Nearly all firms, boards, managers, and executive teams have added people from underrepresented groups to embrace diversity. However, they often fail to embrace inclusion and collaboration. Simply adding diversity to your team will never be beneficial unless you encourage people to bring their unique perspectives and knowledge and integrate their contributions.
Such an approach, where people from underrepresented groups are heard and valued, results in smarter collaborations. These are some common mistakes you’re probably making that hurt your ability to collaborate smartly with your team and its diverse members.
When diversity is not managed correctly, it can make team members dread conflict. They halt broader communications and only talk to those team members who are the same as them simply because they are fearful.
Instead of healthy collaborations, this fear results in a crippled team. Managers may risk a backroom culture when they welcome conflicts yet handle them in one-on-one meetings. This grave mistake is the opposite of inclusive engagement and contribution, which is why you should avoid it at all costs.
A disproportionate number of people from underrepresented groups find it difficult to get a word in edgeways. This phenomenon has been researched in many national parliaments of western countries, where women are interrupted more than men.
Such instances cause most women to stop trying, and after a while, they stop participating in the conversation. This is not just the case for women in parliament but also for people from traditionally marginalized groups in the corporate world.
Most notably, others also stop participating when they see someone from their group being frequently interrupted. Avoid interrupting team members, especially if you want smarter collaborations.
Advising team members about what to do, how to speak, or what to wear may come from a good place and may even be helpful in some cases. However, it can easily cross the line from helpful to pressured.
When team members get frequent signals that they must change or “fit in” to progress, they become less likely to collaborate, especially with the person giving the advice. You will never learn their unique perspective, which kills the true value of collaborations. Over time, it is even possible that the person may withdraw completely from contributing anything.
When you avoid the mistakes mentioned, you instantly open yourself and your team to more efficient and smarter collaborations. It can result in higher revenue, profits, deeper relationships, stronger engagement, better innovations, and smoother customer experiences. Mismanaging team members’ differences, on the other hand, can easily cause tension and a wide range of issues that hamper smarter collaborations.