How to Build High-Performing Diverse Teams at Work
Building a high-performing diverse team is one of the most important goals of most organizations today. Even job seekers are considering diversity before accepting job offers. In fact, a Glassdoor survey shows that 67 percent of job seekers are targeting companies that have a diverse workforce. Building a high-performing diverse team requires more than just bringing random individuals together and assigning tasks to them. Instead, it involves planning and a well thought out approach. Here are steps to help you build high-performing diverse teams.
1. Understand and Deal with all Aspects of Diversity
What does diversity mean to you? Perhaps what comes to your mind is gender, religion, or even race. And that’s completely okay. But personality, disability, language, sexual orientation, and age are also important aspects of diversity. There’s also a difference in the way we think (acquired diversity), we acquire it through experience. This type of diversity matters as well.
Keep in mind that diversity can cause conflicts among your employees, so you’ve to implement the right conflict management measures. You also need to come up with a clear diversity vision for your organization. Above all, build a more inclusive culture by putting a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination in place and constructing a favorable work environment for team members with physical disabilities.
2. Redefine Your Recruiting Strategy
Deciding to make inclusivity and diversity part of your company’s culture is a huge leap in the right direction. But you need to attract a more diverse staff for your efforts to pay off. You can start by revising your recruiting strategy.
· Cultivate networks and relationships with different professional associations. These associations must have a membership that consists of underrepresented talent such as women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, and so forth.
· Make diversity metrics part of your organizational culture: For instance, you can focus on increasing the percentage of new talent that originates from underrepresented groups.
· Use gender-inclusive language in your job postings. Avoid words like “dominate” and “ambitious.” Female applicants find such type of words less appealing.
· Implement attractive workplace policies. Employees want to attain a work-life balance. By adopting flexible work policies, you can help your employees achieve the much-needed balance between work and life.
· Cast your net far and wide. Don’t just depend on the same hiring channels. Instead, expand your candidate pool by using online job boards, tapping talents from community colleges, and providing relocation packages.
· Use technology. Conduct phone screenings and leverage diversity recruitment software to pick out applicants based on their competencies.
· Include individuals with different backgrounds in your interview panel: Involve team members with different educational qualifications, gender expression, sexual orientation, and social-economic standing in the interview process to strike a perfect balance.
3. Respect and Celebrate Workforce Differences
Create a work environment where employee differences are respected and celebrated. The best way to achieve this is by organizing diversity awareness workshops and events. You can also schedule monthly team meetings where team members can engage in open and candid discussions about diversity. You can also offer employees opportunities to showcase their cultures and traditions by hosting cultural events at least twice a year.
4. Listen to Your Employees
The ability to listen to your employees is one of the most crucial skills you should have as a business leader. Failure to listen to your employees will make them feel undermined, unwanted, and dismissed. Paying attention to their experience will help you identify and meet their needs. What’s more, listening to your team helps you build a diverse and collaborative culture. There are some simple steps you can take to make your team members feel wanted and respected. It could be chatting with them during breaks or adopting an open-door policy. It could also be hosting town hall meetings where the voice of every team member is heard and respected.
5. Create Effective Knowledge-Sharing Spaces
The wealth of knowledge and skills that your team possesses is one of your company’s most valuable resources. Encouraging the sharing of that knowledge among team members and creating effective spaces for them will not only improve your team performance but also expand the intellectual wealth of the entire company. Setting up effective knowledge-sharing spaces can be as simple as reserving a conference room space. It can also involve setting up an online space where remote team members can engage in knowledge sharing activities. Ensure seamless collaboration and knowledge sharing by investing in premium programs for extracting and opening zip files.
6. Create Opportunities for Leadership Development
Use various professional development tools like mentoring, training, and ongoing education opportunities. Regularly review your leadership development pipeline to ensure there’s diversity. Another way to create leadership development opportunities is by sponsoring your team to participate in industry conferences and professional networking events. This enables them to not just acquire insightful information or skills but also to add new connections to their network.
7. Make Your Employees Feel Valued
If you’re not careful, your team members may feel that your efforts to develop high-performing diverse teams in the workplace are just a publicity stunt. So, it’s important to approach diversity and inclusion with extra caution and ensure employees always feel treasured. Here are a few tips to help you with that.
