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Managing Diversity In The Workplace

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Learn the professional aspirations of all team members and support their efforts to achieve them.

Many organizations have some type of career development or succession planning process. In order to make these programs more effective within a diverse environment, be sure that you are talking to all of your staff about their career aspirations. Even if your organization does not have many opportunities for individuals looking for upward mobility, your interest in their career and your assistance in their development will be greatly appreciated and usually motivates people to do their best work. If there are no opportunities within the organization and the employee ultimately leaves the company, your company then has a positive ambassador in the overall community

Create opportunities for highly talented employees to be exposed to leaders who may not otherwise interact with them. Create opportunities where they present a report, attend a meeting in your place, or conduct various other activities whereby they can interact with leaders in the organization who, if impressed, can impact their career in a positive way.

Create cross-functional teams. As organizations have downsized, right-sized, and re-engineered their businesses, many management positions have been eliminated, thus requiring groups to work together as teams in order to complete the necessary tasks. When you create cross-functional teams, ideas flourish. People are exposed to each other's ideas and discover that different departments have different viewpoints. That exposure is beneficial to the overall innovation potential of the organization. When creating these teams, remember that putting people together does not automatically make them a team. Attention does need to be given to developing that group of people into an effective, trusting team.

Volunteer for community projects that teach tolerance, both directly and indirectly. By doing this, you set the example that you are continually enhancing your understanding and appreciation of people different than you. That behavior can encourage others within the organization to do the same. For example, you may choose to become a mentor within the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. This can enable you to better understand young people. The experience can teach tolerance and patience, and it can certainly will help you appreciate that which is important to people whose backgrounds may be different than yours. These learnings have many applications in the workplace.

Delegate fairly. Sometimes we have a tendency to delegate to the same people all the time because they do good work and we know things will be done well. However, if we are going to truly develop all team members, regardless of their packaging, we need to identify projects, tasks, and responsibilities that could further develop their skills. Once the task is delegated, be sure to coach and counsel, and be clear regarding your expectations and the results.

Communicate and support intolerance of inappropriate and disrespectful behavior. This must be an ongoing behavior on your part, one where you are constantly looking for opportunities to teach tolerance and respect within the workplace.

Evaluate performance objectively. Employees really want to do a good job. The problem is often they don't know what a good job is, because the clues from management and leadership are unclear. Often the clues are different based on superficial or stereotypical judgements regarding age, gender or ethnicity. As soon as a person joins an organization, she or he should be given a clear job description, and the specific goals and objectives for that individual should be developed. The criteria for measurement should be clarified. Throughout the evaluation period, feedback should be given so that when the evaluation review is actually conducted, neither the manager nor the employee is surprised by the results. It is not easy being totally objective all the time. However, if the skills and expectations for the job are clear, the measurement criteria is clear, and the feedback is continuous, then it becomes easier for you to be fair with each employee.

Consider individual needs when enforcing company policies and guidelines. The idea is to be fair. However, "fair" does not necessarily mean "the same." There are times when you must decide how to implement policies



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