Join Catherine Mattice Zundel for an in-depth discussion in this video Improving Communication, part of Managing Diversity.
I once did some consulting for an organisation who was struggling with miscommunication between the managers and the employees. Managers told me that they had an open door policy. So, they couldn't figure out why the employees were saying they couldn't talk to the managers. Employees told me that the managers said they had an open door policy but literally, the managers doors were always closed. Surprisingly, this is not uncommon. Many organizations have policies that do not mirror actual behavior. As you likely already know, miscommunication can happen so easily at any moment with anyone.
And if you have a diverse work space, potential for miscommunication skyrockets. But there are five ways you can use communication to your advantage. The first way, is to explore creating diversity networks, These informal networks provide an opportunity for individuals with similar backgrounds to come together and share ideas, or provide support to one another. Some examples include a Bible Study Group, an LGBT group, a Working mom's group, or an Asian American Group. By providing these groups some office space to meet, you are communicating to your employees that you are interested in supporting their needs and desire to connect with people who are similar to them.
You can take diversity networks one step further and create employee resource groups or ERGs. These formalized groups work with HR and leaders to create action items that help the organization achieve its goals. Some things ERGs can do are develop you talent pipeline, improve engagement, expand community outreach, and develop relevant benefit programs. Diverse work places also must invest in diversity training. It's important to offer courses that cover topics like how we interpret the world through our own lens of experience.
overcoming stereotype and biases, overcoming cultural bearers, and respecting differences. Training should also happen every step of the way as you unfold your diversity initiative. For example, as you implement your diversity cooperate policy, training is imperative for communicating your expectations. Also consider your conflict resolution processes. Conflict related to diversity is very complex and resolution requires a discovery of inherent differences that exists because of culture.
A mediator must have the ability to inspire change and deeply rooted beliefs in order to help opposing parties reach resolution. To that end, one possibility is to train selected employees or managers on the process of conflict resolution and allow them to become peer counselors. Of course, doing this will require the help of an outside expert in the field of diversity conflict resolution, but allowing employees to take ownership of the resolution process is very powerful. Finally, you do indeed need to have an open door policy, and really mean it.
With all the benefits diverse work force brings, one problem it can bring is miscommunication. But, the benefits of diversity programs far outweigh the cost especially if everyone feels comfortable discussing diversity with their managers, leaders and HR. So keep your door open.
She outlines a process for creating a strategic plan and benchmarks for success. To bring your plan to life, she provides tips for implementing a diversity policy, recruiting and hiring, and asking diversity-related questions during interviews. (Compliance issues are also discussed along the way.) Catherine also explains how to integrate diversity within the performance management processes, including measuring employees on their ability to work well with others and measuring managers on their ability to drive and implement diversity initiatives.
Last, she covers "people practices," such as improving communication through open-door policies and ensuring work-life balance accommodates employees' lives and family responsibilities. When you're faced with organizational challenges, such as resistance to change, prejudice, or fear, Catherine provides tools to address them head-on.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.