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Tips for working in a diverse team

Harnessing diversity isn't a once only event. It needs to be integral to business activities.

At the beginning:

  • Look at who's in the group. If it's predominately the same sort of person, ask yourself why? Can a homogeneous group truly represent the views of the customer? Have they got the knowledge they need? Can you find people with different backgrounds to join the team?
  • Don't try to mould people towards any point of view. The point of differences is that they enrich the idea pool.
  • Don't pretend to agree when you don't. Differences can be fuel for developing ideas.
  • Look for common ground. Core beliefs are often the same when surface beliefs are different.
  • Involve the team in finding ways to make sure everyone is contributing to the full.
  • Look out for any quiet ones. Why aren't they contributing? Do they feel excluded?
  • Make sure you personally include everyone

When the project begins:

  • Start with groundrules. Get any doubts into the open. People must respect the views and values of others, even if their own beliefs are different
  • Keep alert to whether the groundrules are being kept, and go over it again if there are problems
  • If you see stereotyping, don't keep quiet. Challenge it.
  • Keep an eye on yourself as well. Keep listening, be inclusive, and give constructive feedback.
  • Keep checking up on diversity management. Is it inclusive? Does everyone join in? Is conflict dealt with in a respectful way?

As the work progresses:

  • Focus on achievements
  • Support all styles of leadership from all members.
  • If someone's authority is challenged, give support to all parties. Look for a solution that is consistent with individual and group values.
  • Make a point of commenting on successes, small or large, from any member of the team

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© Copyright 2003 Trans4mation. Reproduced with permission. Any opinions or views contained in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Training Reference.

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