How To Lead Diverse Teams At Work

How To Lead Diverse Teams At Work image DATE: February 21, 2020

Incredible leaders of diverse teams at work need to understand the stories from their people, not just the statistics about them. There are answers in their stories that you’ll never get from statistics alone. Let’s dig into the information you need to make the best decisions when it comes to engaging your people.

How To Lead Diverse Teams At Work

I work with new leaders to develop them to achieve higher performance through education and training. During a session this week, the conversation turned in a direction I wasn’t planning for — but I’m glad it did!

A leader in the room raised their hand and said something to the extent of I have some employees that don’t like having conversations with people. That’s a generational problem, right?

The leader wasn’t wrong, but they weren’t right either.

With the most diverse workforce to date, understanding your people in a way that will help you lead them to achieve the best results is not easy. What is easy…is not gathering information from all the right sources and assuming or predicting incorrect root causes of issues.

Science Gives You A Starting Point

It’s very common for assumptions to be made about people. How could you not?! Everywhere you turn headlines are screaming information at you about your employees from work schedule preferences to communication preferences,  etc.

Research conducted on people can be extremely helpful in creating a solid starting point for leaders. The results can help you better recruit, assign roles, and establish a baseline for leadership within the organization.

However, when it comes to your employees, that same research can lead you the wrong way fast.

Science May Give You Incorrect Information

Here’s one example: Let’s say your organization does some form of personality testing to determine what position a person is best suited for. The results come back and say that Craig has a rugged personality and prefers to work independently.

Instead of placing Craig in a public-facing leadership role, you decide the best fit for him would be a role where he could work more independently and under a leader with a blunt communication style.

Six months into the newly assigned role that seemed perfect for Craig — he quits. Why? Because Craig answered the questions on the personality test based on his default. The test couldn’t tell you that Craig has learned, despite his default and through his experiences, to work best with others and under a very gentle leader.

Craig left your company to find a position where he could work closely on a team under a very gentle leader.

At this new company, Craig is killing it in every way! You missed out on a high performing employee because you only knew what statistics could tell you about Craig, not the real stories that have shaped Craig.

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Stories Give Accurate Clarity

More than ever before, incredible leaders need to understand the stories from their people, not just the statistics about them. There are answers in their stories that you’ll never get from statistics alone.

Research may have you believe that many young people don’t prefer face-to-face communication. However, you might be hiring a 21-year old that prefers face-to-face communication over any technological option. If you operate off of the statistics you’ve read, without learning about your people individually, then you potentially risk losing very high performing employees.

Statistics may have you believe that older generations prefer to work very independently. If you avoid working with them on projects because you think they want to work alone, you risk losing the opportunity to learn from them and help fulfill their desire to teach young leaders.

Research may have you believe that your Millennial candidate is entitled, but they’ve been the person who worked to raise themselves from the time they were a child.

Stories Can Be Hard to Learn

People are shaped by their experiences, regardless of what the statistical majority says a person should be like. This is why learning the real stories about your people is so important. You need to learn where they came from, how they were raised, nitty-gritty stories about their daily work-life experiences. But that can be difficult, right?

In order to learn those stories about your people, they have to trust you enough to open up and you have to put in the time and effort to listen and dissect what you learn. That’s not easy, but it is necessary if you want to learn how to motivate, engage, and ultimately lead your people to greater success.

Leaders of Diverse Teams At Work Need to Understand Statistics & Stories

Understanding the value of BOTH statistics and stories is the first step to action that leads to improved leadership results. Think about this today:

1. Can you block off more time on your calendar to spend with your employees in order to build trust and learn more about them individually? It may prove extremely valuable when it comes to employee retention issues!

2. What stories do you have about yourself that would help your employees understand and work with you better? It only takes one story to start breaking down walls and ceilings!

Leading today’s diverse teams at work may be more difficult than ever. Stories unlock answers for leading the best way. I can’t wait to hear how you use both science and stories to improve your leadership!

Need help leading diverse teams at work? I can help! Let’s talk!

#diversity #diverseteams #diverseworkforce #generations #ethnicities #geography #personalitytests #sciencebasedleadership #practicalleadership #greatleadership #futureofleadership


Alyson Van Hooser

About The Author:

Alyson Van Hooser, Leadership Keynote Speaker, Trainer on Millennials, Gen Z & Women in Business With the grit that only comes from tough experiences, Alyson has learned a thing or two about personal and professional success. From her management experience with Walmart, as an elected city council member, bank manager — all before the age of 30 — Alyson has wisdom well beyond her years! Her podcast, Stake: The Leadership Podcast, offers a fresh perspective on leadership and helps multiple generations successfully work together! Connect with Alyson on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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