When a team works together it works well. When employees work against each other, mistrust or carry bias, they struggle to reach a shared goal of success. The key to having a workforce that pulls together as a team is inclusion.
If it seems as though the only thing your staff has in common is who signs their paycheck, you may be experiencing implicit bias (also known as unconscious bias) in your workforce. Implicit bias is an attitude we carry without awareness or conscious direction. We all have biases, whether we admit to them or not. As children, we gravitated toward those like us – the “girls on one side, boys on the other” mentality. These feelings can be so deep-rooted we are not even aware of them.
Implicit bias isn’t consciously held. While not actively separating from others, something keeps us from reaching out. Implicit bias works against the bottom line. When employees don’t see themselves as equals, whatever their role in the company, the road to success is rocky. The key to developing a strong team is an inclusive workforce; to recognize that we all have biases, and we can overcome them.
How to create that workforce that pulls together rather than apart? Instead of just trying to overcome hidden biases, look for common ground. Develop an atmosphere of inclusion that seeks and builds on commonality, rather than focusing on differences.
Your staff is more alike than different. They all work for the same company, and while they may have divergent roles, their common goal is success Build on that with opportunities for inclusion among diverse staff members. As Dr. Sondra Thiederman pointed out in our recent webinar, you can create goal-oriented teams, open opportunities for dialog, even encourage support groups and clubs within the organization.
You can orchestrate openings for “kinship groups:” groups that share characteristics or goals. Those kinship opportunities will open dialog, and give staffers a chance to find common ground. Once the door to commonality is open, the team can work together.
If you encourage staff to meet weekly or monthly for “clubs” like working parents, or chess enthusiasts, you’ll find a broad range of staff self-include. This step will take them on the road to kinship groups. More structured activities, such as goal-driven work teams can also lead the way to kinship.
When employers open up the doors to these opportunities, employees typically find their own paths to kinship. Their proximity to one another leads to dialog, which often leads to common ground. The key is giving diverse staff the opportunity to open the lines of communication: when dialog begins, inclusion typically follows.
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