The world is getting flatter and the global workforce is becoming more and more interconnected. To be prepared and confident in leading teams of diverse and disparate individuals, managers must pick up skills couched in learning, understanding, and connecting with their team members. Some companies have shown that shifting away from managing and more towards enabling and supporting is in order, to better promote inclusivity and diversity within team structures. Where the typical management structures have become flattened, everyone’s strengths are needed to accomplish team projects, and everyone on a team feels accountable to everyone else for the team to succeed. Here are our tips for managing and supporting a diverse team:
- Examine Your Own Biases
Bias and inexperience, two of the biggest hurdles for managers to manage for themselves when in charge of a team of people. Bias can inform how managers relate and connect to their team members, and inexperience can lead to doubt regarding being an effective leader. Both can be tackled with professional and personal development for managers through self-assessments and reflection. Becoming confident in your own skills and biases will help you as a manager better understand how you connect to your employees. It might be scary. And it might be uncomfortable. But knowing how your own brain works is key to managing and supporting your team in their work.
Tools to understanding your own biases include online or self-assessments around implicit bias, such as those from Project Implicit at Harvard. Be aware of the disclaimers and impact of these assessments, that they are for research purposes and are not all-encompassing of all forms or manifestations of bias. But they are a great place to start to think about your own implicit bias. Other methods of identifying and addressing your own biases are to implement mindfulness exercises in your daily routine, as well as reflecting on and analyzing how you communicate with your team, regarding multicultural and diverse identities and experiences. As adults, we all learn by reflecting on actions we take, so in order to learn more about ourselves and how we tick, we have to take time to learn and understand our own behaviors.
Uncover Your Team’s Strengths
There exist many assessments for discovering your team’s communication and work styles as well as their professional strengths and skills. You can have your team share their MBTI types, you can do the CliftonStrengths assessment together, you can even share your astrology signs if your team feels like that represents their personality. For you to better understand your team members, and for them to better understand each other’s capabilities, doing and sharing such assessments with each other will help understand how your team members can support each other. Sharing this information helps you know how your team members tick. This way, you can better support their individual work and communication styles and become a stronger and more productive team.
After doing these assessments and sharing this information, you can make it a team practice to have living documents with all this team information, especially around communication styles. That way, if anyone needs to reference how best to utilize the team’s collective strengths, the information lives in a shared place. If you have a physical office space together, this can look like office signs representing each team member and their capabilities. If you have a digital shared space, like a shared file drive, you can have a document with all the information stored there for easy reference. You can make it fun with icons, or you can just keep the necessary information. Adapt it to what works for you and your team.
Organize Your Team’s Communication
In the increasingly digital workplace, you, your team, and your organization have decisions to make about what technology you will use to collaborate within and across teams. From messaging platforms, to email communication and organization, to shared drives of documents, your team could be using multiple means of communication with you and each other. Streamlining what channels everyone should communicate through and how word spreads is essential for easy and effective communication.
Using different communication and organization systems for different levels of priority or planning can also help you organize what everyone is working on and what most needs a manager’s attention. This way, everyone on the team knows what everyone is working on, and you can monitor everyone’s progress and communicate with all of your diverse team effectively. Success comes from a strong collective effort, so seeing and managing the whole picture is essential.
Plan Your Team’s Fun
Building connections within your team will also help you build connections with your team members. By planning opportunities for your team to bond and get to know one another, your job as a manager will be easier. Your team members will know what other members are doing and support one another while you also support them from a managerial perspective. Learning about one another through socializing and team-building activities can also help the team learn more about each other. Scheduling fun almost negates the fun itself but making sure those touchpoints of social interactions exist for your team is important to how your team works together. They will relate to each other, they will perform better, and they’ll become more comfortable with each other.
Our work at OSG focuses around helping business become customer centric, but growth can come from the inside as well as the outside. Addressing employee needs and company culture can help your employees improve their productivity and focus on your customers, thus driving business growth. Contact us to learn how we can help your business become more customer centric and adapt to the increasingly global and digital marketplace!