This article first appeared in Nasdaq.
Collectively we are learning to adjust to a new post-pandemic normal, whether we like it or not.
As part of this shift, businesses can no longer take a committed workforce for granted. Why? Because the world of business has changed, as has many people’s vision of work-life balance and purpose.
So, as the financial world waivers and tries to settle, and employees are pushing back on how and where they want to work, industry is rethinking hiring, onboarding and ongoing leadership coaching. I would posit that many businesses have the answer to this predicament right under their noses. They just can’t see it.
I’ll get to that momentarily.
‘Farm’ your people for answers
Leadership can be forgiven for not knowing where to go next. They have had as big a wake-up call, if not bigger, than most of us. But it’s time to challenge old thinking and recognize that teams from diverse backgrounds bring improved and exciting new input to group thinking.
Yep: The answer I alluded to above lies with your existing, diverse teams. Talk to them about what they think might be missing in their workplace.
To that point, I was especially encouraged by an article, “How DEI and Sustainability Can Grow Your Triple Bottom Line,” in the May 3 issue of Entrepreneur magazine. Author Nika White articulates the importance of Triple Bottom Line thinking: people, planet and profit.
Many people get hired for a position that they are qualified for but have a range of other talents that are never used, or even known. And diverse teams are rich not only in skills but also in life experiences.
Fully realized, they can reinvigorate a business significantly. Greater diversity may also change how entire teams digest information needed to make the best decisions.
Uncover innovation in workforce
What innovate ways might you leverage to move forward in this new era?
- Check out the underutilized talent you already have in existing teams.
- Ask the team to tell you what they need in terms of new hires to “do the job.”
- Don’t be fooled into thinking that hiring people who go to the same school as you will bring value to your workforce. (Or who look or think like you; often the opposite is true, balancing varied skills and perspectives to mine for the best solutions.)
- The more diverse your teams, the more likely you are to build the intellectual potential of your workforce.
- Ramp up your onboarding processes. Both in terms of speed and robustness. As you challenge them to really reveal themselves, encourage them to challenge your organization. Ask the hard questions.
- Make new hires feel included and emphasize your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Consider this inspiring quote from Telle Whitney, a computer scientist who is the former CEO of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology: Diversity drives innovation; when we limit who can contribute, we, in turn, limit what problems we can solve.
Deep dive on diversity
My boss and mentor, money-relationship integrator Hugh Massie, has always advocated “understanding people before numbers.” And THIS is exactly what he’s getting at: How well do you know your people?
If you already have a diverse workforce, how well do you know their culture and their values? As a leader, you can’t lead effectively if you don’t know who you are working with and, among other things, what makes them tick?
From my perspective, every leader should have behavioral insight into their workforce. You already know their talents, but probably not all of them. And do you know what motivates them? How could they add more value to your team and business?
I manage a very diverse team, and even though I know all their inherent behaviors through our own behavioral discovery process, I am daily reminded that they are so much richer in their talent, knowledge, awareness and ability to make time to appreciate one another.
Increased creativity and innovation come with, through and from diverse teams, and this will inevitably lead to numbers – greater profits.