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Team Leadership Issue: Managing Diversity
Jackson in his article claims team diversity is the even distribution of personnel attributes among interdependent members of a work unit (Jackson, 2003). The attributes encompass a wide range of issues ranging from gender, culture, and ethnicity, inclusive of skills, experiences, and education obtained by the team members. The diverse traits of the team members can either build or break the entire team in attaining set goals and objectives.
Managing workplace diversity in the modern world is of significant importance to organizations in the competitive business world. In line with this, upholding team honesty as well as initiating channels for positive feedback ensures the team remains united and is the preferred strategy by most firms; this builds trust among the team members allowing them to raise potentially awkward issues affecting them. However, the team should create communication guidelines to minimize chances of miscommunication based in cultural misunderstandings. The potential outcome of disrespecting cultural norms results into ineffective team atmospheres; this causes intra-team conflicts thus, the organization's goals cannot be achieved.
Having a highly heterogeneous team is really innovative to the organization; however, the diversity is likely to collapse due to the varying viewpoints of the members, ultimately lowering the firms' innovativeness. On the other hand, highly homogenous teams have like-minded members and are not prone to disintegration though, they often lack innovative initiatives.
Best Practices for Team Performance
Poorly managing team diversity precipitates team dysfunction resulting in polarization of personal politics within the team; this disorients the team's members thus, their productivity diminishes and the group ultimately collapses. Freidman (2005) captures this by proclaiming that, "For those in the 'in crowd,' there may be a sense of community and intimacy and for those in the 'out crowd' however, there may be a sense of isolation, loneliness and even bitterness" (Friedman 2005). As a result of the persistent isolation and disunity in the team, highly talented individuals are likely to leave the organization and besides, legal issues arise if the firm is found propagating a hostile work environment for workers.
Due to the ever increasing management issues, most firms have initiated several strategies for managing diversity including; sensitivity training during orientation, ensuring members of discriminated-against groups establish a friendly support networks. The other is raising general awareness via public affirmations of diversity by the firm's manager. In addition, for expatriate leaders in multinational organizations, self-awareness is essential when dealing with employees of different cultural background than them.
As a concern, organizations' managers have the responsibility of using team members' diverse gifts, abilities, and skills to achieve set goals (Shipp, 2012). This requires active management by the leader to ensure the team members respect and accept new members who are different in one way or another. In addition, establishing a business environment encouraging diversity ensures members accept each other and help them achieve their ambitions.
The diversity mix of the personnel attributes would depend on what the team is put together to achieve. For example, it was found that Top Management Team's tenure diversity increased the likelihood of investing in new geographic areas (Barkema, 2007). For a company to strategically innovate in new areas, new team members would need to be added regularly to provide fresh new views and promote constructive debate from the different experiences, skill, networks, and views that would foster strategic innovation for the company.
Key factors of a well-diversified team include "trust, team spirit, unified commitment, principled leadership, evaluation goals, results-driven structure, standards of excellence, participation in decision making, external support and recognition, and an aptitude to adjust roles and behaviors to accommodate new values" (Basset-Jones, 2005). The team should be able to recognize strengths and weaknesses and be able to adjust behavior to respond to needs where all team members are mutually adjustable. The levels of quality output are the results of employee skill and knowledge rather than supervision. Creativity and problem solving capabilities are enhanced with a combination of diversity, individual strengths and weaknesses, and working relationships.
To successfully promote creativity and innovation, an association with management of work routines and the creation of appropriate teams would be required. A team leader enables the other members to be innovative as well as self-directed within the capacity of individual assignments by allowing them to learn from their own successes, mistakes and failures. It is important to assure that each individual on the team has the opportunity to make the maximum contribution to the success of the team by doing the type of work for which they have the greatest opportunity for productivity and achievement. This would help to consider the functional competence, preferences to different types of work, and different types of work context. It would require an adequate balance of work preferences, attitude to risk, and an inclusive orientation to social identity.
Critique of Literatures
Bunderson (2002), in his article examined both dominant and intrapersonal functional diversities and their impacts on performance effects on management teams. Bunderson and Sutcliffe ascertain that functional diversity is linked with the extent to which functional diversity is conceptualized and measured (Bunderson, 2002). From the research it was realized that dominant functional diversity had a negative while intrapersonal functional diversity has positive effect on information sharing and unit performance. Thus, the study outlines that various forms of functional diversity result in different implications for a firm with intrapersonal functional diversity being the most important for team effectiveness as opposed to just distributing team member across functional categories. Besides, information sharing mediates the relationship between interpersonal functional diversity and unit performance that is largely explained by improvements in sharing of information.
Jackson and affliates in their publication highlight the different explanations of diversity as well as attributes associated with diversity in the work place such as age, gender and race. Therefore, managing diversity effectively often requires pervasive changes in policies, practices, and organizational culture in order to obtain the value that can come from cultural differences and improve organizational performance (Jackson, 2003). In their meta-analysis, they ascertained that other studies correlated diversity to performance outcomes and behavioral processes. However, the study realized mixed results; some positive and some negative. In addition, the study upholds that firms should encourage dialogue among the teams, conduct awareness training, to ensure the employees have insights about themselves as well as about others. The programs are more successful where managers attended the training programs and if compensation is tied to success for meeting goals for recruiting, hiring, developing, and promoting employees with diverse backgrounds.
A study to evaluate top management teams' was initiated by Barkema and his co-researcher by hypothesizing whether social outcomes of top management team diversity influence the company's ability to move into new geographic areas (Barkema, 2007). The research looked at the impact of miscommunication due to creation of subgroups to the diversity. In addition, the study concluded that organizations should constantly be innovative by bringing in new members; this encourages the initiation of new ideas given the different skills and experiences the new members bring into then team. However, the research team warns against picking members who are in bad terms with some team members; this is likely to bring about wrangles in the team resulting in failure to achieve the set strategic innovations. Personnel attributes should be combined in a way to create success with the team as a whole. This is especially important in determining a proper mix of diversity in a team designed to accomplish specific goals and objectives. The diversity mix inside the team should constitute an attitude of team performance where each member flows with the team to produce the outcomes the team is to accomplish.
This study conducted by Horwitz and Horwitz aimed at giving an-indepth analysis of team diversity and its outcomes. According to this study, it was found out that task-related diversity has a positive effect on team performance, while bio-demographic diversity is unrelated to team performance. Additionally, social integration is insignificantly impacted by team diversity (Horwitz, 2007). However, it is suggested by the study that diversity makes firms more competitive though ascertaining that diversity does not have a uniform effect on team outcomes. This means that forming teams strictly on demographic attributes would not necessarily maximize diversity benefits as there was no significant relationship found between team diversity and social interaction. The attributes of organizational environment, such as teamwork support structures and leadership commitment, can influence member interactions, such as social interaction. Shifting the emphasis from individual attributes to compositional and relational structures at a group level enhances efficiency of the organization.
Diversity has its advantages as well as disadvantages; diversity leads to innovativeness and creativity but also, can result into wrangles and misunderstandings in the workplace thus affecting performance (Basset-Jones, 2005). As a result of this, organizations should initiate creative work environments, products which make the employees become more creative; thus, innovation is dependent on employee perception as well as its successful deployment. Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages associated with workforce diversity put organizations in paradoxical…[continue]
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