DIVERSE TEAMS PRODUCE BETTER RESULTS

Research has consistently shown that diverse teams produce better results, provided they are well led. The ability to bring together people from different backgrounds, disciplines, cultures, and generations and leverage all they have to offer, therefore, is a must-have for leaders (Ibarra and Hansen 2011: 71).

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I believe managing a diverse team is the most important skill to be considered by managers in any industry because the term “Diversity” is of high importance while working globally; it ensures working individuals to have a global mindset and a long term cultural agility/awareness at their work place. Diversity can be based on various characteristics such as Age, Gender, Ethnicity/Race or Nationality and also it can be considered from the cognitive perspective such as international experience, work, industry and education (Chron, 2014).

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Diversity can be seen as either a balancing tendency for homogeneous groups to think alike or the combination of different views to form a decision will have a better outcome than a single view, which shows the synergy of working with diverse groups. However, diverse teams can also experience barriers or limitations based on their differences. One such difference is the communication gap between individuals; this difference can cost the team their time and effort in understanding the situation or outcome and raises the transaction cost. Most of the case studies presume that a global mindset, often defined as honesty and global knowledge, is a key to executives and organisations succeeding in a highly interlinked world.

144960_254x191Derek Sivers founder and former President of CD baby proposes a striking argument on Cultural Diversity through his TED Talk: Weird or just different? Derek explains how different cultures have an impact on people’s daily life. He supports his judgement using the metric system as an example. The metric system that is followed in the U.S.A may not be the same in different countries. It is the human nature that makes us all to be judgemental when the situation is not favourable and we think of it as weird or wrong. Different countries may have adopted different metric system, which makes them unique from others and it should be respected as it is (TED, 2014; Tedex Project,2010).

Another example which Derek has emphasized about the difference in culture is by giving an example of naming of streets and blocks. In America the streets have names where as the blocks do not have but in Japan the blocks are numbered and streets are not. If a person travels from America to Japan and asks for a street name which does not exists, would place that person in a state of confusion because in reality it is known that there are only block numbers in Japan instead of street names (Tedex Project, 2010).

What does an organization expect from a Manager or a Leader?

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Mintzberg theory describes that an organisation expects a manager to exercise interpersonal and decision making skills to understand the varied cultures of teams spread across a global horizon. Managers and team members need to perceive and act according to the cultural changes, which will help them to choose the right strategy and avoid situations of single-culture based approaches in a multicultural environment (Thomas, 2004).

Hofstede’s Cultural theory focuses on how society’s culture is influenced by factors such as Power:The degree of power is evenly distributed to the people in living in societies depending upon their social status in that society. Individualism: This reflects an individual’s responsibility towards family and society. Uncertainty: The degree to which the members of the society feel uncomfortable due to uncertainty and ambiguity (Geert, 2014).

How might a manager use the knowledge of diversity to produce better results?

Jaie Philips the general manager of Canterra Suites Executive Hotel says that “Around here the general manager’s is no more important than the house man’s –just different. We run this hotel as a Team. And our team spirit comes from acknowledging, accepting and respecting our individual differences”. Canterra’s 13- person which includes a multi-general work force of both men and women different nations (Canada, Philippines, Trinard and Portugal); possessed an array of diversity which included people who speak different languages, culture and religious views. Among the staff members, one was not able to read, another had autism, and another is a gay. Each individual were assigned roles based on their potentiality and the outcome was successful (Human Resource Strategies, 2008).

One of the important aspects of diversity which Canterra came across was “Language”, some of the hotel guests may not be able to communicate in English and employers often act as translators. Phillips says that by encouraging people to speak and listening to their needs and requirements, he is able to run a profitable business without any difficulty. As a result of applying this strategy, the hotel had received many awards based on their service and an honorary award from the Alberta Chamber of Commerce for diversity leadership (Human Resource Strategies, 2008).

Thus, I strongly hold to the belief that diverse teams when led positively and effectively can produce outstanding results. It is a challenging task for Global leaders to produce a diverse team which can be used as a tool to maximize the benefits of an organization. Diversification has its pros and cons where the leaders have to form a sustainable strategy to utilize the benefits of it and to neglect the negative aspects of it. However, it is a matter of perspective of how to identify and respect the differences as it is.

REFERENCES:

[1]    Chron. (2014) Advantages & Disadvantages of Diverse Workforce in an Organization; [online] available from < http://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-disadvantages-diverse-workforce-organization-20467.html>; [Accessed: 09 May 2014]

[2]    Financial Times Lexicon. (2014) Definition of diverse teams; [online] available from < http://lexicon.ft.com/term?term=diverse-teams> [Accessed: 09 May 2014]

[3]    Human Resource Strategies. (2008) Employing a Diverse Workforce: Making it Work [online] available from < https://alis.alberta.ca/pdf/cshop/employdiverse.pdf> p.26 [Accessed: 09 May 2014]

[4]    TED. (2014) Derek Sivers[online] available from <http://www.ted.com/speakers/derek_sivers> [Accessed: 12 May 2014]

[5]    Tedex Project. (2010) The TEDxClassroomProject; [online] available from < http://tedxproject.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/derek-sivers-weird-or-just-different/ >[Accessed: 12 May 2014]

[6]     Thomas, A.D (2004), ‘Diversity as Strategy’, Harvard Business Review. Boston: Harvard Business Review, [online] available from                 <http://www.tedchilds.com/files/HBRDiversityStrategy04.pdf >[Accessed: 09 May 2014]

[7]    Geert. (2014) THE HOFSTEDE CENTRE; [online] available from < http://geert-hofstede.com/dimensions.html > [Accessed: 09 May 2014]

 

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By Vijay Sabarish

6 comments on “DIVERSE TEAMS PRODUCE BETTER RESULTS

  1. vijay, its an interesting topic and you made it more interesting, you mentioned culture and my point of view culture is one aspect that inherited on people and difficult to manage or change, well done vijay

  2. Good that you analyse both advantages and disadvantages of diversity. Maybe you can add some of your positive or negative experiences with diversity in your blog. The video contributes well to your blog and the Japanese vs US address system is a good example of challenges within diversity.

  3. Dear Celine. Thank you for your valuable comment. I believe the video on Derek Severs’s Culture Diversity has helped me to understand the significance of diverse culture in a society. Moreover, the concept of diversity has helped me to connect with people from different corners of the world.

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