How to successfully manage a diverse team in five easy to follow steps
A diverse team is a good thing. It’s the best way to get a mix of different ideas and creative solutions, especially when you’re working on complex projects or problems. However, managing a diverse team certainly has its challenges.
You have to take care of the team’s cultural needs and differences, understand the power structure and make sure that your employees feel valued. More importantly, you need to know how to communicate successfully with all kinds of people. Here are five easy steps you can take to start managing a diverse team and enjoy the success and benefits which come with it.
1. Get to know your team.
As part of running any team you need to take time to get to know everybody personally so you can understand how individuals like to be treated. This is especially important when working with a diverse group of people because they may have been brought up in different cultures or have had different life experiences to you and may not respond well to certain types of management styles.
With time, you will get to understand everyone’s preferred communication style, and how they like to be recognised and motivated. This will help you tailor your approach so that everyone feels understood, appreciated, and knows that you have their personal best interests at heart.
2. Be fair.
Being fair to employees is essential for any manager, but particularly when directing a diverse team. Make sure that all of your employees feel as though they are part of the group and have an equal voice in the decision-making process. Develop and foster policies that establish respect among all employees, regardless of their gender, religion, race, sexual orientation or other difference.
To manage people from different backgrounds, you need to understand that their needs may not be the same as yours or the other people on your team. You should also anticipate possible misunderstandings between team members and try to resolve them in a positive way.
As with any team, you need to make sure you communicate what the goals are, what success looks like and the impact that failure will have. Be clear about individual roles and responsibilities. This is something that should be documented in an employee handbook for all new starters.
Make sure everyone feels they have equal opportunities. Create clear expectations for all employees, so that there can be no confusion about what is expected of them and no favouritism when it comes to evaluating performance.
3. Be inclusive.
Celebrate differences and make sure you focus on commonalities. Highlight the strengths of each employee while finding ways to build camaraderie among team members who may not share much in common. For example, if you have employees who don’t speak English fluently, assign someone to mentor them or to serve as the go-to person in the team to help them communicate fully.
In order for diversity to really thrive in your business it needs to be celebrated and encouraged from the top down. When people feel that their unique talents are appreciated by those around them they will feel more comfortable being themselves within the workplace environment and this helps to create a productive culture that welcomes diversity.
Be aware of biases toward different races, religions, sexes, sexual orientations and other demographics, and make sure they don’t threaten the integrity of your workplace or create a hostile environment for anyone. Part of this is to make sure that everybody within your business is aware how to appreciate each other’s differences and encourage learning about other people’s beliefs, cultures and religions.
Be willing to modify your business practices or work schedule if needed for certain employees who may need special accommodations because of religious or cultural beliefs. For example, you may need to adjust the work schedule for an employee who observes the Sabbath. Understand that not all employees will celebrate Christmas, but they might take part in other celebrations such as Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan), Diwali (Hindu), Hanukkah or Chinese New Year.
4. Promote communication and discussion.
Make a point of communicating clearly and frequently with your team. It is vital that you provide your workers with clear instructions and feedback so they know what is expected of them at all times, this helps to minimise mistakes and ensures that employees are working towards common goals.
A diverse workforce will likely consist of people who speak multiple languages and who may use email differently from one another, so establish rules for communication that works well for everyone in the team. If some employees prefer Zoom or phone calls over email, accommodate those preferences wherever possible.
Managing a remote team can take some extra effort as it’s harder to build an emotional connection via email and chat. Make sure that you are scheduling regular calls with each person in your team so that they have time to talk about what’s going on with them personally and professionally. Ask questions about their current work, their goals, their ambitions for the future — anything which will help you understand what makes them tick as individuals.
If you’re managing a remote team across different time zones, it’s important that every individual in the team has an equal voice and is encouraged to participate in discussions. So that everyone feels included and has an opportunity to share their ideas, rotate meeting times so that nobody is consistently left out of the loop because of time zone differences.
5. Give everyone plenty of room to grow.
Employees are more likely to leave their companies if they feel their needs and goals are not being met. A diverse team is no different.
Keeping your diverse team happy and engaged is to provide continuous possibilities for growth and development. Offer opportunities for promotion and challenge people with new tasks so they can learn new skills without stagnating in their jobs. Your employees are more likely to stick with you if they see they have opportunities for career progression or new challenges within your company. Seeing minority representatives in senior management roles will also motivate your diverse team, as it shows that people from the same demographic or with similar backgrounds can achieve success at your company.
Promote from within whenever possible, and look for ways to give employees new responsibilities. If you have employees who are especially talented at what they do and who have the desire to help others, consider making them mentors or trainers.
Keep in mind that successfully managing a diverse team will depend on your awareness and recognition of each team member’s personality and preferences so that you can enable ways for people to grow in their jobs, advance in their careers and feel proud of themselves along the way.
A diverse team will bring different skills, interests and backgrounds into your business. This is what makes diversity, equality and inclusion so important in the workplace. When you’re able to harness the power of your team members’ differences, it can lead to bigger and better ideas, more productive teamwork and more innovative processes. Managing a diverse team successfully can improve your company’s bottom line while also improving relations among all its employees. We hope that these 5 steps will help you to focus your efforts.
If you feel that we can help your organisation, then contact us now on 0800 612 7429 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free EDI audit and consultation on your needs.