This week we partnered with our friends at TINYpulse to bring you a webinar that showed managers how to see the significance of diversity, how to better understand culture and how it shows up in the workplace, and we outlined some strategies to build inclusion in your teams.

Get the full webinar recording HERE, and what follows will cover 4 key strategy themes based on our webinar content that will help you gain better access to what your team can provide. Let’s look at the overview:

  • Learn the 3 step internal process to resolve cultural miscommunication
  • Find 3 ways to ensure diversity is a business advantage
  • Look at Raytheon’s “questions to inclusion” process and list
  • Start seeing how workplace cultural characteristics give high retention

Theme #1: 3 Step internal process for cultural miscommunications

When we experience workplace conflicts, it is usually because we perceive a values clash. The two most common responses to this are to:

(a) Avoid the conflict and withdraw, or

(b) Confront the other person in a judgmental way that makes both parties feel worse

Here is a third approach; look inside and ensure that your own internal emotions, intent and processes are clear to yourself. Then proceed with trying to solve the misunderstanding from a position of humility and desire to learn.

Three themes to remember in this internal process are:

  1. Start with an awareness of your own emotions
  2. Ask questions to understand, not to judge
  3. Get back to the “good” in the other person by looking for common values

Use the format below to set yourself up internally for conflict resolution success:

– Start with awareness of my own emotions

  • Ask myself: What am I feeling right now? Why; what is the trigger?
  • Consider: Everyone has some reasoning for their behaviour, I just have to find it
  • Suspend judgment: we tend to see ourselves as good and competent and others as having bad character
  • Allow myself some time to process the “clash” and ask myself how I can figure it out

– Question to understand not to judge

  • Build questioning skills that lead me to understand the other person: “Where did you get that idea from?” “ Who else do you know thinks that way?” “ Where did they get their ideas?”
  • Remind myself: I don’t have to agree. I don’t have to accept. I just have to understand from the other point of view
  • Follow the reasoning through to its logical end – Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth means we all end up eyeless and toothless.”

– Get back to the “good” and find common values

  • Affirm the other person’s virtues, not their vices
  • Find the “zone of values proximity” and stay away from the values danger zones
  • Decide where I cannot be flexible and inclusive, and know why I have those boundaries

Managing misconceptions and addressing miscommunications is one of the most complex and difficult occurrences in the workplace.  Using these steps will assist to make the process more transparent, logical, and – in the end – doable.

Need more ways to improve your communications…especially with your boss?

Check out our free eLearning Module: “Communicating with your boss” and start ‘managing up’ today!

Theme #2: 3 Ways to ensure diversity is a business advantage

The capacity to recognize, appreciate and encourage diverse participation and then channel it towards a common business goal can become a key source of competitive advantage for organizations.  BUT it’s important to remember that diversity alone does not mean inclusion and that diversity and inclusion together do not mean successful business goals will be formed or attained.  Unity is a bit more complex than that.  Let’s look at how diversity can become part of a strategic development plan.

Diversity is a business advantage when:

#1) We are aware of the kinds of obstacles employees from different cultures face, and put measures in place for those obstacles to be mitigated or removed.

To get there ask:

  • What do you need to be successful here?
  • What would make you feel safe to contribute?

#2) We can see and use the talents of our employees when they do not look or sound like us.

To get there ask:

  • How would you approach this problem differently from me?
  • What would you like to be able to contribute to this company?

#3) Our workplace is built around a culture of inclusion where people are encouraged to contribute from their unique perspectives AND to work with unity towards common goals.

To get there ask:

  • How could we solicit ideas in ways others will contribute?
  • How do we build unity and bring people back to the purpose of their work?

“We need to reach that happy stage in our development when differences and diversity are not seen as sources of division and distrust, but of strength and inspiration.”

Josepha Iloilo

Theme #3: Raytheon’s questions to inclusion initiative

The questions included below are based on Raytheon’s inclusion themes and the process, but we have adapted them to suit our context here.Here is the basic procedure: at any meeting between two or more people, every participant asks one of the questions below to a colleague as a “pair-share” exchange for a few minutes. Each person listens to and responds to their partner, then the meeting continues its usual agenda.

Questions:

  • Share something about your family or friends
  • Can you tell me something about your name or nickname, who gave it to you?
  • Tell me something about an interest or hobby you have that I might not know about
  • Do you speak any languages other than English?
  • Is there something in your life you are particularly proud of?
  • What is one of the things you really want to do before the end of your career – your bucket list?
  • If you could change one thing about your work right now, what would it be?
  • Have you overcome an obstacle that might be useful for another team member to know?
  • What is one of the craziest things you have ever done?

Providing with people with a format and a venue to learn something about their colleagues is a simple way to increase perspective and to allow coworkers and supervisors to see one another as more complete persons, who have experiences, likes, dislikes, values, and preferences that are unique and valuable.

Theme #4: Workplace cultural characteristics for high retention

Work to build, maintain and repair trust between people at work and you will see increased unity towards common goals, willingness to challenge and innovate, and a culture of encouragement, learning and appreciation. Continuously strive to be an example of:

  • Transparency
  • Setting clear goals
  • Showing appreciation

Do’s and Don’ts

DO encourage open communication

DON’T stifle innovation and uniqueness

DO recognize inherent biases and put strategies in place to mitigate them

DON’T ignore the diverse perspectives on your team and restrain success

DO  learn to be comfortable with cultural difference by associating with people who are not like you

DON’T overlook the many forms of diversity

DO value and prioritize team success

DON’T pretend you have diversity because people think differently, or that you have inclusion because people don’t look the same

Creating a work environment around these practices will create a place for employees to explore their abilities and share their skills in ways that achieve organizational objectives.  Perhaps the adage “if you build it, they will come,” applies just as readily here…

Closing Thoughts

When people begin to move away from the need to be “right” and toward the need to be curious, or to understand, or to be of service; when people begin to view their own perspective as only one alternative available and decide to enable progress by allow others to share, diversity and inclusion in the workplace become living assets that have the potential to enliven the organization.  All they need are a bit of nurturing.

Start by asking sincere questions.  Start listening – with your eyes and with your ears – and start seeing how you can be a bigger part of growing the potential of your team.

Ready to get communication right?

Check out our free eLearning Module: “Communicating with your boss” and find ways to:

  1. Time your requests
  2. Provide and request information effectively
  3. Tap into your boss’s expertise
  4. Report your successes and challenges

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”

Steve Jobs