Managing a Diverse Workforce
If you’re like most organizations, you probably have a workforce made up of people from all different backgrounds and ethnicities. You may even have employees for whom English is not their native language. And when managing such a diverse group of employees, you’re faced with a whole new set of challenges.
But at the same time, if you’re like many organizations you may discover that when you’re competing in a global marketplace, a diverse workforce gives you a significant competitive advantage. So how do you reap the rewards of your diversity? Here are some simple guidelines used by organizations with successful diversity programs:
1. Understand and encourage the organizational philosophy that your workers are your number one resource — Seek out and value the unique contributions that employees from different backgrounds offer your organization.
2. Link your diversity to company performance — Employees with different backgrounds can open doors that may previously have been closed to you. Identify ways in which your employee diversity can help you boost performance and take advantage of these opportunities.
3. Remove barriers to success — You may often hear people talk about the glass ceiling. Take a close look at your company’s processes and remove barriers to success, allowing the most qualified person to rise to the top, regardless of his or her race, age, sex, etc.
4. Improve your recruitment programs — Many organizations fall into the habit of hiring people because of who they know, rather than what they know. Challenge traditional stereotypes and find new talent.
5. Treat everyone with respect — Learn about the special needs of each of your workers, not just race and lifestyle choices, but also alternative work schedules and family issues. This will help you hang on to your best and brightest.
6. Conduct regular communication and education sessions — Sometimes employees attribute problems at work to cultural issues, even when that’s not the problem. Encourage your staff to communicate not just with you, but with one another to prevent issues that can otherwise be prevented.
7. Promote a sense of community — Simple things like an after-work happy hour or company picnic can go a long way to promoting a sense of camaraderie in your workplace, especially among employees who might otherwise never interact.
Smart managers everywhere are realizing the benefits of a diverse workforce. It’s a train that has been gaining momentum for years, and if you don’t get on, you’re going to get run over.
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