Challenges and opportunities regarding diversity within teams work
A diverse team is a group of individuals with i.e., different backgrounds, cultures, races, ages, genders, and experiences that work together to achieve a common goal . In today's fast-paced, globalized world, diverse teams have become very common in both schools and workplaces. Diversity within teams can bring both obstacles and opportunities. A diverse team can lead to a wider range of perspectives and ideas, increased creativity, and improved problem-solving. However, diversity can also lead to misunderstandings, communication barriers and conflicts if not managed properly  . Management of a diverse team is important, as it involves leading individuals with varying backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. A good manager recognizes and appreciates the diverse talents, strengths, and experiences of team members and leverages them to achieve common goals. It is also important for managers to be aware of cultural differences and actively work to eliminate biases and discrimination . This article focuses on what diversity and diverse teams are as well as how to manage those teams to achieve successful outcomes.
Types of diversity
Human diversity refers to the wide range of differences and variations that exist among human beings. These differences can be of many types, social-differences, differences in skills and knowledge, personality differences, differences in beliefs or values and differences related to work and community status, to cite several. These differences between various individuals within the team, do indeed have both direct and indirect effect on the teamwork and can play a critical role when it comes to decision making and problem solving. 
Social diversity refers to differences in socioeconomic status, i.e. education level, and lifestyle. These factors can greatly influence an individual's experiences and perspectives, shaping their views and attitudes towards various aspects of life .
Differences in skills and knowledge
Differences in skills and knowledge can arise from a variety of factors, e.g. work experience, and personal interests. These differences can lead to varied perspectives and approaches to problem-solving and decision-making  .
Every individual has a unique personality that shapes their thoughts, behaviors and feelings. Personality differences can include variations in temperament, emotional reactivity, and communication style  .
Differences in beliefs or values
Differences in beliefs and values can refer to a variety of factors, such as religion, cultural background, and personal philosophies. These differences can shape persons worldview and influence their actions and behaviors  .
Differences related to work and community status can include variations in job position, income level, and community involvement. These factors can greatly impact an individual's experiences and perspectives, shaping their views on topics such as leadership, teamwork, and community engagement  .
The benefits and advantages of diverse team.
Working in a diverse team can have many benefits that can improve productivity, creativity, and innovation. In a team of individuals with different backgrounds, each member has different perspectives and ideas. This can lead to a more innovative and creative approach to problem-solving and can result in new and exciting projects that may not have been possible with a homogenous team. Furthermore, diverse teams often show better motivation and members tend to become more ambitious to perform even better. Diverse teams often also raise/higher the quality of each individual, meaning one team member helps to improve other team members which may indeed allow the team members to be more productive in the future. A divers team also allows for a healthy competition within the group which can be used to motivate group members  .
Creativity and innovation
Diverse teams are often more creative than a homogenous teams and Innovative. That can be attributed to the different thoughts each team member has and their different perspectives, allowing for a wider range of ideas to be created. Diverse group of people are also more likely to think unconventionally and challenge assumptions, which again can lead to good ideas and innovative projects and/or solutions. Innovation and creativity have become critical components of success, in today's business world and working in a diverse teams can help promote these components .
Problem – solving is another skill that diverse teams often have. Diverse teams are more likely to consider all aspects and alternative, which leads to more thought out and creative approaches, making those teams more likely to find a successful solution. Having multiple voices with different perspectives, and personalities interacting with one another can engender out-of-the-box thinking, which can be particularly beneficial when tackling different problems. Overall, teamwork can lead to better decisions, products, or services. The effectiveness of teamwork depends on the different components of collaboration among team members.These components could be communication, coordination, balance of member contributions, mutual support, effort, and cohesion. If a diverse team has members who contribute to these components, then problem-solving should become better .
Minimizes discrimination and prejudice
Being with people that are in any way different from you, can broader one’s vison perspectives, enhancing understanding and reducing discrimination and prejudice. When individuals interact and work with people that have different backgrounds they often learn to respect and value the diversity that leads to behaviours which helps to create more equal and a better atmosphere .
