Retail businesses increasingly depend on highly diverse teams that bring together the skills and energies of men and women of different ages, people from different cultural, social and religious backgrounds. There’s great strength to be found in diversity. But it comes with its own special challenges for managers.
No matter how great each individual in a team may be, high performance doesn’t just happen spontaneously when you put them together – whether in an office, on the shop floor, or on a Zoom call. A good team manager recognises and acknowledges each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. A great team manager goes on to mix and match his/her diverse team resources to find what works.
Tricks of the trade
The leader of a diverse team needs to add a special ingredient to ensure optimum performance. It’s called respect. Everyone performs better when they feel they are fully respected, that their contributions are valued and recognised and their cultural sensitivities are honoured. Luckily, there are some simple, easy wins available.
A little public, collective recognition goes a long way in building individual engagement and enhancing diversified team performance. It can be some kind of formal “Employee of the week/month” scheme, or simply starting or ending your daily or weekly team gathering by picking out a good idea or action and mentioning it out loud. But take care to avoid appearing to have favourites. Spread the praise evenly and thinly and it will go much further. A small, culturally appropriate prize can work wonders, but it’s the recognition – from the leader and from peers – that really matters.
Go the extra mile
Any team leader who doesn’t know the birthdays of every member of their team and have it flagged in their diary is missing a big trick. Why not go the extra mile? If, as is likely, you have in your team people from different faiths, take time to familiarise yourself with the biggest special days in their calendar. There are many team leader points to be gained by remembering to say “Happy Diwali/Eid/Channukah…” But do your homework carefully and be sure to get it right. If you’re in doubt, why not ask if anyone is celebrating this week?
Getting it right with a diverse team can be a difficult balancing act for any manager. To succeed, s/he needs to develop diversity in their own thinking processes and learn to act collaboratively. If the team and their leader are working largely remotely, the challenge is even greater.
Performance up, sick days down
It’s not just a moral issue, there’s plenty of evidence that it’s absolutely worth making the effort to create a more welcoming company culture. Research from Deloitte shows that well-managed diversity and inclusiveness directly enhances performance at all levels. Productivity goes up, absence from work goes down. At the Anthony Gregg Partnership, we believe that diversity can help your team find its inner strength – and we offer tailored mentoring and coaching services to help leaders get the best from themselves and their teams, no matter how diverse.