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Four Steps To Building An Inclusive Team

May 21, 2019

Insider, Management, Modern Business, Inclusive, Productivity

Modern work calls for a more open, collaborative culture. But how do we empower growing teams to discuss and make decisions without sacrificing efficiency?

 It’s no secret that diversity is good for business. Teams with a broad range of perspectives are more likely to adopt fresh ideas and approaches, fostering a culture of innovation. A recent study by Boston Consulting Group confirmed that greater diversity has a positive effect on a company’s overall revenue, with more diverse management teams clocking in 19% higher profits than competitors.

There is little doubt that progressive companies should seek to invest in recruiting diverse and varied teams. And yet, without thoughtful consideration into making that team inclusive, all the energy and resources spent increasing workforce diversity are futile. Certainly, diversity opens up the potential for new thoughts and ideas, but it’s inclusivity that allows this potential to be fully realised. 

As a team grows, this can prove tricky to navigate. Smaller group chats spring up, individuals are excluded from meetings, and long email chains alienate newcomers. Do you make critical decisions at scale, or with a few key people at the coffee-shop? When company strategy plays out behind the scenes, ideas and information get lost in the grapevine. Things will inevitably come out of left field, and your employees will struggle to voice their opinion and feel inspired when things are communicated indirectly.

 So what’s the point of investing in diversity if only to negate the benefits with a poor inclusivity strategy? Employees in this environment will feel undervalued, teams lack innovation and success is unlikely. At Wundamail, we believe that inclusive teams hold the secret to a thriving business. Here are four top tips to set your team up for success: 

 1. Keep Asking Questions

Taking the time to collect feedback, insight and data is crucial for both product and brand success, as well as the development of business targets and strategies. Organisations tend to steer toward interviewing customers, however. ‘Mystery shop’ exercises and focus groups form the majority of their feedback loop, and many end up overlooking the intelligence locked away within their own employees. When it comes to building a product or a brand, customer response is enormously valuable, but employee feedback can unlock insights from the inside, beyond what a consumer can actually see.

Setting up a continuous feedback loop within a team can embed evolution and innovation within the very fabric of the organisation. Employees are ready to react and adapt to societal and global changes, and every single individual becomes responsible for making change happen.

 

 2. Set Up A Continuous Feedback Loop

In order to integrate a culture of honest feedback within your team, you must set up a clear, reliable system for doing so. No business leader can expect employees to communicate or exchange information without first opening up a channel for communication.

Daily check-ins work particularly well, as they integrate an automatic feedback loop within each employee’s working routine. Sharing stories about all aspects of the business, including the overall company objectives and brand vision helps to coordinate teams and encourage collaboration.

Want to make collaboration simple? Team management software Wundamail automates this process by sending a question to the whole team each day, then circulating the responses for all to see. It streamlines team activity and promotes inclusivity by making actions visible, searchable, and accountable. You can choose a new question every day, or pick the template that best suits your team management style. The result? A more empowered, responsive, and inclusive team who respond quickly to your leadership.

 

3. Consider Your Management Strategy

Adaptive planning, evolutionary development, and continual improvement are all central pillars of the famous software development approach, AGILE. The technique is based on the idea that solutions evolve through collaboration, cross-functional teams and advocates rapid and flexible response to change. 

Sounds complicated, right? For businesses outside the software development bubble, this simply means learning quickly and adapting to changing conditions, and trusting motivated individuals to get the job done. Many agile leaders find it useful to structure their in-house communication channels, so they can give their employees the guidance and support they need and still give them plenty of space to flourish. Again, daily check-ins work well for this type of team management, as they allow you to monitor and keep individuals accountable, without suffocating them with a constant stream of instructions and guidance.

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 4. Keep Things Efficient 

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to achieving inclusivity is decreased productivity. When you invite new people to give feedback, stimulate collaboration, and encourage group decision-making, it increases the likelihood of a “too many cooks” situation. Inclusivity breeds innovation, but it can also mean there are more opinions, messages and emails to wade through each time you make a decision.

 As a result, it is crucial that businesses keep dialogue channels succinct, clear and on schedule, in order to stop inclusivity slowing them down. Real-time communicators such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, and Whatsapp are designed to open up the dialogue, but their lack of structure can make it difficult to cut through the noise. Ideas, notes and files get thrown around quickly, but also get lost and buried just as fast. It’s practically impossible to develop, plan or streamline a thought before the chat shoots off in another direction.

 For most businesses, team management software works better to streamline dialogue than ‘chat’ apps. For example, Wundamail condenses team activity into a simple, daily email. More than just a chat, it structures the conversation so that words become actions, and ideas become solutions. Each day, the team leader gets a report of group activity, a copy of which lands in everyone’s email inbox (no apps, usernames or passwords needed).

Managers are able to set the tone and agenda, while team members can contribute ideas and contextualise decisions- it’s a win-win. Above all, daily updates are the best way to keep tasks on schedule within an open, inclusive group.

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