Collaboration Isn’t Always Easy
Recruiting professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds has the potential to introduce valuable insights and perspectives into an organization. However, achieving cohesion and collaboration between team members within a diverse workforce may be more difficult due to the wide range of perspectives and opinions involved. Developing strategies to encourage collaboration within a diverse workforce is therefore vital for employers looking to take advantage of the benefits that inclusion and diversification can bring.
The 3 most popular strategies to encourage collaboration within a diverse workforce are:
- Company social events
- Mentoring programs
- Charity, community engagement or other non-work related projects such as Habitat for Humanity where staff from different backgrounds are given the opportunity to work together
In a recent survey, 34% of Fortune 500 companies provide managers with diversity sensitivity/cultural competence training to promote better collaboration between employees and teams. Here are insightful strategies used by senior executives to consider, to ensure a sense of inclusive collaboration within the workforce:
- Providing managers with training on how inclusion benefits the business
- Monitoring how much time is spent discussing diversity at the management level
- Practicing transparent decision making regarding recruitment and promotion
- Surveying staff to see if they feel able to contribute to the business
- Providing feedback opportunities to all staff across all levels of seniority
Does your organization employ some or all of these strategies? If so, you likely have respect for everyone’s opinion and ideas and as a result, strong collaboration.
Inclusive Collaboration & Disruptive Innovation
Disruptive innovation occurs when an entirely new category is created – a new business platform with multiple new products and services; a mobile phone, instead of a home phone; and electric vehicles that eliminate reliance on gas and turn toward automotive electrification.
Diversity is an intellect multiplier, but only when diverse groups can collaborate. We need a common language that helps diverse groups come together and collaborate. We need an inclusive environment that fosters diverse perspectives without judgment.
When all employees are emotionally engaged, team spirit will be stronger. Everyone knows that they are a key link in the chain and that their skills, expertise, and opinions are equally valued and respected.
You can improve your company’s performance and success by learning how to work together better. Just like the New England Patriots in last month’s Super Bowl, your staff is more than the sum of its parts. A well-balanced skillset, together with a smart division of tasks, is the basis of a winning strategy. The key is to provide your teams with a stimulating environment, and you’ll all reap the benefits.
How to boost collaboration? Try improving internal communication to inspire staff to share, speak up, and give feedback. Managers and supervisors are the catalysts: they encourage employees to speak their minds, use their initiative, and work together. Everyone feels free to offer ideas to support the company and overall performance while respecting everyone else’s opinions and skills.
What can we do to build an inclusive culture of collaboration?
- Determine the values and behaviors you want to see in your team, and think about the incentives you will give in return.
- Communicate openly and often to the entire staff and/or collaborators. Communication doesn’t have to be face-to-face all the time (although that is important). You can also use email, social media or other internal channels of communication. The important thing is to communicate what’s happening throughout the company.
- Involve the whole team in interviewing candidates and onboarding new hires. Candidates will get a good feel for collaboration and teamwork from seeing the current behaviors of the group.
- Reinforce company history, and start a new tradition. Think about the one thing you could always do to welcome new team members. For example, taking and displaying a team picture showing the diversity, sharing a secret team handshake, celebrating colleagues’ backgrounds or personal lives – the possibilities are endless.
- Encourage personal connections. You can establish Employee Resources Groups to plan group events, meals, off-site meeting, etc. Even with a small budget, your team could plan experiences that help people get to know each other!
Finally, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to have a big team to embrace a culture of collaboration: you can always partner with other organizations and people with similar values. For example, I write this Blog to support and collaborate with others who are passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion; as a result, we feel like a bigger and better team!