4 Ways to Create an Inclusive and Supportive Culture

I recently attended the Lead Developer conference in London, a conference that helps new and long-term leaders grow into their role and find inspiration for improving their skills.

One topic that resonated with me was to do with the leaders’ role in creating the foundation for an environment where people can thrive and achieve their potential. I liked Alicia Liu‘s analogy with

“a gardener that creates the best environment for plants to flourish”.

How can you help your company to establish an inclusive and supportive culture? Here are my tips.


1.Don’t underestimate the power of asking stupid questions.

They say there are no dumb questions. I say there are, but that shouldn’t stop people asking them. In his article Ozan Varol says that questions are underrated in our society and that the stigma against dumb questions stifles creativity.

As leaders we should encourage our team to ask all sort of questions. Why? Questions help with stimulating creativity, gaining deeper insights, eliminating confusion, having better interactions, and much more.

We must find a way to get everyone involved says Clare Sudbery. By being confident and asking questions all the time we can support introverted team members to get more involved. It might also give our team a better idea of how each other’s heads work.


2. Remember that everyone is always learning.

Amongst the well-known knowledge sharing techniques discussed during the conference was pair programming. This is when two or more developers program on a shared computer together.

Done properly, this practice will help raise confidence and increase engagement and learning. Introducing this method to your team should be taken seriously and all the necessary cautionary steps taken to set them up for success.

Pairing allows people to ask questions about the whys and ifs, resulting in invaluable learning with the additional benefit of a better end product and a team with a deeper knowledge of it.

3. Make sure people have time to prepare.

I’m sure all of us have been invited at least once to a meeting without an agenda. How did you feel? When this happens to me, I don’t know how to prepare for the meeting, I was unsure on how I would contribute to it or even if it was a good use of my time.

Preparing an agenda ahead of anymeeting is extremely valuable for the team. It gives them the time to understand the specific issues to be discussed and to clarify the desired outcomes.

To ensure a more inclusive meeting, send the agenda out to give people ample time to prepare and add their own items to the discussion. This way you will give a chance even to the quietest team members to practice ahead of the meeting to feel more confident to speak.

4. Shut up!

People do their best work when they are inspired and recognised but they also need to be listened to.

During her talk, Alicia Liu remarks that “Great leadership is founded on humility, so make sure to listen”, and Clare Sudbery urges us to try shutting up every now and then to make room for questions. Wait for other people to talk and plan time ahead to answer your team’s questions.

Cultivating an environment where people’s curiosity is supported and nurtured empowers them to explore opportunities and ideas more openly, which makes learning and work itself a more fun place to be. A supportive and inclusive culture has many benefits but most of all it will lead to long-term employee satisfaction. I hope this helps you to grow the team culture you wish for.

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