Clients keep telling the same story: their global company calls a meeting. A huge effort is initiated to bring great people together from all over the world. Information on the newest strategy and tons of analytical details are exchanged – but the outcome of the meeting is not satisfying for either the participants or the leadership. At the end of the meeting there is a shared feeling that we talked, a lot, had some interesting discussions and while we reviewed important and timely information, there’s still something missing. Following the meeting you notice that there is a lack of cohesiveness and the way we are working together doesn’t feel engaging. The results are not as effective as we would hope for. We also notice that things don’t develop as quickly as we wish; there is a lack of momentum, and we don’t know why.
Things feel narrow, constrained, and the reason for that is quite simple: multicultural, cross-functional settings can hinder teams and organizations in unfolding their full potential. Even if the dominant language of the organization is shared throughout the organization, a lack of rapport and understanding can occur, due in some part to limited language skills, or culturally specific innuendos and or multiple meanings that can contribute to the team members` feelings of uncertainty while moving between different cultures and norms in a professional setting. Additionally one culture can be experienced by the group as the dominant culture. This is further complicated when comparable professional functions in the organization originate from different educational backgrounds, work culture, and different experiences of similar working scenarios. All of this contributes to a lack of trust that occurs within the group because people aren’t able to relate to each other in a meaningful way. These are some of the factors that block the potential of companies. What is the way out?
The answer is: Organizations need to identify and activate the internal resources that will be most effective for the success of the daily work and the long term goals. Only then can they use diversity as an asset. That requires a closer look into the underlying, emotional layers of teams and organizations, and a plan on how to initiate and manage resourceful, collaborative relationships between people who did not have that kind of relationship before.
How do you do that? By recognizing and linking the individual and group resources in new ways within the organization, by establishing common understanding and a commitment through consistent actions and behaviors to hearing and utilizing all of the voices in the room, not just the dominant culture or dominant participants, you build teams and organizations that support the success of the daily work. By establishing and modeling open and direct communication that values differences and supports diversity of ideas, cultures and opinions you access and harness more and more of your team’s and organization’s potential. Your field of resources is enlarged through a deeper understanding of your team and you are more effective and efficient as an organization
Experience shows: Companies that are willing to take that closer look benefit from the value of diversity. They open new solutions spaces, establish trust and motivate people to make their contribution. For them diversity is the asset of the future.
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