KissTheFrogNOW grid for team diversity
The concept of team diversity refers to the differences between individual team members such as:
- Education (functional/professional background)
In the last couple of years, many companies highlighted the importance of heterogeneous teams for a successful performance. We would agree that team diversity backgrounds will bring different points of view and solutions to the table and lead to enhanced team development.
Harvard Business Review claims that team diversity solve problems faster than homogeneous teams (those consisting of cognitively similar individuals).
Nowadays, more and more HR managers responsible for the direct recruitment and hiring processes aim to attract diverse talents because they believe that this will bring more opportunities and open new horizons.
How hard is it to create synergy among the team members? Of course, it is more comfortable to work with people who look, think, and speak just like you. But sometimes, that comfort leaves out an essential ingredient to a successful team – diversity.
Why does team diversity matter?
Breeding creativity and innovation
Homogeneous teams composed of similar team members easily fall into the ‘over confirmation’ trap known as the groupthink syndrome. Individuals prefer to conform with the rest of the group to avoid conflict or challenges, and they tend to take lower-quality decisions or reject riskier ideas and proposals.
In contrast, diverse teams are naturally competitive. Professionals bring different perspectives and experiences and learn to position their ideas, building solid arguments, providing evidence and results. Bringing together people with varying views on the same issue will more likely get you to a melting pot of fresh ideas, boosting innovation and new creations.
This type of environment allows for more out-of-the-box thinking, and you will encourage the uptake of new challenges and opportunities. A study by Boston Consulting Group, looking at 1,700 companies in 8 countries, found that organisations with diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues from innovative projects.
Knowing that the innovative mindset and creative works are among the most powerful intangible assets within a team or company today’s fast-changing environment. You, as a manager and a leader, should foster and encourage that kind of behaviour.
Age is not a measure of success.
Do you know why Google’s team failed on their first pitches in front of investors? Because their team was composed of college guys. Many potential investors rejected their idea only because they were not specialists with years of industry experience and knowledge. This short story is an example of how you should not judge by age, and more importantly – age should not be a barrier to success.
Experts of different ages within your team increase the chances of creative workflow and innovation. Young people have the so-called “fresh mindset” without the heavy cognitive and experiential baggage that more experienced senior team members tend to have.
When you combine the fresh talents seeking risky and challenging opportunities with the more experienced and traditional experts, both sides will benefit from mutually beneficial relationships.
However, sometimes the more experienced or, the younger talent is not eager to accept the other person’s perspectives because they are different. In most cases, this is due to a lack of inclusion and trust. But the lack of inclusion and trust is an outcome of a lack of communication and a chance to collaborate.
Whether you are a team manager or a department one, you need to try various team-building activities. Put a few of them together to create a team-building session for your team. Experiment with different setups and transform them into a recurring initiative. Get KissTheFrogNOW with you and set the collaborative bridge between the younger hire and the experienced senior member.
Communication and bonding are crucial elements that allow you to know your colleagues and acknowledge each other for your skills and competencies. Understanding who “as a talent” is sitting in front of you will develop loyalty in future shared projects.
‘Communication fosters team development and reduces the natural biases such as to judge by the age of a person.’
Check out this set of 9 Friday Games. Use it in your team building sessions to unite teammates and overcome internal differences in the team.
KissTheFrogNOW Tip: You can introduce this team building set of activities as a 2-3 month program, with a frequency of performance = every 2-3 weeks.
Gender equality is among the top priorities in team diversity
A 2018 McKinsey & Co survey across 1000 companies in 12 countries found that organisations in the top quartile for gender diversity were 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability. Meanwhile, ethical and cultural diversity resulted in a 33% increase in performance.
Why are profitability and team diversity so deeply connected? Diverse members will bring team diversity solutions to the table, therefore more results and well-informed proposals.
Heterogeneous teams are better at problem-solving, and making decisions generates a competitive advantage, creating revenue for the company.
You should not forget that the most critical asset of a company is its people – human resources could be the competitive advantage of a company. Having and nurturing more than one competitive advantage from different people will increase performance and return on investments.
Culture and language
When big companies wanted to go global in the past, they formed separated Strategic Business Units (SBUs) that took care of the specific country where the company wanted to position its products and/or services. Also, they always strived to recruit at least a few local experts from the country who will lead the team.
Why did almost all the big successful companies with global strategies proceed like that? Because they realised that without a local expert who knew the culture, the language, the legal framework, the history, and the customers’ preferences, they would have never succeeded in that country because they did not know the country’s specificity and buyers.
Whether you are a manager in a big company with many structural departments and teams or a manager in a small or medium enterprise, you will benefit from having people familiar with different cultures and cultures and friendly with other languages. You will reduce the need to seek external experts or local people because your team diversity may have all the answers to your specific questions.
Education diversification in your team
The functional background of your teammates
Imagine your team wants to create an innovative software or a platform that will optimise your company’s operations and bring value to its innovation agenda. If all the team members have pure technical backgrounds and competencies, who will market and advertise this new asset? Who is going to calculate the results and improvements with statistical formulas and templates?
You need people from diverse educational and professional backgrounds to fill all the competencies gaps. If we take our example above, your team will consist of a software engineer, IT specialist, marketing agent, statistics professional, and a person with experience in the target customer industry.