· Implement your employee recognition program across all departments and ranks equally. Ensure recognition is both regular and inclusive. The recognition program should foster equality among all employees and create a sense of belongingness.
· Streamline the process of sending and receiving recognition. Everyone in the company should be in a position to send and receive recognition with ease. A strong culture of recognition cultivates a feeling of togetherness and connection within an organization.
· Apply the same set of standards to appraise and reward employee performance. Collect as much data as possible to support any merit-based reward. Take advantage of the latest tracking technology like time tracking software to measure the productivity of each employee.
8. Sharpen Your Leadership Skills
Leadership skills are an important part of building high-performing diverse teams at work. Learn how to show empathy, communicate effectively, and respect your team members. Set an example of integrity to your employees. Be straightforward and open with them. Gain their trust by doing what you promise and treating others with respect and compassion. Pay attention to the challenges that your workers face at work and try to come up with lasting solutions.
9. Enhance Your Cultural Competence
Cross-cultural communication is an essential office skill that you should continuously develop even as you’re building diverse teams. This skill will help you know how to engage and interact professionally with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. In-depth knowledge of different cultures and perceptions will help you boost communication and prevent misunderstandings.
Make an effort of enlightening yourself – study different cultural customs and attitudes toward work, and stay updated on important international events as well as global politics. Set aside time to interact and build professional relationships with your team members from different backgrounds and countries. Take advantage of travel opportunities that come your way, particularly those that will enable you to visit a team or workplace abroad.
10. Ensure Everyone Understands the Benefits of Diversity
Integrate diversity into your core organizational values and leverage traditional communication methods like brochures, posters, and direct emails to clearly stress the value of diversity at work. Encourage ongoing discussions at different levels of the company on the benefits of having diverse teams at work. Ensure there is an open atmosphere where employees can express themselves and share their ideas without fear. This kind of open atmosphere results in different perspectives that can eliminate biases and generate rich debates.
11. Create High-quality Training Modules on Diversity
Come up with well-structured and comprehensible training modules on diversity. Involve professionals on the subject matter in the process of creating these training modules. Then, host diversity training workshops at least twice a year. You can even invite thought leaders on the topic to share their viewpoints regarding the subject matter with your team members.
12. Acknowledge and Accommodate Multiple Generations
Recognizing and accommodating multiple generations is instrumental in developing high-performing diverse teams. Millennials are the bigger majority in most teams. And although millennials are recognized for having high expertise with tech tools, remember this generation constitutes ages 22 to 38.
The older ones might not be as tech-savvy as their younger counterparts. For instance, younger generations may prefer to use social channels for all their communication while older generations may take time before adopting such communications channels fully. So, it’s advisable to have in place a communications platform that allows you to craft and send messages effortlessly through channels that your team members prefer. That way, you’ll easily create messages that suit the needs of all generations and promote engagement.
13. Address the Needs and Preferences of Everyone at Events
Other than holiday parties, there are other events that your company celebrates. Birthdays, anniversaries, thanksgiving, and Halloween are examples of such events. When you’re hosting such events, ensure to serve food and drinks that everyone will enjoy. For example, ensure both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are included.
Bear in mind that some people don’t prefer to celebrate birthdays, so talk to your employee before throwing a surprise birthday party for them. Ensure employees are aware that casual events like birthdays or anniversaries are optional. This will be a great relief for shy team members who would rather stay at home than attend a company-sponsored happy hour.
Building a high-performing diverse team is about appreciating the unique differences that exist in every person. It’s also about understanding that the best talent knows no religion, race, gender, personality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or social-economic status. Redefining your recruiting strategy, celebrating employee differences, listening to your employees, and setting up effective knowledge-sharing spaces are some of the practical ways to build high-functioning diverse teams in your workplace.
Sam McRyan is a business analyst providing top-notch analytical and resource management advice to small and midsize companies. With a sharp acumen and a logical mind that easily grasps new business concepts, Sam is known for his ability to complete deliverables ahead of schedule and thoroughly. He got his start in business analysis at a young age, helping with his uncle’s small community store.