Diversity is a great blessing, but it does take conscious continuous effort to make it a positive in the work setting. Just taking a look around, you will likely see that your employees come from a wide range of different backgrounds. For the first time, there are 5 generations in the workplace creating many new challenges. As business leaders, it is imperative to empower your team to recognize and respect this inherent diversity. Developing an understanding of how each person can best leverage their unique knowledge and skills toward achieving the organizational goals of your work environment involves shifting your perspective to focus on each individual’s body of work and empowering them to tap into it naturally.
Most important is to keep an open ear and mind. With more diversity, comes diversity of thought. By asking questions, you may find that your team has the capacity to find different ways to solve the same problem. By making a greater effort to embrace collaboration, it makes for a much stronger team and company.
In many industries, workers are facing significant changes in their job roles as market forces impact their career path. This rapid change may cause employees to feel lost at work, not knowing if they still serve a purpose within the business. While this can sap motivation and impede a person’s ability to adapt to a new role, engaging with these employees to develop a thorough understanding of the experience they bring to the table and coming up with creative ways to use it in your organization can help with the transition.
Demonstrating an interest in the past work experience of your employees makes them feel as though they are bringing value to the new role with their professional background. Always try to cultivate an environment where the communication channels between employees and management are open to allow you to draw meaningful connections between their past roles and their current role. Openly encouraging employees to leverage their past experience will lead to increased confidence in their abilities and ultimately greater profitability and efficiency in the organization. Make the effort, create a bridge for your employees to grow with your company.
Leveraging the Past for the Future
Additionally, the work experience that your employees are bringing to the table will often come from a variety of different industries, some of which may be based on entirely different workplace expectations and cultures. For example, a professional whose past work is comprised mostly of roles in the private industry will have different expectations about work culture than someone who has the majority of their experience with government or non-profit roles.
This can cause communication breakdowns or friction between different working teams, as some employees may be unconsciously carrying the expectations of their previous roles into the new one, possibly stepping outside the boundaries of their new position. The onus is on management to ensure that those boundaries are well-defined and that the objectives of each team are clear to everyone involved. Emphasizing the significance of each team’s task to the business operation as a whole demonstrates to your employees that the work is worthy of their efforts, and clearly defining each team’s objective reduces the chance of anyone overstepping their boundaries.
Understanding the backgrounds and varying expectations and motivations of your employees is a critical component of defining what sort of workplace culture is the best fit for your team. The better you understand where the perspectives of your team members are coming from, the easier it will be to cultivate an environment that allows them to leverage their expertise and share it with others to produce creative and innovative results for your business. Always take proactive steps to strengthen your own workplace culture by sharing the main tenets with you employees, old and new.
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