However it is important that every team members has different background, because if the majority of the team members are from the same origin, speak the same language and have similar interests, the team may be too homogenous. It can be hard if one or few team members don’t speak the same language and do not relate to the others. that can lead to isolation and vulnerability .
According to a study from Bakhtar University , diversity in the workforce can have a positive impact on employees satisfaction and performance. Employees that work in diverse teams are exposed to new ideas, and new ways of thinking. Working in a diverse group helps employees to develop a broader understanding of their work, making them respect their co-workers more and appreciate their work. This results in employees satisfaction as the study showed that they had a better sense of belonging to the organization. Being happy at your work and in your group leads to better performance resulting in better project and/or organizational outcomes. Promoting team diversity in schools or workplace can then be beneficial both for the people and the school or organization .
The conflicts and challenges that diversity can bring
When people from different backgrounds come together to work on a project there can be many challenges. In order for teamwork to be successful the team has to reach its perfomance peak. That can only be done with the right team members. It is common that people with different background and different experience have different opinions that often can lead to conflicts or misunderstandings. This misunderstandin can be the result of a language barrier and/or cultural differences .
Speaking different languages when working in group can be difficult and complex, as it can hinder effective communication, making it harder for team members to express their ideas and collaborate efficiently. It can encourage group divides and lead to misunderstandings that slower the progress and could potentially lead to project failure .
When working with people that don’t share the same values or have different opinions cultural clashes or cross- cultural conflicts are common. This often happens as people are unwilling to understand each other’s cultural uniqueness. If this is not managed correctly it can hamper the work environment as well as preventing synergy at the workplace or within the team .
Application and management
How to effectually manage diversity within a team and how to create a diverse team.
Managing diversity in teams has become an important aspect of modern project management. With teams increasingly made up of people with different backgrounds, cultures and perspectives. It can be crucial to have strategies in place to ensure that everyone can work together effectively and effectively and to avoid group thinking within the team.Group thinking within teams can occur when conflict is avoided and the desire for cohesiveness is greater than the desire for best decisions. When a team is experiencing groupthink, alternative solutions will not be suggested due to fear of rejection or disagreement within the group. Group members will measure success based on the harmony of their group and not by the outcome of their decisions. One way to counteract groupthink is to have members of a group be from diverse backgrounds and have different characteristics .
Strategies for Managing Diversity in Teams
- Setting clear expectations and goals
It can be a good strategy, to create a team charter that outlines the teams goals, roles, and responsibilities. This can help guarantee that everyone on the team is working towards the same objectives and has a clear understanding and awareness of their individual contributions .
- Encouraging open communication and feedback
Good communication is always important when working in teams (ref: The Standard for Portfolio Management, 4th Edition (2018)) When managing a diverse team, open communication and feedback is even more important and can be crucial. When team members feel heard, appreciated and respected they are more likely to be productive, engaged and dedicated to achieve a goal. Providing constructive criticism on each other team members work and behavior through giving and receiving feedback is another essential aspect of open communication. Encouraging open communication and feedback can build trust, encourage collaboration and help break down communication barriers that are common when working with people with different backgrounds. To promote this it can be good to i.e. - Regularly have team meetings with brainstorming sessions, where everyone can share their thoughts in a respective and nice environment. It is also good to encourage active listening by asking team members to summarize what they have heard and to ask questions to clarify their understanding, so that everyone understands and are on the same page. Finally it is important that the feedback is specific, actionable and respectful, whether it comes from a manager or other group members .
- Emphasizing the value of different perspectives
Emphasizing the value of different perspectives is another very important factor when it comes to manage diversity. It is important to encourage people to share their experiences and perspective on a project, because a diverse team can have very different opinions and ideas on how they want things, this can be an advantage if managed right. By creating a respectful culture and nonjudgmental environment it can help members to feel valued when they share their ideas .
