Navigating different perspectives within a team can be challenging, yet it is essential for fostering innovation, creativity, and healthy team dynamics. Below we explore proven strategies to manage diverse viewpoints.
A key reason that nearly every one of us coaches uses a profiling tool, whether working with individuals or teams, is that we need to take inventory of different ways of thinking, perspective, and what we call, native genius. Why? If you live in the United States and have traveled to other english-speaking countries, then you’ve experienced speaking to an Australian, for example, knowing that you understand their words, yet cannot seem to understand what they mean.
So, while we usually comprehend the words coming out of the mouths of our bosses, peers, and reports, frequently we misunderstand their meaning.
Profiling is the inherent mindset of getting to know varying perspectives, leveraging unique talent, and reaping the benefit from seeing situations from all sides. Perhaps you’re thinking, ‘well thank you, captain obvious, I’m pretty sure we are all enlightened enough in the 21st century to know how innovation works.’
Academically, that is true. In the frenetic pace of real life, we often operate somewhat on autopilot, making the assumption that our communication, whether verbal or written, whether internal or external, is crystal clear to all that read or hear it.
Tip #1: Different Perspectives Lead to the Best Ideas
Your team is a collection of incredibly different histories; different generations raised by different generations. Rich family dynamics providing a mosaic of tools to use when creating, solving, and communicating.
The focus here is the difference in thinking, in addition to the other ways we are accustomed to seeing diversity: race, gender, geography, orientation, etc. How do you tap into this rich pattern of human capital to bear on the betterment of your business?
By creating the environment where there are no ‘dumb’ contributions, everyone is encouraged to verbalize what they’re seeing and thinking, and there is a robust respect for one another. Trust is the fuel that ignites the very best within individuals to collaborate, innovate, and tackle the biggest challenges.
By contrast, a diverse team that lacks trust may find themselves embroiled in conflict, blinded within their silo, often pulling their leader in to play referee rather than facilitator. It is the role of facilitator that can take a diverse team to the next stage: inclusion.
How to Implement:
Foster Empathy & Understanding
Encourage team members to understand and appreciate the unique experiences, knowledge, and perspectives of their colleagues. This could be done through team-building exercises, personality assessments, or simply by encouraging conversations about non-work-related topics.
Decision Making Process
Create a clear, democratic decision-making process where everyone’s voice is heard. This could involve voting on major decisions or assigning someone to play ‘devil’s advocate’ during discussions to ensure all perspectives are considered.
Conflicts will inevitably arise in a team with diverse perspectives. When they do, it’s important to address them promptly and constructively. Focus on the issue at hand, not on personal attacks, and strive for a resolution that satisfies everyone.
Provide training on team collaboration, empathy, and effective communication. Continuous learning opportunities can equip your team with the skills they need to navigate different perspectives effectively.
Tip #2: Creating More Inclusion
Building trust in your team will tear down silos, draw participation from all, and lead to stronger decisions with better outcomes. Why is this?
If you have intentionally assembled a diverse team, then undoubtedly there are some with overly optimistic views and countervailing opinions akin to Chicken Little.
Therefore, the key for the Leader as the host/facilitator is to orchestrate in a way that brings everything in the brains of your team out onto the whiteboard. For example, there are members of your team that quickly volunteer thoughts, love to play devil’s advocate, enjoy the banter that comes with problem solving, and rarely have to be encouraged to speak.
Now, consider the quiet, thoughtful team member – the one who appears to be solving complex mathematical problems when that outgoing person is busy effusively speaking.
THAT person also needs space – to consider their words, ponder their options, and offer their well considered opinion. Making sure to give floor-time to everyone, will ensure that no one person occupies all the oxygen in the room. Creating operating agreements (rules of engagement) for inclusive participation will draw more inclusion, yet there may still be barriers to communication.
How to Implement:
Develop a Shared Vision
A common vision for the team can unify disparate perspectives. Clarify the team’s goals and remind the team of these regularly. When disagreements occur, bring the focus back to these shared objectives and how different ideas can contribute to achieving them.
Promote Diversity & Inclusion
The most effective teams are inclusive and varied, bringing together individuals from various backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints. Promote variety on your team and emphasize the importance of each individual’s viewpoint to the group’s success.
Establish regular feedback mechanisms such as performance reviews or anonymous surveys. These can help you identify any issues within the team, understand team dynamics, and make necessary adjustments.
Tip #3: Overcoming Communication Barriers
Many meetings that I’ve participated in and observed are frequently disorganized, lacking an agenda, and without a clear host/facilitator to manage said agenda alongside a scribe to capture the minutes.
When there is a scribe, often that person is taking copious notes that are sent out after the meeting, often deleted without review. Above were referenced Operating Agreements; for instance, one person speaks at a time, one a person has spoken, then they don’t earn additional time until all have weighed in, and so on.
They can be what you like so long as all participants commit to following them (or understand they will be called out when they are out-of-agreement).
Now, go one step further. The scribe captures the work on a whiteboard (sometimes the facilitator chooses to do this). Now everyone is seeing, in addition to hearing, what is being discussed.
This additional information helps spur new thought while dissuading the outgoing from repeating a point they have already made (we simply point to the whiteboard). After any brainstorming session comes the decision followed by the commitment to action.
Again, this can be captured on the whiteboard for all to see along with a process for managing the follow up tasks as well as cascading information as necessary. These are simple (not easy) steps you can take to succeed.
How to Implement:
Encourage Open Communication
Promote an environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing their views. Open communication is a cornerstone of effective teamwork. Make it clear that all perspectives are welcome and valuable, and that disagreements or debates should be seen as opportunities for learning, not as personal conflicts.
Implement Active Listening
Active listening techniques should be encouraged. When team members feel heard, they’re more likely to be open to others’ ideas. Practice summarizing what someone has said before responding to it, asking for clarification when needed, and providing feedback in a constructive and respectful manner.
Remember, navigating different perspectives within a team is not about achieving complete agreement or removing conflict. Instead, it’s about leveraging the power of diverse perspectives to foster innovation, enhance problem-solving capabilities, and create a more inclusive, effective team.
As a former Fortune 500 Executive Leader and current entrepreneur, Ken works with leaders and their teams to sharpen their skills in the Six Keys to Unlocking Leadership Genius: Communicate, Delegate, Motivate, Recruit, Collaborate, and Develop. Find out what Leader’s Cut can do for your organization by scheduling a no-strings meet-and-greet.