“Research has consistently shown that diverse teams produce better results, provided they are well led. The ability to bring together people from different backgrounds, disciplines, cultures, and generations and leverage all they have to offer, therefore, is a must-have for leaders” (Ibarra and Hansen 2011: 71).
Diversity refers to human qualities that are different from our own, Dimensions of diversity include but are not limited to: age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities / qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, parental status, religious beliefs, work experience, and job classification (De Anza 2014). With increasing globalisation, many organisations face tougher competition at the same time they are working in a more complex environment.This leads to diverse teams becoming more common at all levels of the organisation(Financial Times 2014).To make a successful diverse teams, organisations are now required to manage diversity. Diversity management refers to the voluntary organizational actions that are designed to create greater inclusion of employees from various backgrounds into the formal and informal organizational structures through deliberate policies and programs.
Advantages and Challenges of Diverse Teams in Organisations
Businesses are recognizing the need and importance of investing in diversity and inclusion as part of their overall talent management practices and to continually challenge their organizations to make the connection between those principles and their corporate performance. For instance using Geert Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture, it explains how countries or people behave or act differently from others. Now having these people in one organisation working together as a team can sometimes be an issues but if managed well it can be an advantage to the organisation.
Diverse teams in business potentially result in increased creativity, increased productivity, new attitudes, new language skills, global understanding, new processes, variety of viewpoints and new solutions to difficult problems, (Andrade 2010). For instance Ford Company has been one of the world leaders in workplace diversity and inclusion, which has since remained the key business strategy of the company. Diverse teams are available in every level of the company’s operations, from the boardroom to the design studio, from the plant floors to the engineering centre; their diversity makes them a better and successful company. With this behaviour in their organisation diverse teams and team building has had major advantages to the company.
Although there are so many advantages, there have been a few challenges faced by many organisations when it comes to diverse workplace. Such challenges are; Conflict, Bureaucracy, Unproductive due to dissimilar interests, disunity, forming a structure and guideline for different religious groups, developing solutions and new strategies, it is also a challenge to be fair to all, etc. (Dike 2013).
The ability to manage a diverse team is the most important skill
Nowadays, with global businesses resulting to diverse work place, there are many talented people working together. Hence it is very essential for any multinational companies to actually manage diverse teams and make it one of their significant skills. A good example is Ford Company, they realised it needed to strategically and effectively manage the diverse workforce to enable its implementation continue to work to the company’s advantage. Ford therefore recognised some measures, which they thought would retain and also attract new diverse workforce and successful diversity implementation and management. It is the most important skill for Ford to manage diverse teams as they can deliver what our customers want and more over increase their success. The case for diversity is strong for Ford (Ford 2014).
Managers might use the knowledge of diverse teams to produce better results
Michael Pacanowsky, assistant professor at University of Utah, in 1980 he hypothesised that organisations are very diverse and difficult. To actually understand how a company functions, managers need to observe how the people in the organization act (Duggan 2014). Through observation, managers can exploit the talents of employees and teams to attain strategic objectives more successfully. Managing a diverse work population is a challenge; it is more than simply acknowledging differences in people. With the knowledge of diversity managers now take advantage in recognizing the value of differences, fighting discrimination and encouraging comprehensiveness in which in turn makes employee feel satisfied and belonging in the company and able to work with different teams.
A diverse workforce is a reflection of a changing world and marketplace. Diversity management benefits associates by creating a fair and safe environment where everyone has access to opportunities and challenges. Management tools in a diverse workforce should be used to educate everyone about diversity and its issues, including laws and regulations. Most workplaces are made up of diverse cultures, so organizations need to learn how to adapt to be successful.
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