Don’t Dull your Senses to Diversity

Don’t Dull your Senses to Diversity

Don’t Dull your Senses to Diversity

Best-selling author and communications expert, Kelly McDonald, will be joining us on March 19th with her dynamic presentation “How to Lead People Not Like You.” This dovetails nicely with our recent blog about diversity (you can check it out here).  And while we don’t want to give anything away we do want to delve a little deeper into diversity and offer some practical advice for leaders who may be lucky enough to have a diverse team.

Recognize

Have you ever heard someone say “I don’t see color” when talking about race?  While the sentiment is well-meant it is a little tone deaf.  Don’t turn off your senses around diversity. Seeing race and gender and age is necessary to the process. And all the differences that make us great. Your first step could be opening your eyes and seeing and appreciating what is in front of you.

Ask and Listen

Don’t assume that your diverse team needs all the same things or communicates in the same way.  Ask how they prefer to communicate, ask how they would best like to contribute and listen to what they say.  A more seasoned employee may have some ideas different than a first-job-out-of-school team member, but you won’t know until you ask. And while you may not be able to satisfy every request, you will be on your way to a healthy compromise and your team will feel heard and valued.

Look Inward

How do you feel about your diverse team?  You need to answer this honestly and move forward from there.  As McDonald notes you’re not automatically a sexist or a racist or ageist if you’re struggling. If you are asking the question you are open to growth and that is an important step. From there you should work to recognize the value each person brings. Don’t minimize a difference because it makes it easier to deal with.  Find the value in what diversity brings. It bears repeating that diversity can also feed innovation.

Troubleshooting and Damage Control

In a sea of difference there is bound to be friction.  At some point you will likely have to deal with a comment or behavior that doesn’t align with your company’s values and without exception you will have to address it.  Correction and discipline should follow your company guidelines, but attitude is all you.  Make sure your team understands why this is not acceptable, share your plan to avoid future missteps and keep communication open.  Refocus and move on swiftly. Don’t let your team dwell in this drama.

Find a Good Example

Do you have a mentor you can turn to? Is there another leader who is crushing their diversity game?  Take a lesson from sources that are working well. Ask questions and seek help.  In most cases those that are successful in this regard will be eager to share their methods.

Still struggling?  Join us on March 19th and hear more from Kelly McDonald. And we’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts, success stories and questions with us here.

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