The Challenge of Managing a Diverse Team

Diversity among workforce is natural in an organization. Individual differences can foster creativity, happiness and fulfilment at work but they may also be the cause for clashes and disagreements. Managing workforce differences has become a key skill for managers who need to match the skills of an individual with the requirements of the organization (Mullins 2010).

People are unique in many ways. The Four Layers of Diversity Wheel by Gardenswartz and Rowe (Washington 2008:1- 4) shows the complexity of factors that influence and shape a person’s unique character. Plenty of studies attempt to measure an individual’s personality such as OCEAN Test which measures “The Big 5 Personality Traits”: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism (Mullins 2010). Managers use personality tests to identify differences in skills and characters while forming a team.

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Figure 1: The 4 Layers of Diversity Wheel created by Gardenswartz & Rowe (2003)

TUCKERMAN’S TEAM FORMATION MODEL

Building teams requires the ability to understand people’s strengths and unique skills and knowing how to maneuver them in an efficient manner (Llopis 2012). Tuckman’s team formation model relates the way individuals behave when they come together as a group. The model comprises of four stages: forming, storming, norming and performing and implies that once the issues of processes and feelings are addressed in the initial stages, it’s expected that the team will reach a fruitful final stage and vice versa (Hut 2010). The four stages of the team formation are summarized in the diagram below:

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Figure 2: Tuckman’s Team Formation Mode

While Tuckman’s suggests a linear succession from one stage to next stage and has been successfully implemented in small teams, human processes are subject to variation and “stages” of development can be skipped or reversed (Clements and Jones 2008). Other theorists have proposed cyclical alternative models such as Bales (1965) who argues that team members seek a balance between getting the task done and building interpersonal relationships. Therefore, there is a movement between norming and performing (Kemper et.al. 2015).

DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT

Diversity is seen differently by organizations. While some companies promote diversity by valuing influences from diversified talents, others tolerate it by merely following the rules, the rest see it as a setback (Rawat and Bsergekar 2016).

Advantages of Diversity Management

Promoting diversity may bring plenty of advantages such as increased employee satisfaction, customer focus, more innovation and creativity and improved cross-team learning (Mullins 2010). Hunt et al. (2014) reported that companies having higher workforce diversity have a competitive advantage. KPMG is an example of a firm who took a long-term strategic approach to engaging diverse talent. Having a large multinational client base, KPMG took the effort to understand their business protocols and culture by integrating diversity with corporate responsibility (Llopis 2011). DiversityInc.com (2015) ranked KPMG in Top 50 most successful companies in employing women and minorities in management roles (32% higher than US average).

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Figure 3: KPMG Diversity Forecast 2018 (Source: The Guardian 2014)

Challenges of Diversity Management

  1. Not Understanding Differences in Cultural Values

Majority of managers lack experience in managing culturally diverse teams. They are accustomed to working with people with whom they share same values and beliefs in life and when they face a diverse workforce they fail to understand what motivates individual team members (Majlergaard 2012). Many Korean companies including Samsung are struggling with understanding their cultural diverse workforce, and employees who “stand out” from the norm end up leaving the company (Hwangjung 2013).

  1. Discrimination and Stereotyping 

Green et. al (2015) suggest that prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination in an organization harms working relationships and brings damage to the morale and productivity in a diverse environment. Connor (2015) found that 31% of women feel discriminated at work while men are offered better opportunities.

  1. Lack of Proper Training Programs and Promotion for Women

Many corporations have failed at applying diversity training programs which can be seen in the lack of promotion opportunities among women and minorities. Fortune Magazine (2006) found that only 2% of CEOs in Fortune 1000 were women.

CONCLUSION

In in the end, “it takes great leaders to build great teams”.  Team building is both an “art and a science” as it requires exceptional understanding of the differences in personality and skills to build high performance and long-lasting teams (Llopis 2012). I strongly believe that a successful team building activity will lead to a more successful workplace environment.


REFERENCES:

