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Leading a Diverse Workforce

Diverse Workforce

The business environment and business owners are changing each and every day, and there is a need for the managers to adapt the different policies and strategies which appeal to their clients, suppliers, vendors, and employees. Workplace diversity brings with possible benefits just as much as possible conflicts for the business. Workplace diversity is more of ethnicity and race. Workplace diversity is composed of workers with varied characteristics including gender, education, political and religious beliefs, sexual orientation, geographic location, socioeconomic background among others (Hampden-Turner & Trompenaars, 2011). There is a need for an individual, as a leader, to incorporate diversity into the organization without altering the normal operations of the company. Incorporating diversity in the workplaces requires varied individual skills which may involve demonstrating a communications style and method which encourages inclusion, identifying and compensating for the biases and assumptions. Leaders capable of leading a diverse workforce also need to establish an understanding through active listening and questioning, practice inclusive behaviors, apply diversity techniques and tools to operate, and also recognize and apply actions ensuring cultural competency.

Poor practices of communication create workplace conflicts, incorrect goal assumptions, missed deadlines, and also contributes to employee turnover. An effective communication takes into consideration and establishes rapport and trust, which in turn helps the leader to act on opportunities and risks, and promotes alignment and productivity. To ensure that the cultural differences are met, there is need to consider the context. High-context cultures will rely less on the on the verbal means of communication but more on the non-verbal communications strategies. When managing the diversity, as a leader one should keep in mind and avoid stereotyping. A culture may be defined in a given way, but that does mean they are true to each regional and individual differences. Other cultural issues likely to impact the communication in a diverse in the workforce also include the personal space, roles, and status, as well as the body language (Hampden-Turner & Trompenaars, 2011).

An inclusive culture is one that focuses on the values that promote healthy conflict, empowers open-mindedness, avoids judgmental attitudes, and values new perspectives. Establishing an inclusive culture would constitute not only stating the cultural aspects that the workforce would wish to stress but also work to achieve an ideal standard of open and inclusive behavior. Major threats to establishing an inclusive culture include but not limited to discrimination, defensiveness, groupthink, and stereotyping. An inclusive culture can include a wide range of tangible elements like appreciation and acceptance of diversity, respects towards each employee’s contribution, regard for and fair treatment towards everybody, and equal chances for all employees to realize their potentials within the workforce. An easy way of achieving inclusion may be through listening and understanding. As a leader, one should listen with an open mind as this puts the leader in a position to understand the whole aspects of the situation. This can be achieved through seeking for multiple viewpoints of the problem, asking about the situation before characterizing it, and asking for ideas and suggestions from the staffs. Moreover, the leader also needs to address inappropriate behaviors in the workplace. This is arrived at by acknowledging the inappropriate behaviors, and communicating the expectations and likely outcomes as a result of their repeated behaviors.

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