Managing diverse teams

New Zealand’s population is changing faster than the ability of our businesses to seize the opportunity that this change brings.

The businesses that thrive in the new world will have brands that speak to multiple populations and needs, innovation that cuts cost and delights customers and internal cultures that drive engagement through inclusive leadership.

Superdiversity – can we handle it?

In “The Discipline of Innovation”, Peter Drucker identified the key external triggers for successful innovation as:

“Demographic changes, changes in perception, and new knowledge. True, these sources overlap, different as they may be in the nature of their risk, difficulty, and complexity, and the potential for innovation may well lie in more than one area at a time. But together, they account for the great majority of all innovation opportunities.” (Peter Drucker, HBR August 2002)

Why do demographic changes offer us the chance to innovate?

Think about Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and only Superdiverse city. It is our economic powerhouse and typically the destination of choice for new immigrants seeking employment and career continuity.

The 2013 census data confirms what our eyes tell us. By 2028, our Asian population will have doubled and within five years the majority of our workforce will be over 55.

Beyond the surprise that the numbers bring lies an opportunity to seize the strategic opportunity and position our organisations to win in the race to market. We need the right talent in the right jobs and this talent will not look, think, act or lead like us. Can we handle that?

Managing diverse teams is different to managing homogenous teams

It seems obvious doesn’t it? Managers of diverse teams need to navigate through generational, cultural, technical and geographical differences every hour of every day. They need a new suite of leadership skills to recognise and decode cultural and generational differences so that the work gets done accurately, happily and on time.

These new skills result in profound improvements in communicating across cultures, being heard accurately when providing feedback, influencing networks appropriately, growing trust across a diverse group and managing  conflict in ways that drive innovation and productivity.

The global-local manager

Investing in training our front-line managers and future talent to effectively manage diverse teams is the only way we will optimise our success.

We are so deeply conditioned to see the world our way that learning how to look at things differently requires us to acknowledge then unlearn our inherent view of what is and what is not real or appropriate. “It is only when you start to identify what is typical in your culture, but different from others, that you begin to open a dialogue of sharing, learning and ultimately understanding” (The Culture Map, 2014, Erin  Meyer)

Switching styles and increasing flexibility in communication is a winning strategy for all leaders working to create success and engagement and isn’t that all of us?

How to be a Leader in Diversity

Diversity is a fact in our workplaces. There is a lot of noise about why it matters and the bad things that will happen if we don’t manage it well within our businesses but what do we do and how?

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New Zealand leading the way as a “Superdiverse” Society

Superdiversity law, policy and business stocktake announced

Mai Chen, Managing Partner at Chen Palmer New Zealand Public and Employment Law Specialists and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Auckland, today announced the establishment of a Superdiversity Centre for Law, Policy and Business to compile a Superdiversity Stocktake of key statistics and analysis, studies and surveys to help Government, business, organisations and New Zealanders transition to the country’s rapidly changing demographic profile.

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Want women in leadership? Organisations need to “Lean Out”!

We hear the catch cry everywhere – Why are there so few women at the top table in New Zealand business? We lament the seemingly insurmountable obstacles such as unconscious bias, boys club, imposter syndrome and a whole range of maladies and behaviours that serve to limit the progression of women into our senior ranks.  We ask for more female role models and enquire how they manage to “do it all”. We train our leaders to be aware of their own unconscious biases and to be more inclusive. 

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Diversity & Inclusion – Let’s measure what really matters!

Much has been published about the potential benefits of having a more diverse and inclusive workforce.  There is a plethora of material available that suggests a strong relationship between organisational diversity and business performance. 

As employees ourselves, we can all appreciate that if our workplace has a commitment to diversity and an inclusive culture, one where we can bring our whole selves to work, we are more likely to be engaged, and go the extra mile.  The link seems logical:

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Flexible Work Arrangements - Is it enough?

National’s long-awaited changes to the Employment Relations Act will come into effect at the beginning of March 2015 with the introduction of the Employment Relations Amendment Act (2013)(ERAA).

The ERAA gives ALL employees the right to request flexible working arrangements so this means that anyone in your team can ask for flexibility for any reason. Previously these requests were reserved for those who were responsible for caring for family or dependents.

Smart organisations are asking themselves three key questions.

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