How to manage a diverse team

manage a diverse team“Diversity is the art of thinking independently together.” – Malcolm Forbes

Diversity can make a business more innovative, creative and therefore more successful and sustainable. This is because it creates a culture in which people learn to think like and empathize with customers and partners from different walks of life.

Research confirms that diverse companies are more likely to outperform non-diverse companies. According to the Harvard Business Review, cognitively diverse teams solve problems faster than more homogeneous teams. A report by Deloitte found that employees’ ability to innovate increases by 83% when they think their organization is committed to diversity.

But these stories can make achieving ‘diversity’ seem much easier than it really is.

We all know that managing employees is difficult. It’s why managers often hire people like them – they instinctively know how manage them. Managing a team of people with different backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles is challenging.

How do managers build authentic relationships with people when they have nothing in common with them? How do they manage conflict between employees from vastly different backgrounds?

One of the most important attributes of managers in inclusive organizations is the ability to manage “cross culturally”. Sometimes these leaders come from mixed backgrounds, or have worked internationally, or already have experience working in or managing diverse teams. Other times they’re just leaders who are able to put their own awkwardness and inexperience aside because they want to learn more about and understand their team members.

These leaders know that diverse employees offer so much more than diversity target check boxes and are committed to getting the best from their teams.

Here are few tips for those who need to manage a diverse team:

  • When there’s a risk of being misunderstood, in-person conversations are much better than email.
  • Being clear and honest about goals and performance is vital.
  • They can never show favoritism.
  • They need to be approachable, so that people feel comfortable asking for clarity or help.
  • They will need to handle conflict at some point and prefer to deal with it sooner rather than later.
  • Diverse employees may need a little more guidance when it comes to understanding and integrating into workplace culture, for example through employee resource groups etc.

Manage a diverse team and build a truly inclusive workplace with vi

vi specializes in people-management technology. Our Diversity and Inclusion strategy tool plugs into your existing software, creating a beautiful, easy-to-use dashboard showing how your diversity efforts are progressing.

To learn more about our solutions, watch the explainer video below.

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