Managing a Diverse Workforce

Managing a Diverse Workforce

Managing a diverse workforce can present a number of challenges. So it pays to be prepared for them.

Working with a team that includes people from a range of backgrounds, cultures and experiences offers benefits for a business in terms of a greater variety of ideas, but it can also result in friction.

Challenges may arise for some that are not an issue for others and different managerial techniques may be required for various members of the team. This means it is important that you are taking steps to meet the needs of individuals, as well as communicating to everyone as a team.

Poor management can easily result in any problems quickly escalating, as well as risking some members of the team feeling alienated due to the lack of common ground. It is important for managers to create an environment that supports each member of the team as well as their diversity, and this requires a strategy.

Improve cultural intelligence in your team

Cultural intelligence (CQ) allows individuals to relate to a number of cultures and so work effectively with people who have different experiences to them. Rather than just being sensitive to and aware of different cultures, CQ helps to identify individuals' capabilities in a number of cultural contexts, as the Cultural Intelligence Center explains.

With companies now able to work across various countries and cultures, CQ is vital when it comes to helping a business achieve its goals and expand. It also ensures that all members of your team are able to work closely together, in a way that is effective for each person and draws on each individual's recognized skills and experience.

Rather than taking the stance that everyone on your team is the same, CQ helps you to celebrate cultural differences and inform people about them and how to work with them. Not only is this beneficial when it comes to working with clients from different countries and cultures, it can help to foster better relationships between colleagues. Implementing regular training on CQ could help you manage a diverse team more efficiently.

Manage people as individuals

Improving your own CQ will also help you to manage your team as individuals. While it is important to have goals in place for the team as a whole, managing a diverse workforce means you need to be aware of challenges that each person might face. This knowledge should not be built on stereotypes, either negative or positive, and should instead be based on regular one-to-ones with team members.

Similarly, as EHS Daily Advisor notes, it is important that you judge successes and failures individually in order to assess what extra help might be required or what training team members could benefit from. While this can help with teams that aren't very diverse, it can be hugely beneficial for assessing whether CQ needs to be improved among team members and if there is anything standing in the way of effective communication.

Encourage diversity in teams

If your workplace is diverse, it is vital to emphasize the importance of employees working in teams that reflect this. It can be easy for individuals to gravitate towards people they relate to the most, which can result in silos within your company. This also means that teams aren't fully benefitting from the experiences that diversity gives access to.

Enable people to work with varied teams by hiring different employees and creating a culture of communication will help to nurture talent and fuel creativity. Teams will benefit from improved productivity and collaboration, which can enable better results for the company as a whole.

Ensure promotion criteria is set

When it comes to managing promotions, it is vital that you have criteria in place that need to be met in order to allow individuals to progress. While every instance of progression needs to be judged on an individual basis, you still need to ensure that people are meeting criteria decided at the start of their employment or that is in place for the entire department.

This not only helps to make sure that individuals have the skills needed to succeed in their new position, it also covers the company and yourself against claims of favoritism or prejudice. If everyone is aware that they need to meet the same standards to progress, it helps to foster better relationships and encourage a strong work ethic.

It is also a good idea to tie your equal opportunities policy to your promotion criteria, which - as Marshall E-Learning Consultancy explains - will ensure promotions are in-line with legislation. As part of this, you should have regular discussions regarding career progression with all members of your team so as to provide everyone with equal access to resources that could benefit them.

Take complaints about discrimination seriously

An important factor when managing a diverse workforce is to ensure that any complaints regarding discrimination are not only taken seriously but are seen to be treated so. Failing to address complaints or pick up on behavior can impact the entire team and bring into question how you would cope with future complaints, which can be problematic for team members.

Similarly, not informing people of actions taken, even to state that something has been done, can mean employees lose faith in yours and the company's ability to deal with future situations in a fair way.

It is important that, as well as tackling instances of discrimination quickly and effectively, you have a clear process in place for complaints and raising concerns. This should have several tiers so that individuals can take an issue further if they are not happy with the outcome. As part of managing a workforce, you should ensure that all employees are aware of the process and possible outcomes of complaints. It is also a good idea to regularly review it with feedback from your employees. 

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