Take the First Steps to Create a Judgment-Free Environment for Your Team
June 14, 2021
What’s your favorite part about your team? Hopefully, a lot of answers come to mind given the amount of time we all spend working!
While it’s hard for me to pick just one thing, I find myself incredibly appreciative of the judgment-free environment we have at Emergenetics®. I love that my team has the space to be ourselves, suggest unique – sometimes zany – ideas and own up to challenges, and that we’re respected for it.
There’s value in that approach as a recent blog by Seth Godin highlights:
“In human beings, tolerance creates resilience. Tolerance of different abilities and preferences makes it easy to work with diversity of thought and approach and expertise, enabling better outcomes.
Tolerance doesn’t mean permitting behavior that undermines the community. In fact, it requires that we put the community first. Instead, it’s a willingness to focus on contribution instead of compliance.”
During such an unprecedented time when many of us are feeling stressed and under pressure, having a leader that appreciates you for who you are and the contributions you make is incredibly motivating. It can also be a source of differentiation for your organization.
Tolerance and respect help teams build trust, which leads to higher productivity, greater energy at work and better performance. By honoring different insights, you can enhance feelings of inclusion and promote innovation, something that is desperately needed in these changing times.
While it may be clear why we need tolerant spaces, the how can be challenging. Quick judgments help us move more quickly, and time always seems to be in short supply. It also can take effort to get in the habit of pausing, reframing assumptions and refocusing on effort and contribution.
If you want your team to be successful today and into the future, it’s worth going slow to go fast. By finding ways to help your team grow not only more tolerant of different approaches – and also appreciative of them – your employees will feel more supported and better able to bring their best to work.
10 Tips to Build a More Tolerant Team Culture
Changing mindsets to promote a culture of acceptance will not happen overnight. As a leader, you can take the first steps by applying 10 practices.
#1 – Be Curious
Judgments usually stem from a lack of understanding or from individuals making assumptions about the actions or motivations of others. Rather than creating an inaccurate story, encourage your team to ask questions to gain clarity and understanding.
#2 – Ask for Ideas and Inputs
When presenting information, actively solicit input from staff. Encourage them to share any apprehensions or recommendations. Then, make time to discuss, address concerns or identify adjustments. Doing so will demonstrate your appreciation for differing opinions and model the way for your team.
#3 – Make Listening a Team Norm
In addition to asking for ideas and seeking clarity, promote active listening. By allowing space for staff to hear from one another and truly understand each other’s ideas, goals and thoughts, you can create a more accepting environment.
#4 – Honor Diversity
Encourage appreciation by actively celebrating differences. A first step could be to use assessments and programs like those available at Emergenetics to honor the different thinking and behavioral preferences on your team. You may also encourage employees to actively seek the input of people who have different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences when making decisions.
#5 – Encourage Self Reflection
Reflection allows individuals to think through workplace experiences, consider their actions and explore motivations, assumptions or biases that may have impacted their approach. It can also provide space to reframe pre-conceived notions or reflect on ways to improve their approach in the future.
#6 – Focus on Growth in Problem Solving
When an issue presents itself, treat it as a chance to improve, not to assign blame. By promoting learning, you can foster an environment where teammates feel comfortable voicing worries, staying accountable to mistakes and seeking solutions – not judgment – when things veer off course.
#7 – Celebrate Constructive Failure
Take #6 a step further by celebrating the learning that comes from mistakes. One of my colleagues asks her team to share failures each month and recognize the learnings that came from them. In doing so, she’s been able to build a culture that reframes mistakes as opportunities.
#8 – Don’t Forget to Have Fun
While it may be an active time at work, it’s important for team members to get to know one another. Try adding check-in questions into your meetings and make time for staff to socialize. By giving employees space to connect on a personal level, they are more likely to appreciate each other.
#9 – Assume Positive Intent
When work gets tough, we may unfairly project negativity onto a situation or person. When your team embraces a mindset of positive intent and assumes that people are trying their best, judgments are replaced with a desire to understand differing perspectives and approaches.
#10 – Stop Judging Yourself
We are our own worse critics. When you give yourself the benefit of the doubt and recognize deficiencies as opportunities to improve, you will likely inspire the same actions from your colleagues and team members.
While it will take time to promote a culture of tolerance and acceptance, it will also help you and your team to be more productive, efficient and satisfied. And if you remember nothing else from this post, I encourage you to start with #10 – stop judging yourself. We can all use a little more empathy these days, and when you begin by giving yourself grace, the rest of the tips become much easier to do.
Source: Emergenetics International