Remember the good ol’ days when you could walk into your office, smell the aroma of brewed coffee, and get lost in the chatter of your teammates? Ah, that feeling of belonging was like the extra cheese on a pizza; you didn’t know you needed it until it was gone.

Today, that workplace vibe has transformed into a series of Zoom meetings, Slack channels, and an eternal longing for the “mute” button. Sure, you still have teammates, but they exist as tiny boxes on a screen. So, let’s tackle the elephant in the remote room: how do you create a sense of belonging when everyone’s dispersed?

There are a couple of shifts that most companies aren’t addressing:

1. The Shift in Belonging

In the past, you’d say, “I love my company.” What you meant was, “I love the people I work with.” Now, the company feels more like an abstract entity than a warm hug. Employees need to feel connected not just to the mission but also to their personal life goals and success.

2. The Shift from Having to Being (& Who We Want to Become)

We’re all wired to chase goals—be it a new car, a promotion, or the glorious feeling of crushing that pint of turtle crunch ice cream. But what about the intangibles? The qualities like resilience, compassion, and self-discipline that shape who we are?

The question is: Can you still find a sense of belonging when the nearest coworker is a click away? And more critically, how does this setup help you become the person you want to be?

Tips for Leaders to Ignite Belonging and Becoming

  1. Personalize Work Goals: While it’s essential to understand the financial or material goals of each team member, delve into their desired attributes, too. Maybe Julia wants to be more resilient; well, give her projects that stretch her limits. Maybe Jose wants to become more confident; give him tasks that will stretch his talents and provide opportunities to prove himself to himself.
  2. Common Goals, Diverse Journeys: Align team projects with both individual material wants and the attributes they’re keen to develop. That way, you’re not just cutting checks; you’re cutting personal development paths.
  3. Virtual Bonding, Real Growth: Host casual weekly “Coffee and Qualities” chats (or Brews & Virtues” We won’t judge). Team members can share not only their weekend plans but also the attributes they’re working on, from patience to perseverance, from inspiring to intentional.
  4. Attribute of the Month Club: Dedicate a month to a particular attribute or quality. Like, ‘Mindfulness May’ could follow ‘Innovation April.’ ‘Optimistic October’ could follow ‘Self-Aware September.’ Discuss how work tasks can help nurture these qualities and personal growth.
  5. Balance Feedback: During performance evaluations, celebrate both task outcomes and personal growth. So it’s not just “Great job on the project, Sarah!” but also “The growth in your ability to manage stress was really evident.
  6. The Legacy Loop: Invite your team to share how they want to be remembered. It’s not a morbid exercise; it’s a guiding light. Knowing you want to be “Sally, the Compassionate Leader” or “Terry, the Task Master” will shape your daily interactions.
  7. Connect the Dots: Help each team member see how their role doesn’t just contribute to the company but also to their journey of becoming who they want to be.

A Final Sprinkle of Wisdom

I can’t promise this will bring back the office coffee, but it’ll go a long way in brewing a strong sense of belonging and well-being, one virtual cup at a time.

Remember: your team’s not just a bunch of remote workers. They’re the human hearts that pump life into your team and company.

So, there you have it, folks! It’s not just about the grind; it’s about the growth. Go sprinkle some attribute magic in your team’s coffee (or iced tea. Again, we don’t judge) and elevate from doing to being and belonging. 🌟

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