- Providing training and education on diversity and inclusion
To ensure that everyone is on the same level it is important to provide training and education on topics regarding respect, value, communication etc. Training and education can take many forms, for example workshops and/or lectures. This could be done both online or in person. The focus should be on providing a safe and inclusive environment by going over topics regarding diversity i.e cultural sensitivity and unconscious bias. This can help team members to learn and feel more comfortable in their work .
- Celebrating differences and promoting cultural awareness
It can be a good idea for managers to plan events to celebrate differences. That can be done by celebrating various international days related to difference . Another idea would be that team members have a short presentation about themselves where they talk about their background, interests, family situations, etc.This can help people feel more comfortable together as well as understanding eachother better .
- Addressing conflicts and misunderstandings promptly and respectfully.
As mentioned, working in a diverse team can sometimes lead to conflicts and disagreements. When Situations like that come up it is important to discuss the problem and get to the root of it. The PMBOK® Guide identifies Interactive Communication as one type of communication method. Using Interactive communication when dealing with conflict can be very effective as it is important that every person involves shares their perspective and awareness of their individual contributions .
- Building a culture of inclusivity
Finally, building a culture of inclusivity at the workplace or within the team, can help avert conflicts. That means to provide an environment where everyone can feel heard, valued and respected. This combines all the bullet points above, since if they are all followed this should be the result.
Practical applications for managers to follow when managing a diverse team.
- Hiring diverse team members
- Providing accommodations and support for diverse team members
- Promoting teamwork and collaboration among team members
- Creating a safe and welcoming work environment
- Encouraging and supporting professional growth and development
Best Practices for Managing Diversity in Teams
- Engaging in ongoing evaluation and adaptation of diversity management strategies
- Seeking feedback from team members and stakeholders
- Continuously educating and training team members and leadership on diversity and inclusion
- Encouraging diversity in leadership and decision-making roles
Management Challenges and limitations
There are many challenges that can follow when managing diverse teams. As mentioned, language barrier can have a negative effect on group work, and it can be a challenge for the manager to make everyone understand each other and speak the same language. There are several ways to manage this, one could be to hire translators and interpreters, or provide language training program. However, One tool for measuring the language barriers has become poplar to use within organisations and that is to use the Linguistic Auditing methodology. The methodology is design to help organizations and companies to analyse and evaluate their language requirements and compare them to their capabilities to identify areas of both strengths and weaknesses. It is used to assess the company's language training and recruitment needs, as well as the effectiveness of these programs, allowing companies to match its foreign language competence to its strategic goals. By using these tools or methods any language barriers could potentially be avoided .
Another limited factor could be to ensure that everyone has same work styles, as work styles can differ significantly around the world. That can create challenges for managers to establish a consistent work style, as in some countries there is more emphasis on working independently and it is more hierarchy structured while in other cultures, teamwork and collaboration may be more valued. It can be hard to get everyone on the same page since people are often reluctant to change. However, by developing shared set of values and expectations as well as providing training and encouraging flexibility managers could avoid or minimize the risks of clashes this could bring and create a unified and effective team .
This article focuses on how to manage diversity, below are references that can provide further insights into the various aspects of diversity in management.
T. Cox & S. Blake. (1991). Managing cultural diversity: implications for organizational competitiveness. Academy of Management This article is about how managing diverse groups can gain a competitive edge. It discusses six aspects of corporate performance that the management of cultural diversity directly affects, and that is cost, attraction of human resources, marketing success, creativity and innovation, problem-solving quality, and organizational flexibility. The article also presents suggestions of how to enhancing organizational management of this diversity. It can be very beneficial for managers who are starting their careers in managing diverse teams. The article is relatively old, and there have been a lot of changes regarding management since it was published. However, it is very interesting and still practical.
