Diversity of thought is the concept that people think differently based on a number of factors, such as their personality, culture, and experience. In some cases, it’s quite easy to see the striking differences in how people solve problems. For example, you might have one employee who comes up with expansive concepts while another is detail oriented. Which is the more valuable team member?
In reality, they’re both invaluable. If given the same problem, both could come up with vastly different solutions that are feasible. When you honor diversity of thought in the workplace, you intentionally bring differing styles together for the betterment of the organization. Many leaders understand this and see the benefit, but creating an environment which draws in people of different backgrounds and recognizes the contributions each member makes requires mindful strategy and follow-through. We’ve gathered a few hacks to help you create a stronger team by leveraging diversity of thought.
Identify and Fill Skill Gaps, Not Positions
Many organizations specifically target the most qualified candidate across the board when hiring. It sounds good in theory—to have the best of the best. Similarities among employees can also make the team easier to manage. However, organizations that hire this way missed out on thought diversity because all their employees are the same. A better method is to identify which skills are missing from the team and find candidates who have those skills, even if the individual is not the most skilled overall.
It’s in our nature as HR professionals and as leaders to avoid conflict. We want our team to get along well, and because of this, we sometimes become quite skilled at putting out fires before they start. For example, if during a meeting about the budget, an employee remarks that the IT department could possibly do with less funding, some leaders would try to nip this in the bud; not because it’s a bad idea, but because the IT department is in the room and the tension could be cut with a knife. In reality, allowing things like this to play out in a respectful way is beneficial. The IT department could express how their budget is spent and the employee who suggested cuts may have a new-found appreciation for the department. Additional team members may start pitching other viable solutions, resulting in a final workable idea. In these situations, disagreements and conflict are ok and can lead to a stronger team.
Some organizations go the extra mile and create mentorship programs. These are designed to help newcomers learn the ropes or give those interested in leadership an opportunity to grow. The problem is most link people who are alike. For example, a young employee entering the workforce will likely be drawn to someone close to his age; perhaps someone with similar life experience and interests. This is natural, but if the newcomer is paired with his peer, he won’t develop as much. It would serve the company better to pair him with a seasoned employee—someone who knows the ropes but perhaps could benefit from being around someone with fresh eyes and an affinity for technology.
Improve Your Thought Diversity with D&I Tools
At the HR Source, we offer Diversity and Inclusion tools that can help your organization become more diverse, keep your talent happy, and thrive. To learn more, book a free diversity and inclusion consultation today.