Are You Ready for Change?

4/19/2016

Changing times mean changing companies. With organizations gaining broader global reach, and with talent pools becoming ever more diverse, companies are looking at major changes in their employee bases, and how those employees are recruited and on-boarded. Diversity is a must in the modern business world. Still, whether a company is diversifying its employee base out of need, or as part of a strategic plan, it may not be an easy process.

Say a company is trying to institute a formal Diversity & Inclusion initiative. While everyone recognizes that having a diverse employee base looks good to clients and customers, they may not know that hiring employees from numerous different backgrounds – in terms of gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs, nationalities and physical abilities, to name a few – not only spurs innovation but can help a company better reach those markets that the diverse employees hail from. Understanding why diversity – or any company-wide initiative, for that matter – is necessary is the first step to instituting change.

Secondly, are all stakeholders in the company personally committed to the change? Do they really believe in the benefits of diversity, or is their Diversity & Inclusion initiative just the result of needing to meet quotas?

Thirdly, has each stakeholder inspired others to understand why the change is needed and secure their commitment? The more people on board, the more momentum change initiatives have, and the less likely that they will be abandoned or lose backing.

Finally, after change is realized in the company, how will the leaders and managers and their direct reports adapt? When employees from different backgrounds enter a formerly homogenous work environment, cultural gaps originating from different interaction-style, thinking-style and sense-of-self preferences can cause miscommunications and other barriers to efficiency. Employees at every level of the company need to learn about their own cultural preferences so that they can learn about those of their new coworkers, supervisors and direct reports. They can then learn how to apply the key cultural skills of due diligence, cultural dialogue, style switching and mentoring when necessary to bridge cultural gaps and achieve maximum performance.

By establishing a neutral framework and non-judgmental vocabulary founded in the Cultural Orientations Approach, new co-workers can address uncomfortable situations with roots in cultural differences without fear or awkwardness, leading to a more open, harmonious, efficient – and diverse – work environment.