Change initiatives bring out the best - and worst - in all of us. From senior leaders to front line staff, we often need very different things from each other to make a transition successful.
A few of the most common Dimensions of Diversity that can derail an organization's change plans are:
Values: Shaky and/or not shared by the entire group
Vision: Fuzzy and/or not embraced by key leaders
Competencies: Risk tolerance disparities among leaders
Attitudes: Resisters working along side of Change Champions
Personal Style: Thinking and responding styles colliding
I know that ethnicity, age, gender, education and such are the big markers of diversity. Fair enough, they affect many aspects of our work life. But, I think our approaches to change, both helpful and not, go deeper than that.
Personal biases towards change, risk tolerance and individual style run deeper and can cause more headaches than the obvious points of difference when groups are in transition.
The first step in leveraging differences is to make the unknown, known. Speak it, share it, and make it visible. Create opportunities for people, at all levels of the organization, to declare their perspectives and preferred approach to change. Than make the plan fit the folks!
By making differences transparent, everyone has the opportunity to get their own needs met, while learning to flex their style to accommodate the styles of others. When push comes to shove, as it often does in the throws of intense change, understanding each other is Job #1.
The tool that my client's tell me is the most helpful at really uncovering differences is DISC Personal Profiles. I've done dozens of DISC Team Workshops that are fun and interactive, and get at the core of differences among team members - highlighting how they can work together more productively. The Dimensions of Diversity list above acts as the backdrop in the workshop to understanding group norms and uncovering both strengths and gaps.
If your team is launching a change initiative, let's talk about what you're really going to need to be successful. Individual diversity can 'choke out' or 'lead the charge' to success...you get to decide!