On 15 June 2022, co-founders of Tjikko Claudia Widmann and Christian Stocker shared why diverse teams are more innovative and creative, explained how to make better use of this potential and how you can use diversity profitably in everyday life.
How to Unlock the Potential of Diversity in Your Team
Diverse teams outperform more traditional teams on many levels: They are more creative, they create more valuable innovation and they have more fun working together. That is, if diversity is not hindering them in their collaboration. For a diverse team to benefit from its richness, it must first overcome some challenges – and it must do so as a team.
As humans, we tend to give labels to things, so we define diversity by talking about ethnic and cultural backgrounds, about gender, age or religion. All those things shape us and who we are and how we are brought up influences the experiences we make in this world.
And still, diversity is more than that. Diversity includes who we are as humans, what drives us, what motivates us, what we value and what strengths we bring to a team. Diversity is about empowering people by appreciating what makes them uniquely them. To create an environment that allows them to be their full self. An environment that respects and celebrates their uniqueness instead of just tolerating it.
The key for a team to be able to harness its diversity is a common language around what makes them different and unique. When we can name something, we start understanding it. When we share language, we start understanding each other. When we understand each other, we can start appreciating who we are.
Claudia and Christian invite you to do a little test with your team: Give them a fictional goal to complete.
Let’s say they organize a trip for a group of friends to a popular music festival. The test works like this:
Define a list of 10 strengths that your team can choose from.
Give them 3 tasks and ask them, which 2 strengths they want to use in each of the tasks:
1. Planning the trip.
2. Communicating the plan to their friends.
3. Executing the plan under pressure (because tickets will sell out shortly).
After everyone chooses 2 strengths, organize them in groups of 4 or 5 (or less, just make sure there is more than 1 group).
Let them agree on 2 strengths to use on each task as a group.
After they finished, asked them what they discussed.
You might hear them talk about three key learnings:
First, people realize that they would use a completely different set of strengths for the same task.
Second, people will realize that they chose the same strengths, but for different reasons.
Third, people will realize that they chose the same strengths but don’t agree what that strength actually means.
Congratulations, you just made the first step of creating a shared language around our uniqueness! Invite your team to explore further and ask people about their motivations behind their choices. Your team will learn that we can go the same way for different reasons, that diversity might come in handy in different situations and that because we say the same word, we’re not necessarily talking about the same thing. That is the beauty of diversity: We’re all different, but we’re still going the same way. And to make it work, we need to have this one or two extra discussions about how we see things.
But how can we use the power of language to make that diversity work?
Start by creating a shared language around your differences. Being able to name the things that set us apart allows us to build bridges that connect them. In our work, we use a framework for this. A framework that uncovers the unique motivation and strength-set of every individual in a team. With the knowledge of our own motivation, we better understand our own behaviour. Sharing those motivations with our peers creates understanding for different behaviours, different values, different preferences.
Teams that unlock their diversity and develop a shared language benefit from:
The knowledge about their unique motivations and strengths allows individuals to tailor their communication to the needs and interests of their peers. This leads to less time wasted due to misunderstandings and tensions.
Openness and trust in conversations
Thanks to their shared language around diversity, team members are able to name their differences and have open and trustful conversations around them. Their shared language helps them understand their own uniqueness as well as the uniqueness of others and thus fully appreciate the diversity in their team.
Fastline to an effective collaboration
Team members that appreciate the diversity in their team become better team-members and leaders. Their exchange about goals, tasks and roles is facilitated and they are able to prevent conflicts before they even arise. That’s why they work more quickly and effectively as a team.
Finally, such a team created stronger bonds than ever. We get to know and understand each other better and develop an understanding for our uniqueness and the appreciation of each individual in the team.