Once you create and manage this team properly, you won’t need any external help – all of the competent people will be in your group. For this reason, you need to seek diverse talents, and once you gather them together, you need to promote mutual inclusion and shared vision – to establish functional team relationships.
The level of education of your teammates
How many times in the job description have you seen a requirement for a certain level of qualification? And, can you guess what part of these positions can be successfully taken by a person who does not meet this requirement.
To diversify your team, look at both sides of the coin:
- By requiring unnecessary qualifications, you exclude people who may be ideal for the job. Therefore, you make your workforce more homogeneous and less diverse.
- If the qualification is needed, of course, you can request it. This will add more advanced experts who can help others in their development in the same area.
Tip: Instead of requiring higher education, identify the skills the position requires and list them. In today’s fast-paced world, many of the qualifications can be developed through courses.
Eliminating education requirements does not lower your standards quickly. You will focus more specifically on the soft and hard skills you need and give a chance to people who have failed to continue their formal education but who may be the ideal new members for your team.
Factors influencing the level of education:
- Geographical location
- Ethnicity and religion
- National, state and county laws and requirements
- Privilege (a social force that can be inhibited or combined based on gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, age, marital status, socioeconomic status, social role, cultural background and disability status.)
How to manage diverse teams?
Make recruitment & hiring procedures in favour of team diversity
The culture of a company is something that is being developed throughout the whole existence of a company. Many times, managers use the term “culture fit” when seeking applicants. HR managers often seek a candidate that will “fit” well with the company’s culture or a specific team. It is said that having similar cultures and values will support the creation of a shared vision. However, today, recruiters seek the exact opposite – different cultures to create team diversity and reduce biases.
As the business environment is becoming more and more uncertain, culture is becoming even harder to define and measure. Hence, “culture fit” is a squishy benchmark for recruiting and hiring decisions.
On the applicants’ side, a recent Glassdoor survey found that 76% of job seekers say that team diversity is an essential factor when considering companies and job offers. Also, a 2018 Deloitte survey discovered that 69% of current employees who believe that their teams are diverse see the workplace as more motivating and stimulating. Therefore, team diversity not only keeps your best members around but also helps to attract new fresh talents.
In a diverse team, the biggest challenge is engaging everyone and achieving mutual inclusion and trust. Teams that are focused on team diversity and inclusion tend to deliver the highest levels of engagement.
Acknowledgement and engagement are significant variables, part of the productivity equation. When team members feel accepted and valued, you empower them, make them happier and more motivated to share vision, goals and work collaboratively. The more motivated and satisfied, the more productive and easier to retain they are. Companies with greater team diversity have lower turnover rates which mean reduced costs from additional recruitment and training.
Communication comes before engagement because it fosters this acceptance and acknowledgement. Think about the moments when your team members are engaged in a project or a small task. What type of behaviour can you remember coming up:
- A lot of talking
Strive for team inclusion
Verna Meyers – a diversity and inclusion expert, shares: “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” Once you manage to create a diverse team of different talents, you need to keep in mind that to be a successful one, you need to:
- Foster transparent communication with team-building activities.
- Encourage team bonding events and participation.
- Support friendly collaboration with regular and solid feedback from all team members.
- Let them share their perspectives and listen.
- Lead by example – as a manager, shows constructive criticism and acknowledgement.
- Organise team development games and let everyone work with the others.
Once people in your team get to know each other, the bonding and communication processes will nurture everything that follows. The natural biases and prejudices will reduce, and people will start seeing their colleague’s talent, competencies, and knowledge, rather than their age, culture, race, etc.
Once everybody feels accepted and not judged, they will feel a sense of belonging, engagement and afterwards will become more motivated and satisfied with their team and work.
Sustain team diversity in your corporate culture
Diverse teams could be very beneficial for the overall performance of your company. However, it is not to say that homogeneous teams could not be successful. Depending on your team’s strategy, you should hire more similar team members or form diverse groups.
For example, suppose you can implement an exponential strategy to achieve a particular objective quickly as a first mover. In that case, it is better to hire more homogeneous teams. You would reduce time in creating the synergy between team members, and it will be easier for them to stick together and perform the work immediately.
Suppose your objectives are somewhat challenging and require different perspectives and expertise. In that case, it is for sure to look for a diverse group of members who can contribute to the overall goal by their competitive advantage.
In summary, diverse team management is a complex process, requiring a lot of effort and time. You need to get to the forefront of every team member’s best characteristics, combine them with the others, and build that synergy among everyone.
- Increase creativity & innovation.
- Solve problems better.
- Have more informed decision-making processes
- Increased Profits (the McKinsey & Co survey)
- Lead to higher employee engagement, then increased motivation and satisfaction.
- Better reputation & higher chances to recruit talents for whom team diversity today is essential.
- Reduce costs for external experts and providers.
Keep it going and improve it by regular team building and developing activities to form a team consisting of members who know each other, accept and admire each other’s skills and competencies, and exist based on mutual trust. Regular team-building exercises would positively contribute to:
- Recruitment & Hiring processes in favour of team diversity;
- Communication between team members;
- Team bonding;
- Collaboration in both personal & professional life;
- Engagement and unstoppable inclusion activities.