When we think of managing diversity in the workplace, we generally focus on aspects of social or demographic diversity such as gender, race, ethnic or generational diversity.
Effectively managing diversity in the workplace calls for the addition of other forms of diversity that we may not think of. I'm talking about personality diversity and informational diversity.
Including personality and informational diversity in your teams can be a powerful tool for creating a workforce that's innovative and able to solve problems more creatively than a non-diverse group. These two diversities can bring in fresh perspectives that help you reach your bottom-line objectives.
The Role Personality Diversity Plays in Managing Workplace Diversity
People with different personalities have different strengths. Hiring a mix of people with different personality traits can help you capitalize on those strengths.
Let's look at the role that personality plays in the innovation process. Ideally, an innovation team consists of individuals who enjoy generating a variety of new ideas. These are people who thrive in brainstorming sessions. They may be big-picture thinkers who can look at a problem from different perspectives.
The innovation process also needs team members who are adept at synthesizing a variety of ideas and narrowing the list down to what's feasible. These are typically detail-oriented people.
Another phase of the innovation process is the implementation of ideas. This final phase may call for team members with a different set of attitudes or personality preferences than those who excel at the idea-generation stage. The implementers are the ones who may use an organized approach to deliver on the ideas. They may be the pragmatists who turn the ideas into reality.
Creating space for personality and informational diversity can help you create a stronger work environment where everyone may feel that they can contribute.
Without this diversity in personality, the innovation process may not be as effective. A higher mix of people with different personality traits can turn your team into a multifaceted diamond, shining in every direction.
The Importance of Informational Diversity When Managing Diversity in the Workplace
Informational diversity refers to differences in knowledge, education and industry experience. There's an adage that says people tend to hire people who are like themselves. For example, people may favor individuals who have a similar educational background or functional experience. Often, similarity creates a feeling of kinship. When this mindset influences our hiring process, we may end up with low informational diversity in teams.
Looking beyond what you know, and seeking people with different industry experiences may help you gain richer perspectives. As well, informational diversity can have a positive impact on teams since the group will be able to access a wider array of skills and functional specialties.
Low informational diversity in a team means that team members may end up thinking alike when it comes to solving customer problems, for instance. Failing to get ideas from people who think differently can result in being blindsided and missing out on possible alternative solutions to issues.
Leveraging Personality and Informational Diversity
To tap the potential of enhanced innovation and diversity of perspectives, you can adopt these eight strategies for managing diversity in your workplace and harnessing the power of these two additional types of diversity.
- Raise your awareness of the collective weaknesses in your team or organization. Is there the right mix of personalities? Do you have people with experience in industries or markets outside those you're familiar with? Are there any particular departments that have a high level of insularity?
- Develop a recruitment and training plan to lower the weaknesses and boost the collective strengths in every department in your company.
- Make sure that your hiring processes identify differences in personality.
- Consider if recruiting people who have a wide range of experience beyond your region or sector may be beneficial to you.
- Hold recruiters accountable for diversity recruitment.
- Coach managers to promote an appreciation for diversity.
- Establish a culture that encourages people to be themselves. Don't pressure people to conform.
- Cherish those who disagree with you. Make it safe for people to stick their necks out.
Creating space for personality and informational diversity can help you create a stronger work environment, one where everyone feels like they can contribute, and enhance your company's human capital.
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