Are You Needlessly Suffering the Natural Consequences of Behavioral Diversity?

Webster’s Dictionary defines diversity as a variety of differences. So…what do you think about when you hear the term, “diversity in the workplace?” Differences in ethnicity? Culture? Gender? Language?

In 2013 it is hardly a revolutionary concept to be working side by side with a person of a different race, or accent, or upbringing. We don’t stop the assembly line when some who is different from us walks onto the plant floor or into an employee meeting. The globalization of the economy means that people with vast differences are cast into a workplace brimming with diversity.

As a child of the 1960s I saw firsthand the struggle that many individuals went through to become accepted in the workplace for who they were, not what they were. While there is still much to be done, this generation is claiming some of Dr. King’s vision of judging someone “by the content of his character.”

Yet diversity is still the single largest challenge in the workplace today…and it has everything to do with the differences in the set of behaviors possessed by all persons. Each human being has his or her own natural behavioral style, which is the set of behaviors we use when interacting with other people and in specific situations.

While we are acutely aware of the behavioral style of the people in our workplace, we are almost completely blind to the impact our own behavior style has on those same people. Our natural behavioral style is either effective or ineffective, either complementary or in conflict, depending on with whom or what we are interacting.

Let’s suppose the people on the circle represent the spectrum of natural behavioral styles.

For the ease of the discussion I’ve numbered the faces around the circle (though each one is a precious individual). Here are several observations to illustrate the workplace challenges of behavioral diversity:

  • Number 1 shares the largest number of common behavioral style traits with 2 and 8 and finds it easiest to interact with them.
  • Conversely, number 1 shares the least common behavioral style traits with 4,5, and 6, and finds 4, 5, and 6 to be somewhat challenging whenever interacting with them.
  • Yet numbers 4, 5, and 6 find it easy to relate to one another, but find 1 to be a challenge.
  • Number 1 has limited issues in relating to 3 and 7.
  • It is natural for people to assign MOTIVES to explain behavioral approaches of people with whom they find difficulty in relating. These motives are almost always wrong!

Let’s suppose number 1 is a big picture idea person and number 5 is a highly detail-oriented person. Number 1 processes concepts quickly while number 5 needs time to think through all of the details. Number 5 wrongly assumes that number 1 has no concept of how important the details are, and number 1 wrongly assumes that number 5 is intentionally slowing down the process. It is easy to see how both people can begin building workplace silos that will impede workflow and overall effectiveness.

This is why I love the DiSC® system from Inscape Publishing. The DiSC® system helps explain each person’s unique behavioral profile and someone can become more effective in dealing with other people and responding to workplace situations. We became authorized distributors for DiSC® shortly after we incorporated in 1998. Since then we’ve helped tens of thousands of co-workers align with one another in a way that has reduced the potential for behavioral diversity conflict, and resulted in accelerated performance for their organizations. In short, teamwork drives positive results for everyone!

And lest you think this is just a “warm and fuzzy” bit of fluff, consider the financial impact to your workplace if employees aligned with one another and each one produced 10% better results. Now add to that a reduction in workplace conflict, and managers using DiSC® to help employees achieve their fullest potential! That’s been our experience with the program Unlocking the Power of Our Team with DiSC℠. So back to the question: Is Diversity in the Workplace Still an Issue?

Sadly for many organizations, the answer is YES, as they suffer the natural consequences of behavioral diversity. The good news is that there is an inexpensive solution to measure and educate employees about their own behavioral style, how to leverage their natural strengths, and how to align as a team.

Boyer Management Group works with businesses and institutions that want to get the very best out of their people. Our landmark program, Unlocking the Power of Our Team℠, produces an exceptional ROI measured in improved profits, reduced employee turnover, increased sales, and greater employee engagement. Learn how you could transform the dysfunctional into a supercharged team. To find out more, please visit us at www.boyermanagement.com, email us at info@boyermanagement.com, or
call us at 215-942-0982.

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