Tips for Getting the Most from Your Workforce – Strategies for Inclusion and Innovation

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Tips – March 2018
Getting the Most from Your Workforce – Strategies for Inclusion and Innovation

In the February 2018 blog (link to blog), we talked about how DiSC and other personality/assessment inventories can be important tools to develop more inclusive and innovative workplaces.  These tools help us recognize that people think differently, and act differently based on their personal style…and that we all benefit from valuing and harnessing these differences.

Deloitte (2011), for example, talks about the risk of group think to effective decision making and risk management.
Janis defines groupthink as ‘a mode of thinking engaged in by people when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, with [team] members’ striving for unanimity which overrides their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.’ … Groupthink can lead to individual creativity and independent thought being lost in the pursuit of group cohesion, resulting in irrational decisions and individual concerns being set aside for fear of upsetting the group’s balance.

With thoughtful intention, the skills learned about working with different personality-types can be adapted and generalized to ensure voices of difference are heard from other identities – race, ethnicity, gender, role/status, age, discipline, location, etc.

Leaders play a primary role in creating an environment that promotes inclusive contributions resulting in greater innovation and reduced organizational risk.  Leaders support an inclusive culture by (among others):

  • how meetings are run
  • how people are assessed and developed
  • how people are hired.

For today’s tips, let’s consider how meetings are run.

  • Preparation: Consider that some people need time to process and think to develop their best ideas while others think best using the energy of the group.
    • Provide an agenda ahead of time including background materials and direction (what do we need to accomplish?) to help everyone get on the same footing.
  • Process: Consider how implicit or unconscious bias might impact how people contribute and/or are heard. This can impact the contributions of women, younger or newer employees or people with lower organizational status.
    • Establish ground rules that limit interrupting.
    • Observe the room set-up. Is everyone able to participate as an equal contributor.  Watch for people who sit on the sidelines or away from the table. (This may be a behavior based on perceived status, personality type, embedded cultural expectations, etc.) As a leader, intentionally invite them in.
    • Attend to people who may be participating virtually. Be sure they can hear, ask questions, share ideas, etc.
    • Observe who is speaking and who is not – invite contributions from quieter members of the group. Go around the table and to anyone in remote settings and/or invite people specifically by name.
    • Pause at the end of a section of the agenda and ask for any additional thoughts. (Allow for silence in the room – count to ten in your head before you go on.)
    • Pay attention to fair attribution – make sure the right people get and take credit for ideas.
    • Add your own input after everyone else has had a chance to contribute.
  • Follow-up: Consider that people retain what is most meaningful to them from the meeting, not necessarily what is most important to you. This can impact what gets done and how people feel about their participation and contribution.
    • At the end of the meeting, invite participants to summarize key points and action items. Scribe the key points and action items and ask for affirmation that everyone is hearing the same thing. This is an outstanding way to gain clarity, increase accountability and challenge assumptions.
    • Once again, pay attention to fair attribution – make sure the right people get and take credit for ideas.
    • If a decision is not required in that moment, invite follow-up thoughts after the meeting. How often have you thought of exactly what you wanted to say while you were walking back to your office or to your car?

 As a leader, you demonstrate what and who you value.  When you move past content to process at meetings, you make a clear statement about organizational priorities.

For more information, check out:

Cullinan, Renee. Run Meetings that are Fair to Introverts, Women and Remote Workers. Harvard Business Review.  (April 29, 2016)
https://hbr.org/2016/04/run-meetings-that-are-fair-to-introverts-women-and-remote-workers?cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-management_tip-_-tip_date&referral=00203&utm_source=newsletter_management_tip&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=tip_date

Only Skin Deep – Reassessing the Case for Diversity, 2011
https://www.ced.org/pdf/Deloitte_-_Only_Skin_Deep.pdf

For more information on bias in performance reviews, check out:
http://www.cookross.com/docs/unconsciousbiasinperformance2013.pdf

And in hiring:
https://www.brazen.com/blog/recruiting-hr/how-to-watch-out-for-unconscious-bias-in-hiring