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Unifying a Team of Diverse Members

We hear a lot about diversity, because of the ever-changing world around us. But, when you’re forced to face it and learn how to unite a team of highly diverse people, how do you do it?

Unifying a team of diverse members

Team Diversity is Helping Your Organization

First of all, it’s important to understand that diverse team members are actually a good thing for your organization. It might not always seem like it, but diversity can aid an organization in problem-solving, creative thinking, and productivity. These benefits can only happen if you can properly manage your diverse team of employees.

How can you manage a diverse team? There is no easy answer to this question and no solution that fits into all situations. However, there are a few great tips that can help you find the solutions to your what’s happening in your own team.

 

Cultivating Respect

Respect The Uniqueness Of People. Above all else, respect is necessary if you want to have a rightly functioning group of diverse people. Not only should you respect them all individually, but you have to create a culture of every team member respecting one another.

With diversity comes a plethora of viewpoints on every issue, a variety of lifestyles, and a lot of different cultural differences. This is difficult to navigate at times, but if you train your employees to always act with respect for one another, and if you also embrace that principle, then you can manage to work together more peacefully.

Only when you appreciate that everyone is unique can you begin to accept people as they are. Respect their uniqueness. Support them in their individual learning and developmental process. Be grateful for having attained this level of awareness. Developing your awareness is a life-long personal challenge on the path toward perfection.

Clear Expectations

Acknowledge to your team that you are made up of a lot of diverse people, and make sure they understand that this was intentional. It’s important that each member knows that they belong on the team and that it wasn’t an accident that brought them there. Show each member why they are important to the team and what you expect from them.

Your entire team should understand your expectations for them as a team, and as individuals. It is much easier to unify people once they have something to work towards!

Inclusive Decision-Making

You are only one person with one way of thinking. If you want a truly diverse team to last, you’ll need to make sure they can be involved in the decision-making process in a meaningful way. Don’t exclude your team from important decisions that need to be made. Ultimately, you are the final authority and the one who makes the call. BUT, you should involve your team in the process of deciding what that call will be and how you as a team will proceed towards your goals.

Teams that make decisions together are more likely to be able to stick to those decisions and create fantastic results. If your members feel like they are not involved in the process, or worse that only a few people were involved and not the entire team, you may lose your unity very quickly.

Be Flexible to Change

Leaders often make the mistake of assuming everyone will respond the same way to their leadership style. This simply isn’t true, and many leaders create problems when they act on this assumption. Don’t be one of those leaders!

Instead, be willing to adapt your leadership style to each team member, according to what will work best with them. Your goal isn’t to make friends and keep everyone as happy as possible, but if you can manage to do that along the way by switching up how you do things, why wouldn’t you? People from diverse backgrounds won’t always respond the same way to your leadership, and that’s okay. Be willing to change up how you do things in order to help make every employee as productive as possible.

Teach Healthy Conflict

Where diversity exists, conflict always follows. It’s natural, and not always unhealthy if it’s done in a productive environment. Plan times of structured conflict where employees are able to discuss their own diverse ideas and thoughts without criticism, just healthy and useful conversations. Make sure to mediate these discussions closely and keep employees from ruining the atmosphere with negative comments or personal attacks.

Diversity and Inclusion Infographic

Infographic courtesy of 4imprint based on the Diversity in the Workplace Blue Paper 

Conclusion

Managing a diverse team is not going to be easy, but the benefits are clearly there if you can be successful. Use these tips to help guide you towards a healthy team full of diverse thoughts and different ideas.

Do Team Members Have to Like Each Other to Work Well Together?

One huge question that many people have about teams is this: do team members actually have to like each other to work together? The short answer is no, they don’t. However, a simple “no” doesn’t acknowledge the more complex parts of this problem, so the article below will be addressing this question in more depth.

Do Team Members Have To Like Each Other to work well as a team

Personal Feelings Versus Conflict

First and foremost, it’s important to recognise the difference between active conflicts and people simply not liking each other. Conflict is when two or more parties are actively being hostile to each other because of a specific disagreement. This could be a short-term disagreement over how work should be done or a long-term disagreement between two people that feel differently about how things should be happening with the team.

Personal feelings are all about how people relate to one another on a daily basis. Conflict can arise out of extreme dislike of one another, but it doesn’t have to. It’s possible to work together without conflict, even if you don’t personally like someone else you’re working with.

How Do Personal Feelings Affect Your Team?

Interpersonal relations of team members aren’t really the business of team leaders as long as those relationships are not affecting the productivity of employees or the work being produced. If personal feelings start to get in the way of work that needs to be done, then and only then should a leader step in to try to bridge the gap.

It’s impossible for everyone in the world to get along well with each other. Differences in personalities, beliefs, ways of life, and more will always exist. These differences are what create a diverse workplace. Diversity might be difficult to handle at first, but it’s worth the effort in the end despite the risk of conflict between team members.

Creating A Standard For Interpersonal Relations

Conflicts between team members should be avoided when possible and dealt with openly when they occur. It’s the job of a team leader or manager to stress that employees must treat each other with at least a minimal level of respect at work. Professionalism demands that team members show some courtesy towards one another and work pleasantly beside each other.

If teams get along well with each other, these types of professional conduct rules will not have to be enforced or emphasised. However, in a case where any number of team members don’t like each other, it’s essential that everyone involved understands that their job is not to like each other but to get work done as a team. This requires civility and professional courtesy at the very least. Teams that have interpersonal problems need to have standards of behavior set for them to follow just like any other performance standards at work.

Liking Someone Versus Trusting Someone

The major difference between teams that work well together despite poor interpersonal relations and those that don’t work well together is trust. As long as members of a team trust that each person will be able to do their work properly and contribute to the team goal they will be able to work alongside one another. Without trust no team can function well.

Trust requires some level of respect between employees. They don’t need to respect each other as individuals, but as professionals. As long as two employees who don’t like each other can acknowledge that each one of them is a capable professional who can add to the team at large, they will be able to get work done. Without this basic respect, no trust will exist between employees and the team will eventually start to fail.

The Bottom Line

Whether or not people like each other is not really a concern for a team leader to focus on. The bigger issue is how they treat each other at work despite that dislike of one another. If employees are working well together, treating each other professionally and courteously, and accomplishing goals then there is no real need to delve into issues of interpersonal relations. However, if personal feelings are getting in the way of work performance, it’s necessary to remedy the situation before it gets out of hand.


Team Building helps build working relationships and trust?

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate a range of fun based team building activities that help build team morale, trust and an appreciation for the differences within a team. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you contact us today.