  1. Collins S. (2014) ‘KPMG sets diversity targets across gender, race, disability and sexual orientation’ [online] available from: < https://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2014/oct/24/diversity-targets-gender-race-disability-sexual-orientation > [6 October 2016].
  2. Conor, L. (2015) A Third Of Working Women Say They’re Discriminated Against [online] available from <https://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2015/jun/03/third-of-working-women-discriminated-against&gt; [23 October 2016]
  3. Gardenswartzrowe.com (2003) ‘The Four Layers of Diversity’ [online] available from:<http://www.gardenswartzrowe.com/why-g-r> [5 October 2016]
  4. Green, K., Clark, J., Lopez, M., Farnsworth, D., Kepner, A. and Wysocki, J. (2016)Diversity In The Workplace: Bene Ts, Challenges, And The Required Managerial Tools [online] 1st edn. Florida: University of Florida. available from <https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/HR/HR02200.pdf&gt; [23 October 2016]
  5. Kemper L. E., Bader A. K. and Froese F. J. (2015) ‘Diversity Management in AgeingSocieties. A comparative study of Germany and Japan’, Management Revue. 27(1-2), 29-49 [online] available from: <http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.inti.edu.my:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=b05d97b9-53a0-4e6e-9f8c-321cb21275c2%40sessionmgr4009&vid=1&hid=4204> [5 October 2016].
  6. Llopis G. (2011) ‘Diversity Management Is the Key to Growth: Make It Authentic’Forbes Leadership [online] available from: <http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2011/06/13/diversity-management-is-the-key-to-growth-make-it-authentic/2/#32a84c8d6646> [1 October 2016].
  7. Llopis, G. (2012) Forbes Welcome [online] available from <http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2012/10/01/6-ways-successful-teams-are-built-to-last/2/#3c6b0f0ae3c2&gt; [24 October 2016]
  8. Hunt V., Layton D. and Prince S. (2014) ‘Why Diversity Matters’ [online] available from:<http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters> [5 October 2016]
  9. Hwangjung, K. (2013) Understanding Cross Cultural Communications In The Business Sector Of South Korea: Case Study For Foreign Staffs In Korean Chaebols [online] available from <http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org/pdf/case-studies/Hwajung_Kim_-_Understanding_Cross_Cultural_Communications_in_the_Business_Sector_of_South_Korea.pdf&gt; [24 October 2016]
  10. Majlergaard, F. (2012) The Top 5 Challenges Managers Of Cultural Diverse TeamsAre Facing – Gugin [online] available from <http://gugin.com/the-top-5-challenges-managers-of-cultural-diverse-teams-are-facing/&gt; [23 October 2016]
  11. Mullins L. J. (2010:157-162) ‘Management and Organizational Behaviour’. Ninth Edn. Edinburgh Gate: Pearson Education Ltd.
  12. Rawat P.S. and Basergekar P. (2016) ‘Managing Workplace Diversity: Performanceof Minority Employees’, The indian Journal of Industrial Relations. 51 (3), 488-501.
  13. Toegel, G. and Barsoux, J. (2012) How To Become A Better Leader [online] available from <http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/how-to-become-a-better-leader/&gt; [23 October 2016]
  14. Washington D. (2008:1-4) ‘The Concept of Diversity’. Durham: Washington & Co [online] available from <http://dwashingtonllc.com/images/pdf/publications/the_concept_of_diversity.pdf> [6 October 2016]

 

Published by Alle Ceambur

Digital marketing expert and copywriter. I have over 6 years of experience in business consulting. Passionate to help startups grow online.

14 thoughts on “The Challenge of Managing a Diverse Team

  1. Much effort has been put into this blog with your creative visuals.A very concise way of comparing and contrasting diverse management. Perhaps you could improve in your conclusion by emphasizing more on diversity.I am impressed on how you used KPMG as an example on a company practicing diverse workforce. Overall good explanation for this topic and I hope to read more of your work in the coming future. GOOD LUCK!!

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  2. I like the model you used to show different components involve in diversity. Do you think that being emotionally intelligent will ease the process of managing a diverse team?

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Nik.
      I consider that in a world of differences only results-oriented leaders with task, relationship and individual skills are able to effectively manage the complexities of today’s organizations. I agree with your statement that emotionally intelligent leaders have a better understanding of cultural whys behind behaviours and find it easier to manage a diverse team effectively.

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  3. Great explanations on the definition of diversity and thank you for making things easier by providing the Four Layers of Diversity Wheel to explain further about the dimensions of diversity. I clearly understood the term diversity now and with the team formation model, Tuckman’s model, I get to adopt the understanding on how to develop a group in the future with a diverse team. Thank you also for separating the advantages and challenges of diversity management with examples slotted inside. Great job, keep it up!

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    1. Its very encouraging to hear that this blog has helped you to understand better how to form an effective team in the future. It all starts from understanding the different strengths and behaviour characteristics of team members. Just to share a quick fact, according to Belbin.com (2012), an effective team is made up of 4 people, as teams with more members become less effective and behave more like groups due to a more distant relationship between members. Let me know if this helps you in the future!

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  4. You have mentioned very deep knowledge about how to manage diverse team. Excellent blog! I have a question, why do my mind become narrow after experiencing many different cultures?

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  5. You have included the 4 layers of diversity wheels, which is very impressive for extra knowledge which clearly define and suits to a diverse teams. Besides, you have stated the advantages and challenges in point forms which makes reader has a clear view on reading. Marvellous job and keep up your good work!!

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    1. I’m glad you have enjoyed reading my blog. I’ve chosen to include the Diversity Wheel to explain better the 4 dimensions which influence a persons personality. This 4 factors not only shape an individuals personality but also lead to a unique leadership style (as I’ve explained in Blog 5).

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