Diversity , Understanding Differences
For my third entry on diversity, I want to address the importance of understanding differences in the workplace. Individual personalities are complex and certainly diverse, and these differences can have a tremendous impact within an organization. I’m talking specifically about behavior and communication styles.
Think about how these differences impact our actions. They affect the way we view and act in relationships, the way we learn, the way we communicate. They even influence our choice of career.
Within the workplace, our differences can impact:
- Problem solving and decision making
- Handling conflict
- Planning and setting goals
- Managing and/or implementing change
- Dealing with stress
- Building a team
- Leading a team
The list goes on. Each of these elements can be impacted positively or negatively, depending on our level of awareness concerning the differences and how we deal with them. For example, an organization could be crippled by an inability to effectively handle conflict. But the same organization, with a process in place for managing conflict and reaching consensus, could use the same diversity to come up with a huge range of ideas, plans or solutions.
When dealing with differences in the workplace:
- Show a genuine interest in others- ask them questions and learn about their preferences
- Respect other’s rights to be different - you can respect without agreeing
- Reserve judgment – make sure you don’t stereotype
- Don’t be intimidated by or afraid of differences
Many of us have participated in “personality” or “behavioral” assessments in the workplace. In fact, ATC regularly uses these assessments with our customers. These tools, when properly administered, can be valuable in helping identify the behavioral preferences or styles that make up a work team. Additionally, when teams invest in learning more about behavioral diversity, they can better interact with coworkers, partners and customers.
Imagine your team as a jigsaw puzzle. Some team members are curved, some jagged, some turned inward, some outward. Each brings different qualities and different contributions. Ideally, each are working to fit in and working toward the team’s goals. What a great analogy for the power of diversity! We’re all different, but we’re all needed to complete the picture.
Many thanks for your interest,
Angela Gallogly, ATC Vice President of USA Operations