Amongst the vast array of skills project managers possess, the ability to effectively manage a diverse team so that everyone in that team feels genuinely valued and included is in high demand now more than ever. The world population is currently estimated at 7.8 billion and growing. Everyone around the world beholds unique perspectives, views, and experiences. From differences in personalities, race, age, culture, religion, gender, socio-economic background and more, top-performing tech teams require the differences to be truly innovative and groundbreaking in their work.
The direct correlation between the success of a business and their commitment to understanding and educating their teams on diversity is being recognised by more and more organisations. It’s becoming common for potential candidates to look at what work companies are doing to increase diversity and inclusion before deciding whether they want to work for the company themselves, so not only are the skills to manage a diverse team vital for the success of a project, but they’re also important for attracting tech talent.
Sometimes due to various factors from poor management to an environment not conducive for good communication and understanding, the differences between people in a team can become a barrier to productivity rather than an advantage. That’s where a project manager equipped with the skills to manage a diverse team can be invaluable to the success of a high performing team’s output.
We’ve compiled our top tips to help project managers manage a diverse team.
A project manager managing a diverse team should be sensitive to and aware of different religious and cultural holidays throughout the year that may be being celebrated by team members. This is important for several reasons, from making people feel equal, valued, and included, to being attuned to cultural diversity which leaves little room for misunderstandings amongst team members. Tools such as sites like Calendar Labs can help with becoming aware of upcoming religious and cultural holidays.
This tip is especially relevant with so many companies and teams working remotely due to the current pandemic being suffered by the globe. Project managers managing a diverse team should establish an easy way, perhaps through the use of cloud-based software or a secure shared drive, for team members to access shared documents, research, and any other materials related to the project. Sharing knowledge with one another is a key method for opening up lines of communication, sparking discussion, and demonstrating that everyone’s work is equally as valued and important.
Accountability can be a powerfully inspiring and motivating value for project managers to demonstrate to team members. For example, admitting mistakes and discussing your challenges with team members with the intention to inspire them to do the same can be an effective way of creating a culture of empathy and acceptance amongst the team. Striving for perfection and leaving little room for error is more likely to divide a team than creating an open forum for discussing errors and roadblocks.
This tip will be unique to the people in a project manager’s team. Making people feel genuinely included and valued as part of a team can rest heavily on how much the project manager or person leading the team has researched cultural differences of people in the team. For example, if there are any language barriers in the team or if there’s a big age gap between team members. A project manager who has spent time considering cultural differences will be in a more educated place to ensure that they observe and respect any differences.
The Tech industry is fast-paced and the products and services coming out of the industry are highly innovative, they rely on leadership inspiring the best out of people. It’s important that project managers are given the opportunity to put time into considering how to genuinely build good lines of communication, decide what is needed to result in genuine feelings of inclusion in the company culture, and ultimately to view diversity in a team as a competitive advantage.
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