A is the founder of a small company. He has about 150 employees in 3 cities. As the CEO, A takes particular care in building an inclusive culture. He specifically recruits a diverse team and works hard at creating a supportive environment. But he realizes there is something missing.
- In team meetings, all do not participate.
- Micro groups of similar people are formed.
- Bias and micro aggression sneaks into conversations.
- Expectations from a few are very high and low from few others. Lower expectations negatively influence their performance.
Do these problems sound familiar?
Let us add more employees, a lot more. Is your Organization large?
Let’s spread the wings to a few countries. Do you work in an MNC?
Add in technology, intelligence that is artificial and compassion that is coded. Does your work revolve around long distance conferences, calls and digital communication?
And yes, we have 4 -5 generations of people working together. People who started working before computers came to this year’s fresher who was born in the internet era, the workforce will show the generational gap.
As leaders you will be shocked to know the amount of resources that are left untapped and the number of undiscovered ideas out there just because a few in your team feel excluded in the conversations.
Now let us figure out inclusive conversations
What is inclusive conversation?
Inclusive conversation means having a talk in such a way that everyone understands, feels free to express themselves and accepts the differences in people. This sounds easy but is not. The most common misconception in inclusive workforce is the illusion that having a diverse workforce will automatically mean inclusive work culture.
It is an acknowledged fact that inclusive teams perform better. They are happy, more creative and productive and contribute to the general well balanced culture.
Then why does inclusivity become difficult?
- The answer is our bias. It is human nature to gravitate towards people who look, talk and behave like us. With all the efforts put in diversity, the bias only makes micro groups of similar people. So our differences become barriers instead of the assets they truly are.
- The next reason is being socially naive to other’s views or culture. This creates a sense of apathy towards others’ point of view and conversations can turn sour.
- The most important reason today is the complete lack of face to face conversations and relying on digital conversations.
How you converse is important. Businesses grow strategically; so should conversations. Have a plan, stay away from biases and consciously bring inclusivity in every conversation. Here are 3 ways you can do them
- Encourage more face to face conversations. Move out of the cabin to speak with your team, go out for team lunches. The importance of actual human contact cannot be emphasized enough. Empathy that builds with eye contact and body language cannot be matched with advances in technology.
- Create a culture of social curiosity. Create diverse teams and encourage candid conversations that are built on curiosity. Become aware of differences and respect them.
- Encourage everyone in the team. Delegate responsibilities so that every team member feels he is important. Lower expectations negatively affect performance. Ensure everyone feels he is contributing his best.
What steps do you take to have inclusive conversations? Share your thoughts, stories and even struggles in the comments below. Every conversation contributes to the collective intellect.