When we hear about diversity in the workplace, we often think of characteristics such as gender, race, age, etc. Diversity of Opinion extends beyond these characteristics and goes hand-in hand with psychological safety.
Diversity of opinion or thought occurs when people feel safe to share their unique and even differing opinions. Everyone has a different perspective based on their unique experience, upbringing and opinion.
Truly great leaders know that there is more than one solution to any given problem and that it takes a diverse set of thoughts to get to the right solution. It means creating a safe environment for everyone to share their opinions, especially when they are different.
When leaders appreciate the substance behind a person, they consider their values and their inherent ways of thinking. When someone disagrees or has a differing opinion, it can be a good thing because it allows you to think outside the box. Disruptors that challenge you are helpful to your company’s growth.
So what can you do to support diversity of thought within your team? One way is to establish a culture of acceptance and creativity by modeling the behavior yourself. Share your own unique, out of the box ideas and champion others when they do the same.
Acknowledging that there is more than one solution and giving employees freedom to share differing opinions is not only good for employee morale, it also reduces turnover, significantly impacting your bottom line.
Leaders can create psychological safety by actively listening and asking questions. Is there a devil’s advocate on your team? Leaders shouldn’t automatically assume this person is being negative by sharing a differing opinion.
Having employees that disagree can be healthy. On the contrary, if there is a decrease or lack of conflict and everyone on the team simply agrees, how can you uncover diverse perspectives?
Diversity gives leaders access into different perspectives to get a true picture and more accurately solve a problem. Diversity of opinion also increases innovation amongst your team, giving you an agile business model that allows you to see more than you normally would.
Since you can’t be the expert in all areas, you want your employees to see what you don’t or can’t. This helps leaders make faster decisions and fix the “right” problem.
When diversity of opinion is encouraged, creativity improves because leaders can navigate between different perspectives. People feel safe to share which leads to more brainstorming and sharing. It becomes part of the culture. People have a voice and feel heard.
According to a survey by People Management, “Researchers found that when diverse teams (of three or more people) made a business decision, they outperformed individual decision-makers up to 87 percent of the time. Diverse teams were also shown to make decisions faster than individual workers, and benefited from a 60 per cent improvement on decision-making.”
Not only are diverse teams better at making decisions, they also have stronger relationships.
What’s one thing you will do differently to better promote diversity of opinion within your team?
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