Q.Reberson.(2013). The Oxford Handbook of Diversity and Work. Oxford University Press This handbook provides research about workplace diversity, examining what diversity means and its impact on group and organizational functioning in order to stay up with the changing corporate climate as globalization affects. The book is divided into sections; overview of the development and present situation of workplace diversity are given in the first section. The second chapter investigates different conceptions of diversity. Then it discusses psychological viewpoints on diversity. The fourth section discusses interactionist viewpoints on diversity and includes chapters on diversity as network connections, diversity as conflict, and diversity as knowledge sharing. Finally, it offers contextual information.
The Standard for Portfolio Management – Fourth Edition. (2017). Project Management Institute TheStandard for Portfolio Management – Fourth Edition (2017). is another book that can help managers/leaders to manage teams. The book provides a framework for applying optimum portfolio management techniques. It is a practical reference with case studies, examples, and templates to assist managers to establishing effective portfolio management procedures. The book emphasizes the need of integrating portfolio management with the broader strategic plan of the framework and provides suggestions on how to do so.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 T. Dippert, E. Gelles, & M. Merrick. (2016). Handbook of Research on the Facilitation of Civic Engagement through Community Art . IGI global.
- ↑ V.Taras, D.Baack, et.al. (2021). Research: How Cultural Differences Can Impact Global Teams Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2021/06/research-how-cultural-differences-can-impact-global-teams.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Project Management Institute. (2021). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), 7th Edition. Project Management Institute. https://findit.dtu.dk/en/catalog/61f92f6644ccbf17cdd9f5c1
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 E. Mannix & M. Neale. (n.d). The Promise and Reality of Diverse Teams in Organizations.PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.
- ↑ A. Stahl, (2021). 3 Benefits Of Diversity In The Workplace Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2021/12/17/3-benefits-of-diversity-in-the-workplace/?sh=7990c45622ed.
- ↑ F. Johansson, (2020). Why Diverse and Inclusive Teams Are the Engines of Innovation Retrieved from https://www.greatplacetowork.com/resources/blog/why-diverse-and-inclusive-teams-are-the-new-engines-of-innovation.
- ↑ H. Fong, (2018). Diversity=Thinking outside of the box Retrieved from https://medium.com/@hofongseven/diversity-thinking-outside-of-the-box-58f481a45ac
- ↑ L. Holck, (2018). Diversity leads to greater social coherence and well-being Retrieved from https://sciencenordic.com/culture-denmark-forskerzonen/diversity-leads-to-greater-social-coherence-and-well-being/1454678.
- ↑ How Promoting Diversity Helps Prevent Discrimination, (n.d.). Everfi Retrieved from https://everfi.com/blog/workplace-training/promoting-diversity-helps-prevent-discrimination/
- ↑ M. Qasim, A. Qahar, & R. Ullah. (2021). Organizational and Demographic Level Diversity Practices and Employees Performance. SEISENSE .
- ↑ A. Feely, & A. Harzing. (2022). Language Management in Multinational Companies . Emerald.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 N. Chaudhary, & R. Yadav. (2018). Management Techniques for a Diverse and Cross-Cultural Workforce . IGI-global.
- ↑ D. Seiferth. (2020). Communication in Multicultural Teams. Do Cultural Differences Imply Unbearable Challenges or Opportunities for Success . GRIN.
- ↑ T. Vartana. (2023). Social Studies: How to help students Understand and Respect Different Perspectives and Values. https://varthana.com/school/social-studies-how-to-help-students-understand-and-respect-different-perspectives-and-values/
- ↑ Diversity and inclusion training (n.d.). Qualtrics. https://www.qualtrics.com/uk/experience-management/employee/diversity-and-inclusion-training/?rid=ip&prevsite=en&newsite=uk&geo=DK&geomatch=uk
- ↑ S. Lubienski. (n.d.). Celebrating Diversity and Denying Disparities: A Critical Assessment. Research News and Comment. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.3102/0013189X03200803
- ↑ A. Feely, & A. Harzing. (2002). Language Management In Multinational Companies . University of Melbourne.
- ↑ J. Cheng, & B. Groysberg. (202o). How Corporate Cultures Differ Around the World Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2020/01/how-corporate-cultures-differ-around-the-world.