Purposeful Diversity in the Workplace

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Back in 2017, our Founder & CEO, Chris Motley shared his thoughts on holistic diversity as a guest writer for Culturati Magazine:

A diverse company shouldn’t be diverse simply for the sake of diversity. A company’s diversity contributes to its overall success. To succeed is to innovate, and to be truly innovative, companies need clear perspectives from a variety of voices. (See full article here to read Chris’ tips for creating a holistically diverse culture.)

In this article, we’ll discuss how team leaders can increase team productivity with a ‘variety of voices.’

We’ve decided to break this down into 6 sections:

  1. Diversity is fine. Goal-oriented diversity is better. Explores why it’s important to diversify the right attributes in a team. 
  2. You can’t diversify what you haven’t measured. Delivers a high-level framework of the 9 career value archetypes that help people understand the attributes that make them productive. 
  3. A Diversified MAP = Productive Diversity in the Workplace Provides an example of how diversifying the right attributes improves team performance. 
  4. Diversity in the workplace will die on the vine if… Discusses how diversifying the right attributes within a team is necessary for sustainable diversity in the workplace. 
  5. Leaders lead people; not tasks; not results. A quick Leadership 101 reminder about what matters most when trying to drive team success. 
  6. In conclusion…

Enjoy!

1) Diversity is fine. Goal-oriented diversity is better.

Corporate teams tend to report diversity in the workplace with demographic attributes:

  • ethnicity
  • sexual orientation
  • socio-economic background
  • age

While demographic attributes make it easy to identify the variety of a group, they shouldn’t be considered qualifiers for labeling a team any more effective at getting the job done. Demographic attributes have no bearing on job performance or role fit, but these do:

  • professional values
  • soft skills
  • hard skills
  • personality traits
  • workplace culture preferences

To get the most out of your team, your definition of ‘variety’ must be applicable to the goal at hand. Scientifically validated data shows that having a variety of motivations, abilities, and personality traits (or MAP) actually leads to improved team performance.

Leaders can create more team synergy by aiming for a diversity of skills, core values, workplace culture preferences, and personality type on their teams. Diversity is fine, but goal-oriented diversity is better.

Red, yellow, and blue can create 12 million colors. An individual’s MAP opens the door for thousands of team-building combinations.

2) You can’t diversify what you haven’t measured.

Just as red, yellow, and blue can be combined to create 12 million different colors, an individual’s MAP opens the door for thousands of team building combinations. Only a system that considers and converges on the three dimensions of an individual – motivations, abilities, and personality – will ensure that leaders can build diversity in the workplace through roles and teams that properly leverage an individual’s strengths and sense of purpose.

Leaders must be able to build teams with the right diversity of motivations, abilities, and personality traits contributed by each team member.

Utilizing a set of nine Career Value Archetypes (CVAs), leaders can make sense of each team member’s unique MAP:

Taken individually, these archetypes describe elements of behaviors, attitudes, and thoughts. However, when combined, they describe types and classes of people and constellations of behaviors, attitudes, and thoughts.

These archetypes (or professional values) make it possible to measure how an individual’s MAP manifests itself in specific roles. Ultimately, the success of any team requires that people are fulfilled and productive. To accomplish that, leaders must be able to build teams with the right diversity of motivations, abilities, and personality traits contributed by each team member.

You can’t diversify what you haven’t measured. Purposeful diversity in the workplace measures and diversifies the attributes that correlate to an individual’s fit and long-term success with the company.

3) A Diversified MAP = Productive Diversity in the Workplace

Three primary colors blending together can yield twelve million different colors. In the same way, the nine CVAs can be blended together to yield thousands of productive teammate combinations.

Figuring out the right combination of people for your team quickly becomes a guessing game that nobody wins. There are simply too many variables to leave your management decisions to a gut feeling.

Each person expresses all nine CVAs at varying degrees. Based on an individual’s MAP, leaders can identify the three most dominant, the three neutral, and the three least dominant. When this individualized data is applied on the aggregate for an entire team, leaders can then begin building teams of people where the dominant values are diversified in a productive manner.

For example, let’s say you lead a team where the dominant value is Getting Things Done.

In this case, your team possesses a natural drive to get results. As a leader, you would notice that a good portion of your team is motivated by the challenge of hard work and that they possess a determination to get things done. Generally speaking, when there’s a deadline, your team will do whatever it takes to succeed. Managing this team requires that you pay extra attention to keeping your team focused on the right daily activities. Keeping your team accountable to the strategy is critical to making sure that your “doers” are doing an activity that is aligned to stated company goals.

When it comes to diversifying the team, there are two types of people that tend to work very well with go-getters: people who like to help others, and people who like to solve complex problems.

People who like to help others are going to complement your go-getters because they are service oriented and tend to respond well to fast-paced requests. Put them on small task forces together to provide top tier customer service experiences or to consider new ways to engage the broader audience.

People who like to solve complex problems are going to find a meaningful problem or challenge for your go-getters to tackle. This plays out nicely when it comes to understanding a customer’s unique circumstances or building a comprehensive thought-leadership campaign. The combination of drive and curiosity also tends to serve the business well in a highly innovative environment.

Moral of the story: When you understand the motivations, abilities, and personality traits of your team, you can make data-driven decisions about what new attributes should be added to the team to help it achieve new levels of success.

4) Diversity in the workplace will die on the vine if…

… team leaders aren’t acutely aware of each person’s MAP and can create productive combinations from those diversified attributes.

At the individual level, there are thousands of combinations of motivations, abilities, and personality traits that can define a person’s professional values and project their career value archetype. Multiply that by the number of people on your team, and figuring out the right combination of people for your team quickly becomes a guessing game that nobody wins. There are simply too many variables to leave your management decisions to a gut feeling.

Not knowing what motivates your people to leverage their abilities and personality traits for the common good of the company is leadership negligence.

Whether you’ve taken the time to measure the motivations, abilities, and personality traits of your team members or not, doesn’t change the fact that those attributes are the DNA of your team. Leaders are set apart from the team not to command from on high, but to better understand what makes their people tick and how to put each person in the best possible position to succeed.

Any corporate initiative must ultimately prove how the company benefits from investing in it. Until the scope of diversity & inclusion is focused on personal attributes that propel the company forward, diversity in the workplace will continue to play second fiddle to profit-generating initiatives.

5) Leaders lead people; not tasks; not results.

In 2016, Chief Leadership Officer published a report called ‘What Does Effective Leadership Mean?’, where Robert Anderson and William Adams explain that the data tells us ‘something we should already know.’

We concluded that these strengths [networking, domain/technical knowledge, intellectual brilliance, personal creative capability and a focus on results] are all necessary to get into senior leadership positions. These strengths are foundational and essential, but they are not leadership. If a leader bases their leadership on these [non-differential]strengths and tries to drive results [with them], they’re not really leading.

What did make the biggest difference in effective leadership was strong people and relationships capability. This may sound basic, but the data strongly supports what we should already know: Leadership is all about people. Leaders lead people. They do not lead tasks or results. They lead people to accomplish tasks and get results.

Not knowing what motivates your people to leverage their abilities and personality traits for the common good of the company is leadership negligence. In this information-rich era, leaders don’t get to rely on ignorance as a crutch-excuse when goals aren’t met.

6) In conclusion….

Mixing every color on the paint palette yields an unpleasant grayish-brown that dulls the vibrancy of each of the contributing colors. In the same way, diversifying team attributes that aren’t correlated to productivity can dull the strengths and motivations that drive your people to perform  at their best. Diversity in the workplace must be purposeful.