Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Managing people diversity

I've talked some while ago about communication styles in different cultures - but diversity is still on top of my mind even if I speak about people grown in the same culture, working together to a common goal.

Looking at the big picture, you see a team performing at the highest levels. But when drilling down, even in the small teams you can find so many different personalities, so many views about the world or how things should go/be done which is still amazing. You will have a star, or at least someone believing to be a star, or going into that direction. You will have the quiet do-er, sometimes called the silent hero. You can also find the "always complaining", and hopefully you will have an always happy guy (annoying everybody else with a positive attitude).

It's a nice mix, and it's also a great challenge to have. But how do you get to have such a team? Would you like one? How would you manage it?

Well - getting it is really easy: you just hire good professionals that are NOT like you, but can still do a good job. We have a natural tendency to hire people that match our own style, and we do it even without knowing it. They are nice people (of course, because they are just like you), and you get along very well with them. But they will also have the same reactions as you in difficult situations, they will most probably have the same ideas with you, and you will find yourself stuck at times without any solution. Why? Because diversity will also bring a lot of benefits. I will write about them maybe later.

So you changed your recruitment style, and now you have a very diverse team. That you have to manage. Daily. In all situations. Even when you don't know what to do or how to react. And you learn to work with each of them: to smile to the happy guy, to congratulate (and calm down) the star, to push for more recognition of your silent hero... and get good results in all areas of your business, because the team is so diverse.

How do you work with your people? Do you have a project team, or a permanent team? Are there differences in the way you work with your project team?

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