Gihan Perera is a business futurist, speaker, and author who works with business leaders to help them lead and succeed in an uncertain but exciting future. He’s also the author of Disruption By Design: Leading the change in a fast-changing world. In this guest post, Perera offers his tips on what a modern and effective team looks like…
There’s no doubt diversity and inclusion drive productivity, performance, and bottom-line results. According to research from the Diversity Council of Australia and Suncorp, employees in inclusive teams are more likely to innovate, more likely to be highly effective, more likely to stay, and more likely to be very satisfied with their job.
But leaders only get those results when they truly understand the dynamics of diverse teams. Ticking the diversity box won’t help you if you ignore inclusion – in other words, tapping into the diverse background, skills, talents, and behaviour of every team member.
Here are four ways for leaders to tap into the diversity of their people to build high-performance teams.
1. Share the Journey
The best people don’t just exchange their time for money. They want a place where they can say they’re proud to work, and where their work has meaning. They know what “we” stand for and value what we stand for.
This is especially important for diverse teams. When everybody is aligned with the team’s purpose and goals, they are far more likely to accept, tolerate, and even embrace each other’s differences.
This is the real secret to employee engagement. Instead of investing time, money, and energy in employee engagement programs, create a shared journey and your people are automatically engaged.
2. Make Flexible Work Work
The traditional office structure discourages diversity: Everybody works in the same place, for the same hours, in the same way. But in our connected world, many of the benefits of the traditional office don’t apply anymore, and the best people want – even demand – more flexibility. A 2018 Robert Half survey found almost half (47%) of Australian workers would be willing to accept a pay cut for more flexible working hours, and 40% would be willing to accept a pay cut to be able to work from home sometimes.
In diverse teams, people have different attitudes, cultural expectations, religious observations, parenting responsibilities, and so on. As a leader, you can’t be expected to know every nuance. But instead of trying to understand and accommodate every exception, stop thinking of them as exceptions. Assume flexible work is the rule, not the exception.
3. Measure Results, Not Processes
The traditional office environment subtly measures – and rewards – processes, time, and behaviour. We do notice who arrives late, leaves early, takes long lunch breaks, spends too much time on social media, waffles in meetings, and never buys anybody else a drink at the pub after work.
But these are all inputs into work. They sometimes correlate with results, but that’s not always the case – especially in diverse teams. If you keep measuring these things, you’re encouraging conformity, not embracing diversity.
A better value of somebody’s work is in their results. If they “goof off” during work hours but achieve their goals by working every night after they put their kids to bed, should you criticise them? Of course not. But it’s not easy to shift your mindset from processes to results. The most successful leaders are those who can make that shift.
4. Push Authority to Information
The old process for delegating work was to give work to a subordinate, and ask them to report to you regularly, especially if unexpected obstacles arose. This is the “push information to authority” model, where any new information is pushed up the hierarchy.
It should be obvious this isn’t the most effective way to lead anymore. Not only do you become a bottleneck, you don’t empower your people to develop and apply their own skills. This is true for any team, but especially for a diverse team, where you value their ideas, insights, and decisions precisely because they are different from your own.
A better approach is to adopt the opposite mindset – that is, push authority to information. U.S Navy Commander David Marquet teaches this principle in his book “Turn the Ship Around”, where he describes how he transformed the culture of his crew from followers to leaders. Marquet inherited a crew that was used to obeying orders, and his book describes how he gradually empowered them to accept more responsibility and authority.
How will YOU embrace diversity for better performance?
We used to say, “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team’”. But that’s no longer the case. People in a diverse team have unique talents, individual goals, and innovative ideas. There is an ‘I’ in “Team” now, and high-performance teams need leaders who recognise this profound change.
Not all leaders will rise to this challenge. If you call your people “resources”, define their roles by their job descriptions, see them as interchangeable parts in a machine, or view your Generation Y employees as demanding and self-absorbed, you won’t be able to make this work. But if you truly embrace their diversity and tap into their talents and skills, you can create a high-performance team that is fit for the future.
Please login with linkedin to commentGihan Perera
In this guest post, Jen Dobbie (main image), creative director at Hotwire Australia, says ultimately advertising is merely storytelling and offers her expert tips to put more zing in your brand’s tale… The Wicked Bible is a deliciously named, and tempting title for a storied series of mistakes published in 1631. Its pages house the […]
Blooms The Chemist is digitising how it manages owned media, rolling out a dedicated supplier media portal capable of managing in-store and online campaigns across its 110+ pharmacies. The Australian pharmacy sector has seen significant growth, accelerated by the COVID-19 response. At the peak of the country’s pandemic, retail pharmacy sales surpassed $800 million, up […]
data.ai (formerly App Annie), the first unified data ai company, today in partnership with IDC, released the Gaming Spotlight 2022 report. Powered by Game IQ, the report reveals that mobile gaming represents 61 percent of the overall gaming market which is set to hit $222 billion in 2022. The report reveals that mobile gaming is […]
Emplifi, the leading unified customer experience (CX) platform, today revealed the findings of its Q1 2022 analysis of social media spend across thousands of brands worldwide including those in Asia Pacific (APAC). While overall social media ad spend decreased in the first quarter following an impressive holiday showing, it remains significantly higher than a year […]
Reconciliation Australia and Carbon Creative will launch National Reconciliation Week 2022 tomorrow, Friday, 27 May (running through to 3 June) with the theme ‘Be brave. Make change.’ The theme and campaign, developed by social change creative agency Carbon Creative in collaboration with emerging Torres Strait Visual Artist Tori-Jay Mordey, challenges all Australians—individuals, families, communities, organisations, […]
The latest entry in EA and Maxis’ life simulation series, The Sims 4, has released a new update which allows players to customise their character’s pronouns. This new feature is available only in the English version of the game for the time being, with the developers saying that they will soon release it for other […]