________________ .  I’m curious why that is _____________"

 If a leader is a bully or doesn’t want to hear feedback, then you’re dealing with an exclusionary leader. Do you have an HR connection you can go to?

If HR can’t support you, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate your time at the company.

Use this phrase when you're talking with a leader who may not be interested in focusing on exclusionary behavior.   “Every single time you ridicule, dismiss, interrupt or humiliate someone in any way, you are shutting down the parts of their brain that make you money.”


Additional Resources:

 Exclusion and trauma are impacting the workforce. Here’s how to fix it and heal  - article by Rajkumari Neogi

Free "Belonging Bootcamp - hosted by Rajkumari Neogi 

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended on It - recommended book

 Your Resonant Self  - recommended book

5 Strategies to Fix a Toxic Workplace - article by Rajkumari Neogi

About Rajkumari Neogy

Rajkumari Neogy is the creator of the iRestart framework, the Disruptive Diversity Boot Camp and the author of The WIT Factor: Shifting the Workplace Paradigm by Becoming Your Optimal Self. S/He is fascinated by team culture, especially in the tech arena and believes that every individual brings a superpower that often isn’t fully unlocked. S/He provides expertise in team culture cohesion, disruptive diversity & inclusion, and organizational epigenetics. Over the last 20 years, s/he has worked with organizations worldwide, including Slack, Hellosign, Salesforce, Gainsight, Twilio,  Ever AI, Trumaker, Walt Disney Animation Studios, HopSkipDrive, Wells Fargo, Shuddle, Cisco Systems, Facebook, and Amazon. In 2013 she founded iRestart to address issues of team dysfunction, imposter syndrome, and feelings of exclusion

An epigenetic and executive coach to some of the world’s largest technology companies, Executive Coach Rajkumai Neogy has dedicated her career to understanding the biology of belonging and the toxic, pervasive effects of exclusion in the workplace. For leaders, job seekers and employers, inclusion and belonging is the next stage in creating positive, anti-racist work environments where we can all thrive and contribute. 

About ArcVida

ArcVida provides personalized, technology-enabled career guidance with full support to make your next, optimal career move. Our technology platform is available when and where you are. We deliver proprietary services via our own web application, private social network, and online meetings. You'll join a coach-led group of other U.S. job seekers to identify, find and make your next right professional transition. If you're ready for support, schedule your free strategy call to share your situation today.



Published on 10/7/2020