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How to Build a High Value Team - Diversity is the Power Word

So you want to know how to build a high value team? First remember ‘It is not all about you.’

A team, according to Webster's Dictionary is defined as ‘a number of persons associated together in work or activity.’ With that in mind, that means you are working with others. A team is made up of diversity- you might have different generations, genders, races, and cultural beliefs. As the leader of a team, you bring your own knowledge, expectations, worldview, values, and preferences into this relationship. The key to building a high value team is to remember we are made for relationships.

Relationships take time, it is an investment in others. You may not realize how many hours are in a week,168 hours actually. This means a full time employee spends a quarter of their weekly life with people that may not resemble them in culture, race, gender, age, values, knowledge, experience, and industry background. That is why it is important to remember when building a team you need to surround yourself with diversity because that is the world we sell our services and goods.

According to Pat Wadors, senior vice president of GTO, “When you surround yourself with people who think exactly like you, you get this false sense of security that maybe you've seen everything or that you know everything." In order to get better at your job, she says, you need to expose yourself to a diversity of thoughts, cultures, backgrounds and even generations (Charles Coy, Cornerstone on Demand, August 2015).

  1. Cultural Diversity is defined as the existence of a variety of cultural or ethnic groups within a society ( Our world is becoming closer and more integrated than ever. Typically, people think of cultural diversity as ethnic groups; however, it is also seen in the regions of our own country. New Yorkers and Southerners for example. People relate to their locations, food, travel, religion and experiences. These define what culture is made up.

  2. Generation Diversity - Every generation is labeled with a term to help identify what happened in their era. A group of people defined by age boundaries ( For the first time in history, there are five generations working side by side: the Traditional generation (born pre-1945), Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1964-1981), Generation Y (1981-1995), and Millennials (born 1981 to 2001). Gen Z is nipping at the heels and joining in the workplace also. There is so much we can learn from one another when we build a team with generational diversity: we can share wisdom, knowledge, and history that makes us understand one another. Much like how iron sharpens iron.

  3. Racial Diversity - A McKinsey Report (2014) research finds, "Of 366 public companies analyzed, those in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians.(Ruchika Tulshyan, Forbes, Jan 30, 2015). Again, the value of building a team that portrays a well-rounded representation of our world says volumes to internal and external stakeholders.

  4. Gender Diversity - Studies reflect an interesting dynamic that women bring to the traditional male workplace. A study published in Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, “One of the best ways to boost capacity to transform themselves and their products may involve hiring more women and culturally diverse team members." David Rock & Heidi Grant analyzed levels of gender diversity in research and development teams from 4,277 companies in Spain. Using statistical models, they found that companies with more women were more likely to introduce radical new innovations into the market over a two-year period.” (Harvard Business Review, Nov 4, 2016). Having women on boards, in leadership roles, and working in technical fields brings balance onto the team that is refreshing and needed.

People have different values, beliefs, preferences, experiences, knowledge, and personality types. Throw the traditional types of diversity into the mix of team dynamics and it should become quickly apparent that time, communication, and engagement have to occur for trust to be established.

So with all this diversity, how do you bring people together to build a team? You have to invest in them. Some of these tips are simple to implement and some take more effort. The results will pay off when people know you care and want to spend time with them. Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating teams dynamics.

  • Keep your culture informal by using first names; it makes everyone feel they are part of a team.

  • Create a culture of open feedback. In meetings, encourage all ideas to be shared. It may start out silly and practical, however when the creative juices start flowing that is when innovation and improvement happens.

  • Participate in weekly or monthly activities that foster people getting to know one another. It might be having a glass of wine or beer at the end of the week, participating in the Insane Inflatable 5K, making a meal for families at the Ronald McDonald House, or encouraging everyone to bring in blankets and socks for the homeless to prepare for cold weather.

  • Recognize everyone makes mistakes and failure is a valuable gift. Speak respectfully and ask what their thought process was at the time. It helps a person to be heard and gives you insight how the team member thinks.

  • Adults learn new behaviors best by doing...not hearing or seeing...doing. When you provide hands-on experience to truly understand how the new behaviors apply to their specific role, change begins to happen.

  • Recognize people in social channels. Give shout outs when a project is finished, someone is promoted, or joins your business.

  • Spend time getting to know your staff by having lunch with them.

  • Give work appropriate hugs, pats on the back, or fist bumps. The power of human touch shows another layer of connectivity.

  • Ask them how to improve the business and recognize they can see things you may not be aware of.

Contact me for more information or just to chat, at Isabella Johnston

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