December 21, 2016 | Written by: Erika Riehle
Categorized: Collaboration | Employee Engagement
Share this post:
Two Requirements to Helping Diverse Teams Collaborate Successfully
Most of us spend a majority of our time interacting with others at work. We brainstorm, share, connect and build together. Regardless of the size or the roles represented, today’s teams often boast a diversity of gender, race, age, location, skill level or role.
Though diverse teams can present unique challenges, we know they perform better. According to Harvard Business Review, “Most leaders now recognize that the best teams leverage diversity to achieve long-term success.” Diversity brings different backgrounds and different perspectives to the table, requiring team members to think outside their own experience and see someone else’s point of view. And that process fuels the discussion and debate that drive innovation—benefitting the team and the organization.
But successful diversity goes beyond the inherent (e.g., race, gender) and acquired (experience, cultural background) attributes of team members. Consider the importance of work style—the way that individuals approach and execute their work.
Some people are strategic thinkers, focused on the big picture and ideas. Others are natural planners, excelling at organization and details. Some people prefer to collaborate together; others prefer to take turns adding their feedback on projects. To help diverse teams succeed, you need tools that deliver in two key ways:
- Tools that enable individuals to work the way they prefer and perform best.
- Tools that interoperate seamlessly to streamline digital collaboration.
Empower team members to work the way they want.
We classify people by the way they organize and interact all the time. “Type A” or “Type B.” Auditory or visual. Left-brain versus right-brain. They are all ways for us to quickly identify how someone prefers to work and interact. We know that there are team members who prefer to review content they can see, versus a verbal discussion during meetings. There are people who prefer to work together face to face, and others who like to work solo until they have completed a task. Some people make lists and some take on activities as they are presented with them. Regardless of what collaboration solution your team uses, it has to be capable of meeting the needs and accommodating the work styles of everyone on your team. It needs to have project management, file editing and version control, information sharing, news broadcasting and dynamic meetings that allow for video and screen sharing. All these features provide flexibility and choice for your diverse team, within an enterprise-class, secure environment.
Provide seamless interoperability so teams can focus on the work.
If you don’t provide the tools that help your team work the way they want to, they will find tools on their own. Often when that happens, those unprovisioned tools may solve individual problems, but don’t impact collaboration holistically. They cause friction as team members search multiple locations for files and information updates. Managers can alleviate this friction by providing teams with suites that allow them to choose how to engage without breaking information into silos.
To enable your team to succeed, ensure they have applications that bridge work styles rather than promote individual types. Successful teams share and interact using applications that are flexible and comfortable. View this infographic to see how a cross-functional team works with different applications on a holistic collaboration platform.