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Mar 2, 201712:05 AMOpen Mic

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Competitive advantages of hiring a diverse team

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It’s natural to gravitate toward people who think the way you do, who you share things in common with, and who come from a similar background. It’s a human inclination that can serve you well in social situations, yet also undermine your talent management strategy.

When it comes to hiring and building successful teams, seek diversity instead of similarity. Look for individuals who think differently, who do not have so much in common, and who come from a variety of backgrounds. Their unique perspectives may or may not have anything to do with their gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. It would be a disservice to define “diversity” simply in terms of demographics.

Instead, pay attention to hiring and fostering a diverse talent pool that can do something together that is greater than what they can do on their own. When you assemble a team of people who think very differently and who don’t see the world in the same way, much more becomes visible. When you hire people with opposite but complementary skill sets, much more becomes possible. Additionally, you gain the following competitive advantages:

A greater ability to solve complex problems

With the advancements in technology and globalization most any problem in your business is complex. As an example: In my own company, our team of over 500 live in 15 countries. We’ve got many different teams, each of whom have their own areas of responsibility, such as sales, R&D, product, marketing, and finance.

So if a complex problem occurs with a customer it affects multiple areas: billing, implementation, product, marketing, and customer service, etc. If we want to solve the problem well (which, of course, we do), we have to provide individuals from all relevant areas a seat at the table. The last thing we need to solve complex problems is a group of people who think the same way.

An environment ripe for innovation

Innovation often comes accidentally as a result of experimentation. To create a dynamic that provokes such desirable accidents you need a team that can effectively contribute conflicting points of view.

Assembled well, this will bring about a useful kind of friction where opposition is actually constructive. If everyone were to agree with one another nothing new would come from it. But when you get a disparate group of people around a table who would not otherwise meet let alone spend time problem solving together, you create an environment with inevitable conflict that is also ripe for innovation.

If you are not intentionally seeking a wide range of personalities, backgrounds, and skill sets, then you are greatly reducing the opportunities for your company to innovate. Instead of fostering an environment of challenging dialogue you’re creating an echo chamber.

(Continued)

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