What does Diversity mean in relation to managing performance?

How to create more diverse organisations, with a more diverse leadership, is a key concern of many in HR right now.

Organisations have paid less attention to helping managers manage diverse teams – both formally and informally.  Here are some thoughts you might like to explore with colleagues.

One of the big benefits of increasing diversity should be to have a wider range of experience and thinking to bring to bear on the challenges you face.  But if a team is not comfortable ‘speaking up’, or don’t feel they will be listened to even if they do make suggestions, then the organisation and the manager will lose out on this important topic.

The technical term for ensuring people feel able to speak up is known as ‘psychological safety’.  At 3C, we paraphrase this into ensuring everyone in a team feels safe, respected and accepted.   Google has done much work exploring psychological safety within its workforce, and concluded that it is the most important factor in building high performing teams.   Not every organisation is like Google of course, but it seems intuitively true that if people don’t feel safe, respected and accepted, they are unlikely to be delivering their best work.

The implication for organisations is that simply improving diversity at the point of recruitment will not deliver a genuinely diverse workforce unless there is sufficient psychological safety for everyone to contribute effectively.

For managers, this means at the very least: listening to all voices, encouraging dialogue that explores issues from multiple perspectives and accepting challenges to the ‘status quo’.