How do we assess how successful teams are at creating diverse and inclusive teams? This lesson examines this issue and articulates strategies for assessment.
Manager’s First-Hand Observation
The goal for many businesses is a diverse and inclusive workplace. While a list accounts for different backgrounds an indication of diversity, it doesn’t indicate the success of the team. Imagine taking a census of your neighborhood. It gives a clear indication of the racial, ethnic, gender, and age makeup of your neighbors, but it won’t offer any evidence of how cohesive they all are as a community.
To get a picture of cohesion, you need to assess critical specific teamwork and collaboration competencies. This survey will tell you how they get along, work together, and how they consider and support each other. If you want an accurate picture of how successfully diverse and integrated your office environment is, you’ll need to focus on this type of study. The results of this study will show what qualities or behaviors to praise and encourage, and which to shift away from on an individual basis.Correctly assessing competencies in teamwork requires the ability to compare several perspectives. Create the set of questions that best addresses the fundamental skills and generate reports about each team member from your three top perspectives: management, team member, and team.
Most important is the manager’s first-hand observation. Have the manager record marks in each of the vital teamwork competencies for each team member. Each team member should then fill out the survey referring to themselves. Finally, team members should fill out the survey about other members of their team. Compiling these results will not only result in a range of perspectives, but it also makes it clear when a team member perceives themselves as others see them or differently from how others see them.
Let’s learn about the most critical competencies to be assessed in judging whether a diverse team is effectively collaborative.
Effective & Cooperative Teamwork
Perhaps the best examples of productive and cooperative teams are great sports teams or great musical ensembles. Athletes and musicians both literally play. The sense of play is essential to effective and collaborative teamwork. Following this line of reasoning, does your team member play well with others, in an open and unguarded way?When creating a scale from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’, some essential questions on your survey might include statements like:
- Team member understands the shared purpose.
- Team member understands their role.
- Team member solves problems collaboratively.
Ownership of Mistakes
Everybody makes mistakes.
People who are unable to own up to their mistakes won’t be a useful team member, while those who learn from them will make the most excellent team members. Specific business models, like Agility, encourage looking at mistakes and failures as useful learning tools.A series of reasonably direct questions might include:
- Does the team member take ownership of their mistakes?
- Does the member view mistakes seen as an indication of failure?
- Does the team member use the lessons learned in mistakes as tools for growth?
Support and Outreach
Some team members can be so self-focused that they neither acknowledge nor even recognize the projects and accomplishments of others.
On a basketball team, the greatest players aren’t the ball-hogs, but the players who set each other up and celebrate the achievements of their teammates.There are three critical areas in support and acknowledgment. These include:
- Does the team member articulate appreciation?
- Does the team member listen?
- Does the team member ask others about their personal lives?`
Good team members collaborate well; great team members seek to expand the range of the team by reaching out to people appropriate to each project.Survey questions to assess outreach would include:
- How many people does the team member reach out to during each project?
- Is the member insular or inclusive?
For positive attitude, we would look to see if the team member approaches each project with an eye towards how to make it work, or if they look for the problems and stumbling blocks.
There are ‘can do’ and ‘can’t do’ people. The most successful people in any setting, but especially the team setting, are likely to be the ones coming in looking to make the project work.Questions for positive attitude might include:
- Does the team member look for ways to make things work or potential problems?
- Does the team member take a positive approach to their work?
- Is this someone people like to work with?
Additionally, some people plunge ahead blindly like the proverbial bull in the china shop, and others are aware that the things they do and say affect the people around them. Ultimately, the best team members are those with a degree of sensitivity toward the ramifications of their actions.Questions regarding the awareness and ramification of actions might include:
- Does the team member speak and act in a way that encourages the speech and actions of others?
- Does the team member seem to be aware of the effect their efforts have on others?
Having the ability to view the answers to their questions from multiple perspectives will give a more transparent image of the inclusivity of the team and allow adaptations to be made to improve inclusivity in the future.
Checking the diversity boxes on a workplace team will describe the group makeup, but won’t indicate how successful this group is at inclusivity. There are six key areas to be explored to quantify inclusivity in workplace teams.
- Effective and Cooperative Teamwork, meaning playing well with others.
- Ownership of Mistakes, meaning taking responsibility for mistakes and using them as learning opportunities.
- Support and Acknowledgement of Others, meaning congratulating other team members for accomplishments and helping them get through difficult decisions.
- Outreach, meaning making an effort at including all the team members’ perspectives.
- Positive Attitude, meaning having a ‘can do’ attitude that looks for solutions rather than problems.
- Awareness of Ramification of Actions, meaning being aware of consequences and effects of actions.
For a specific idea of how each team members succeeds or not at fostering inclusivity in a diverse workplace, you should create a survey regarding each of these and get the perspectives of the manager, the team member, and the team. Compiling all of this material will allow the manager to support and encourage inclusive behaviors and help to modify less-than-inclusive behaviors and amplify teamwork, like any good sports team or band.