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Inside The Office Leadership Management

Harness the Power of Diverse Teams

A growing number of organizations and their leadership teams are acknowledging the importance of diversity and inclusion, and the impact such strategies can have on business performance. In fact, a Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation, demonstrating that diversity is an integral part of a successful revenue-generating business. Also, Gartner found that gender-diverse and inclusive frontline decision-making teams outperformed gender-homogenous, less-inclusive teams by 50% on average.

However, the value of diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace is shared equally, if not more, among job seekers and workers today. A 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey shows that 74% of these individuals believe their organization is more innovative when it has a culture of inclusion. In addition, diversity matters to job seekers—particularly millennials—and weighs heavily in their decisions to join a company. A recent study illustrated this very trend, finding 47% of millennials are actively looking for diversity and inclusion when sizing up potential employers.

This research and others continue to support the business case behind building diversity and inclusion into the organization, particularly in a time when continuous innovation is fundamental to business success. Yet, diversity in the business environment is about more than gender, race, and ethnicity. It is much broader, to include diverse religious and political beliefs, education, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientation, and different working styles.

Build diverse teams

We have worked with hundreds of organizations applying sophisticated talent assessment solutions to help create high-performing teams—at any level, from project teams to leadership teams—that harness the benefits of different thinking styles, behavioral styles and values of individuals. For example, effective team assessments and reports are able to capture the preferred behavioral styles of an entire team and deliver an all-encompassing representation of the team. By understanding everyone’s unique working styles, differences in decision-making and problem-solving approaches, business leaders are better equipped to build diverse and inclusive teams.

In addition, once a diverse team is assembled, utilizing team assessment solutions uncover the team’s strengths and discover opportunities for development that will lead to a realistic, concrete action plan for building a high-performance team that recognizes, understands and appreciates the different behavioral styles of each member. This creates greater team cohesiveness and delivers higher productivity and performance levels.

Develop inclusive behaviors

There are several fundamental methods to help ensure your diverse teams are performing like a well-oiled machine. Company leaders should consider adopting the following “best practices” of inclusive teams:

  • Establish a meaningful, inspiring mission or vision for the team to foster more engagement and a sense of shared investment. Driven by a common purpose, everyone will feel it is “their” mission, not anyone else’s.
  • Good communication is the foundation of any high-performing team. Conflicts often arise on teams because of differences in decision-making and problem-solving approaches. Ensure the team is equipped with the conflict-resolution and communication skills necessary to succeed.
  • Trust is critical to any cohesive team. The ability for team members to feel comfortable about taking interpersonal risks is fundamental to driving innovation and results.

Diversity achieves results

From all perspectives, diversity and inclusion is gaining more import in the workplace. It is clear a growing number of active and passive job seekers are evaluating employers’ diversity commitment as part of their job search. Furthermore, the dynamic nature of today’s business environment, the need for innovation, and competitive pressures are all fueling a demand for diverse and inclusive work groups that perform well together. On the other hand, less diverse or poorly managed teams can impede or even halt progress or lead to disengagement or decreased job satisfaction. Building a diverse team is one feat but getting them to work well together and effectively solve business challenges is the hard part.

About the author

Kathi Graham-Leviss

Kathi Graham-Leviss is the Founder and President of XBInsight, an innovative HR technology company that offers customized talent assessments and coaching. She is also the author of The Perfect Hire: A Tactical Guide to Hiring, Developing and Retaining Top Sales Talent, and High-Maintenance Employees: Why Your Best People Will Also Be Your Most Difficult and What You Can Do About It.

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