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How to Foster Collaboration in a Diverse Team
“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common . . . Celebrate it every day.” — Sir Winston Churchill
Diversity should be one of the strengths of your organization. A diverse workforce can lead to increased creativity, better company reputation, a larger pool of skills, and increased profitability. However, workforce diversity also poses challenges.
Diversity is strength, resilience, and creativity.
It is your duty as an intelligent leader to foster cooperation within your diverse workforce, and to promote diversity, overcoming the challenges it presents.
Leading by example is always a constructive way of approaching issues such as workforce diversity, but in this instance, there is much more you can and should do.
According to 2007 study by professors David Harrison and Katherine Klein, employee diversity entails three aspects intelligent leaders need to address appropriately.
- Variety is responsible for most of the positive outcomes of diversity. It improves decision-making by providing a massive selection of informational resources. It boosts creativity and resilience through creative problem-solving.
- Separation, on the other hand, isolates groups of employees based on their dissimilarities. It increases competition between groups, stunting cooperation and limiting creativity.
- Disparity also limits cooperation, leading to tribalization based on organizational status, income, etc.
As a leader, you should aim to promote variety while countering separation and disparity. How do you achieve that?
Focus on Employee Training
Leadership development is the responsibility of your organization. Employee training should also be one of its top priorities, right down to the level of the individual. Leaders should, therefore, clearly define this objective and assume full responsibility for pursuing it. The resources and the environment conducive to personal growth and development are the responsibilities of management.
Just as your leadership development focuses on certain leadership skills, your employee development programs should aim to facilitate healthy relationship-building and the creation of a community spirit predicated upon psychological ownership.
You can encourage communication and interaction across cultural and generational divides through leisure activities and community involvement.
Communicate the Benefits of Diversity
An inclusive leader is genuinely committed to the promotion of diversity, to the point of making it a personal priority.
He or she also actively educates and trains employees and managers about what a diverse working environment is.
Fostering cooperation within a diverse team should be your priority.
Undergoing diversity training makes managers more effective and capable of evaluating employees. Diversity training can also improve employee satisfaction and retention. A focus on diversity will eventually result in employees developing a strong sense of ownership and thus becoming more loyal to the organization.
Involve and Empower
Seeking input and feedback from employees in the hiring process involves them in the innermost workings of the organization, thus encouraging psychological ownership. Delegating decision-making also empowers individuals and helps build self-esteem.
Partnering with schools to foster new talent and promote the culture of your organization gives you an early opportunity to stress the importance of diversity and instill the value of cooperation within a diverse environment in your future employees.
Promote Inter-generational Communication
Within a diverse workforce, though, cracks can appear on many different levels, allowing separation and disparity to poison cooperation. Generational divides are often the most difficult to bridge.
To help facilitate good inter-generational communication, focus on participation and informality and do not shy away from employing modern technology to bring your boomers together with your generation X, Y, and Zers.
Mentoring is a great way to bring together different generations. Create an environment within your organization that is conducive to cross-generational mentoring opportunities.
Make Your Commitment Visible
Inclusive leaders are not afraid to challenge the status quo, reiterating their full commitment to diversity at every opportunity. Since proper diversity management is everyone’s business, such leaders are not afraid to hold others accountable as well.
Make it a point to celebrate diversity-focused events such as International Women’s Day, the International Day to End Racism, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, and others.
The potential benefits of workforce diversity for your organization are numerous and far-reaching. It is up to you to bring these benefits to fruition through your leadership skills and attitude.
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