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Your ability to effectively deploy the talents and skills at your disposal for the growth of the larger organization is vital. With it, you can serve customers more effectively and magnify your personal chances to deliver outstanding results, yet, it comes with mind-boggling challenges. As such, in The CEO Magazine (June 2021 Issue), I acknowledge that diversity can be 'problematic if not managed efficiently.' Further, 'problems are a sign of life,' and the relationship you have with problems is something that clients and employers pay for. It’s valuable if you can help them with their problems”.
Here, I want to briefly offer some proven tips for managers to effectively harness the power of diversity in their teams for heightened problem solving ability.
Positioning diversity to match company’s mission
How people view diversity in an organization matters. For example, does your company see diversity as merely a way of appeasing various social and cultural groups? On the contrary, positioning diversity and inclusion as requisites for real business growth has a huge positive impact on the organization. But truly, how can diversity be a business need?
You can discover new, better ways to serve your clients when diversity is viewed as a powerful decision making resource. Internally, you can build a stronger workforce culture by empowering employees to speak up and initiate the difficult conversations that bring about the best solutions. And in our business of engineering public infrastructure, lives are on the line if we don’t get this right.
Ignorance isn’t stupidity, and even the smartest people are ignorant of some things. On many fronts, managers and employees can be ignorant of the value of a diverse team for the variety of perspectives they bring. And remaining ignorant, doing nothing about it, can have a catastrophic effect on employees and ultimately, the company.
For example, there’s a psychological term called selective attention that I find quite interesting-- it’s where your brain will only allow you to see or hear things that support what you already believe, a/k/a your perspective. So, anytime we have any operational problems or internal challenges in delivering value to our clients and stakeholders, you can bet I want to ensure we have a diversity of perspectives.
With an arsenal of varied perspectives, a manager can soar above their existing beliefs to arrive at more creative and better solutions. Better decisions are why diversity is not just important--it's vital.
As a manager, how are you managing the struggles of diversity in your team? What challenges are you facing currently? Express them in the comments, and I won’t hesitate to offer my two cents.