A company having a diverse workforce with different backgrounds is always tricky to manage. However, it is the responsibility of a manager to ensure that every member of the team is working as productively as they possibly can, even if that means taking the time to understand each person.
The most effective teams are created when a manager is aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each employee, knows how to make the most of each person’s special skills, and promotes teamwork.
Organizations can find novel ideas and make wise business judgments with the aid of a varied team and a good leader. In fact, finding employees with diverse backgrounds and skills might be advantageous for your company.
Each employee has different motivations and skills. Smart managers are those who can adjust their management style to bring out the best in each one.
Having said that, here are the best practices to help your diverse organization succeed and keep your employees happy.
1. Create open lines of communication
Synchronous communication is key to any team’s success. The best teams work together to productively communicate their ideas, feelings, and emotions.
If you have a diverse group of people on your team who belong to different cultures and backgrounds, it can be difficult for them to communicate effectively with each other.
One way you can foster communication is by leveraging different communication channels, such as small group meetings, one-on-one meetings, video conferencing, instant messaging, and email, to name a few.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to communication. Everyone has different ways of expressing themselves; what works for one person might not work for others. So it is vital to provide a combination of channels to help meet the unique needs of your team.
To do this, consider incorporating team collaboration tools that allow remote team members to access the same information simultaneously. The last thing you want is for team members to feel excluded by working remotely and missing out on the direct face-to-face interaction with one another.
To help increase the effectiveness of remote team meetings, dedicate a person to moderate or lead the conversation. This way employees won’t talk over each other or miss being heard until halfway through a conversation when someone finally starts asking questions.
Encourage open dialogue among team members, including everyone’s ideas and opinions. Make sure that the team has opportunities to discuss differences in opinion, especially when they’re from a different background.
If you’re not sure how to facilitate such discussions, consider using these questions:
- When do you feel most comfortable expressing yourself?
- What makes it difficult for you to speak up?
- What could help make speaking up easier for you?
When managing a team with diverse backgrounds, communication can be tricky. You want to make sure that everyone feels included, but at the same time, you want them to feel comfortable enough that they aren’t afraid to speak up if they think something isn’t right.
Communicate as much as possible to foster a positive work environment where everyone’s voice is heard, and their concerns are addressed.
2. Value their different experiences
Everyone brings a different perspective to the table. It’s important to value everyone’s diverse experiences, as each person has unique backgrounds that have shaped them into who they are today.
Recognizing and appreciating someone’s background helps them feel more comfortable being themselves around you—and this is essential for building trust and working together as a team.
It can be challenging to manage everyone’s differences of opinion or personalities if you work with people from different backgrounds.
However, if your team members feel respected and heard at all times, these cultural differences won’t affect their ability to work together. When all team members know they have an equal voice within the group dynamic and belong there, your entire organization benefits from this harmony between co-workers’ diverse backgrounds.
Diverse teams are more creative, make better decisions, and are more effective at problem-solving than homogenous ones.
Ensure your company values align with diversity and inclusion efforts to foster a comfortable environment at work. Respecting unique identities and personality traits goes a long way.
Samsara, a leader in the telematics industry, understands the value diversity brings to the workforce and openly shares its diversity goals leading into 2025.
They analyzed that the benefits of diversity extend beyond race and gender: diverse teams include people with different levels of experience, backgrounds, education levels, perspectives, and skills.
3. Give opportunities for collaboration
Collaboration is an excellent way for team members to learn from one another. If two people have different backgrounds and experiences, they can teach each other something new.
Collaboration can also help you get to know your teammates better. By working together on a project or activity, you’ll get an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about them—and they’ll do the same in return.
Team collaboration is also a great way to build trust within the group. People are more likely to open up when they know others support their ideas rather than being criticized or rejected outright.
Remember, not everyone communicates in the same way.
Some people are more comfortable speaking up in large groups, and others are only comfortable speaking up one-on-one. It’s good practice to ensure that you’re providing equal opportunity for everyone on your team to contribute ideas.
Consider establishing a data pipeline to make faster and wiser decisions about future team collaborations based on feedback. A data pipeline turns raw data into actionable deliverables to help you find new opportunities to manage your diverse team better.
Spend your time implementing improvements to team collaboration efforts rather than wasting time organizing and cleaning large volumes of data. Your team will be grateful to see their feedback in action.
4. Be upfront with your expectations
When managing a diverse team, everyone must understand their expectations. So make sure you’re clear about the team’s goals and objectives.
You should also be upfront about your expectations so that employees know what they can expect from you as a manager.
For example, a job role requires an employee to move cross-country rather than work remotely. Providing that information upfront is important before extending the job offer or promotion.
If you don’t clearly define expectations upfront, conflicts will undoubtedly arise when things don’t go according to plan and employees will feel like their opinion isn’t valued.
While it might seem obvious to set expectations, many managers don’t. It can lead to confusion and frustration on both sides.
To avoid confusion, ensure everyone knows their expectation at the beginning of any project or relationship. That way, you avoid dealing with issues later down the road.
5. Foster a culture of giving and receiving feedback
Feedback is necessary for your team to grow.
Giving your employees constructive criticism can be difficult when you’re a manager. It may be uncomfortable or stressful, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
In fact, the opposite: if you don’t provide feedback on their performance as an employee and coach them accordingly, they won’t understand how they can improve their work or potential for career growth.
Giving and receiving feedback is a two-way process between you and your employees. You should set aside time for both parties to reflect on what happened during the quarter to capitalize on strengths and understand areas for improvement.
Feedback helps ensure that everyone can get the most out of their experiences at work while also improving relationships within teams by being open about any issues that may arise.
6. Facilitate understanding through storytelling
The more we share, the more we understand each other and ourselves.
We can learn from one another’s experiences, both the good and the bad.
Sharing stories helps us relate to one another and understand where each person comes from, which can help us form deeper bonds of trust and respect as a team.
It also allows us to learn from our own experiences, which is why everyone in your organization needs to have opportunities to tell their stories.
As a manager, it’s your job to ensure that the rest of the group respects each team member. It doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree with one another’s opinions or preferences, but they will be able to voice those opinions without fear of being judged or attacked.
Some ways you can encourage respect:
- Encourage them to understand where others are coming from and why their opinions are valid
- Help them communicate clearly without judgment or aggression
- Model respectful behavior yourself to ensure ground rules and conditions the employees to practice the same
7. Celebrate team wins
When managing a team that includes people from different backgrounds, it’s essential to celebrate individual and group wins. A small win for one person can be a big win for another.
- Celebrate when someone gives their first presentation as part of the team
- Celebrate when anyone on your team meets a personal goal or accomplishes something that they are proud of
- Don’t forget about the “big” wins too. If the entire department completes something together (like finishing an important project), ensure each member gets recognition at least once in front of the whole company at some point during your celebration.
Managing a team with different cultures is not easy. It requires patience, sensitivity, and understanding. But it’s also an incredible opportunity to learn and discover new ways of doing things.
Being a manager is hard work; you have to balance your tasks while fostering a positive and productive team environment. It is extremely gratifying when everything runs smoothly.
The key to successfully managing a diverse team is adaptability, from collecting and implementing feedback to providing open communication channels and sharing a mutual respect for all team members.
In the comments below, share your go-to strategies for managing diverse teams. How do you overcome setbacks? What do you find most rewarding about being a manager?