A Balanced Team is a Better Team
Each year, we recognize groups who have been, in the past, marginalized: We honor Black History Month in February and in March, we celebrate women during International Women’s Day (March 8). This year, the International Women’s Day campaign cited its theme as “#BalanceForBetter” — an initiative for activism, collectivity, and collaboration. Buzzwords like “diverse” and “balanced” might casually be thrown around in a work setting, but are we just placating to politically correct ideas; or do these words actually matter? Does it improve productivity to have a diverse team? Well, as it turns out, yes; a balanced work team with people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences is good, not only for our humanity but for business, too. Here are three reasons why balance helps business.
Diversity offers new perspectives. When we only surround ourselves with people
who are like us, we tend to have a limited worldview. Diversity is more than just gender or race, it can be a difference in age, marital status, education, etc. Exposure to others who have a variety of perspectives and experience helps create empathy. For example, if you have employees from different generations: Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials—all who have different ideas and ways in which they experience the world, the only way to effectively confront and address conflicting feelings is to give these groups an opportunity to have a dialogue with one another. Conversations and sharing of experience help re-enforce mutual respect amongst employees regardless of what era they are from. Considering the ways in which your team differs, builds a broad perspective to help you reach your goals.
Balance equals a better bottom line. Companies with more diversity tend to be more financially successful. This is probably true for two key reasons. First, a company that hires those with various experiences can solve problems better because there are more people with different ideas trying to solve problems; it is crucial in business (and life) to have lots of converging minds coming from different angles. Secondly, a company with more diversity creates a more empowered environment. When employees see progress in the system, they are more apt to work towards innovative ideas and excited to work for a place that offers opportunities to a wide array of people. This creates more work satisfaction and employees may, in fact, be inspired to work harder. Empowerment creates an environment of teamwork and trust, which can be financially lucrative. What is good for humanity, can also be good for business.
Shifting demographics allows team leaders to play to team members’ strengths. On a team, it is vital that not everyone has the same skillset (or strengths and weaknesses). When a leader can play to his/her employees’ strengths, it can aid in quickly resolving a conflict. Conversely, when a leader can identify the weaknesses of his/her employees, poor time management and mismanaged delegation can be avoided. Not only does diversity help with conflict resolution, but a disruption in conformity guarantees that an employer will have a deep bench to pull from no matter what the next project might be. Having a diverse team can usually equate to a diverse range of skills, ideas, and strengths. The more diverse your team, the more versatile and operatively functional it stands to be.
Overall, we all benefit when we interact with people of different ages, races, creeds, religions, even political affiliations. And, recognizing and playing into our differences in a work setting only stands to increase productivity and understanding of a common goal. It is easy to think that we will be happy in an echo-chamber: a metaphorical place where our ideas and beliefs are re-enforced by those around us; a place where we never hear anyone with a different point of view. The truth is, however, that opportunities to interact with all types of people helps create growth in individuals and enables prosperity in business.