Diverse Teams Produce Better results If Well Led

Globalization has eased the mass migration of people from across the world in the pursuit of jobs and other businesses. As a result the world has turned into a global village where you find people of different cultures working under same roof. Diversity has never been recognised so widely in past as it is now. Today’s corporations are structured in a way wherein the groups are expected to find solutions to the most complex business issues. These groups tend to be quite diverse in nature and bring in all sorts of ideas and innovations into business mainstream.

“Diversity is about differences in ethnic origin, age, gender, disability, family status, education, social or cultural backgrounds – in fact anything which may affect workplace relationships and achievements” (Mullins, 2013). Managing a diverse team is of the main challenges which a typical manager faces in the finance industry. Dan Tennebaum , Managing Director of India Capital as quoted by Dorie Clark gives a good reasoning behind employing a diverse team. He says that “What we’ve tried to do is to give ourselves as many angles as possible to look out at a company” (Clark, 2012). This shows the various levels of thinking, ideas and innovations attached to a diverse team. This gives a good boost to the productivity and enhancement of various financial services.

As every aspect has its pros and cons, so is the case with diverse teams. Tennebaum as quoted by Clark says that “There are a diversity of opinions, and sometimes there are ten different answers to a simple question. There can even be simple cultural misunderstandings.” (Clark, 2012). In most cases noticed by researchers, different types of diversity create varied types of conflicts which leave a huge dent on the team’s performance. As noted by a renowned academician Margaret Neale, “The kind of group conflict that exists and how the team handles the conflict will determine whether this diversity is effective in increasing or reducing performance.” (Unknown,1999).  She further stresses that in most cases “Diversity creates social divisions, which in turn create negative performance outcomes for the group.” (Elizabeth Mannix, 2005).  Further research shows that goals and value based diversity is among the most destructive, even more than the demographic one which was previously presumed.

A manger can prove to be quite instrumental in utilizing the assets of his team. A proper leadership style could suppress conflicts arising within the teams over petty issues. A manager has the same role as a captain of the ship who is in charge of steering his ship from any mishap. It is the duty of a manager to understand the personality of all his team mates and assign them work in which they are productive of. Interference should be minimized at the first step in order to reduce any arising conflicts.

 

One of the important theories to look upon as a manager is that of Professor Geert Hofstede. He says that “Culture is the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from others” (Hofstede, 2013). His research encompasses more than hundred thousand employees from 40 countries and concluded his model after forming four groups.

In order to successfully manage a diverse team, a manager is supposed to follow some key steps as stressed by Ebokosia.

  •          “Managers need to adjust their management and coaching style to work with different employees.” (Ebokosia, 2012).
  •           Managers also need to custom their leadership style based upon the individual’s personality. This can be illustrated by a following quote “One shoe doesn’t fit all.”
  •          Be a good listener. A good manager is one who first listens, understands and tries to find a way out. An authoritarian manager can never lead any team successfully.
  •          Engage low performers. A good manager should understand that not all employees are of the same calibre. One should boost the morale of low performers by giving good feedback, seeking out solutions together, etc. (Ebokosia, 2012).

 

On a concluding note, I would like to stress that diverse teams in an organisation can prove to be an asset provided they are lead by an able leader. Diverse teams if well lead can boost the productivity of an organisation. On the other hand they can even prove to be quite disastrous due to arising conflicts and problems. Due to the sensitivity of the finance sector, a manager is expected to take his team along towards a common goal thereby avoiding any catastrophic consequences.

 

References:

Clark, D. (2012) Want Better Results ? Hire a Diverse Team, 08 Oct, [Online], Available: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorieclark/2012/08/10/want-better-results-hire-a-diverse-team/ [2014].

 

Ebokosia, A.A. (2012) Multiple Personalities: How to lead a Diverse Team to a Common Goal, 10 Oct, [Online], Available: http://www.blackenterprise.com/career/leadership-strategy-diverse-teams/ [2014].

 

Elizabeth Mannix, M.A.N. (2005) ‘Sage journals’, What Differences make a Difference ?, vol. 6, Oct, Available: http://psi.sagepub.com/content/6/2/31.abstract [2014].

Hofstede (2013) National Cultural Dimensions, [Online], Available: http://geert-hofstede.com/national-culture.html [2014].

 

Mullins, L.J. (2013) Management & Organisational Behaviour, 10th edition, Harlow: Pearson Education.

 

Unknown (1999) Diversity and Work Group Performance, 1 Nov, [Online], Available: http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/diversity-work-group-performance [2014].

 

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Diverse Teams Produce Better results If Well Led

  1. The blog is very well written and both the outcomes (positive and negative) of diverse teams are very well explored. I feel that its not the diversity of the teams that guarantees positive outcomes but the way they are led!

  2. Very well thought out article, I am in a better position to appreciate the multicultural and diverse organizational performance if led well as I belong to a multilateral development institution with over people from 80 different countries work under one roof and yet able to achieve higher expectations if managed and led properly. The Pro’s and Con’s highlighted in this article has approached this subjective matter in an unbiased manner.

    The key steps which needs to be followed are practical examples for every manager to take heed of and it should enable him to get the most out his diverse team.

  3. Thanks Khan. As a member of a multilateral organisation, I am sure that you get first hands on experience of working in a diverse team. Do you would have some more aspects to share on which I can throw light upon ?

  4. To lead a diverse team, the manager needs to accept the diversity first. As mentioned by you, a successful organization needs an able leader to handle the diverse working force. Working in a diverse environment should help people clear out the prejudices and assumptions that they might have against others from different cultures. Diversity should bring people together, and not create differences among them.

  5. Thanks Moeed. The whole aspect about the productivity of diverse teams comes down to how well the team is lead. I agree with the fact that a successful organization needs an able leader to handle the diverse working force.

  6. great job Muneeb, Hofstede is quite a very useful argument to draw upon on issues like this. well done for making the topic interesting.

  7. Thanks Roland. Professor Geert Hofstede has contributed immensely in the field of culture and work ethics. His model is worthwhile in incorporating when discussing such issues related to diversity.

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