Diversity and Inclusion Build High-Performance Teams

CIOs must harness diversity and an inclusive mindset to build cohesive and successful teams.

If CIOs want to be among the 33% of global CIOs who have evolved their digital endeavours to scale, they must exploit the output of high-performance teams.

As organizations advance their digital business initiatives, teams are becoming a high-priority target for change. “High-performance teams are needed for project and product design, and engineering activities,” says Bruce Robertson, Gartner distinguished vice president analyst.

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Diversity and inclusion drive financial targets

High-performance teams that advocate diversity and inclusive behaviors will help scale digital initiatives, and through 2022, 75% of organizations with frontline decision-making teams  that reflect a diverse and inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets. The impact of diversity and inclusion is highly positive. Gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperformed gender-homogeneous, less inclusive teams by 50%, on average.

Differences of age, ethnicity, gender and other dimensions foster team performance

There are certain attributes that build high-performance teams and make them stand out, and two in particular, diversity and inclusion, can improve success. Bringing diversity into the workforce is effective at a business level. The difference in employee performance between nondiverse and diverse organizations is 12%, with similar improvements in intent to stay factors.

CIOs must harness both to build cohesive and successful teams.

Having diversity of age, gender, race and ethnicity, or geographic and national culture in teams reflects the very broad user base that companies have. This in turn allows the organization to better serve its consumers. “We know that innovation and diversity are correlated; more diversity of thought is fuel for innovation,” says Robertson.

In additional to a mixture of age, gender, and cultural backgrounds, CIOs need to also look for “cognitive” diversity, which is mixing people together with different thinking styles, habits and perspectives. Having everyone on a team be the same style will hinder performance.

“Different people think in different ways, and that diversity can be what saves the team from groupthink and allows them to achieve better outcomes,” says Robertson.

Furthermore, as organizations increasingly focus their teams on business product delivery, so they are becoming much more multidisciplinary. As multidisciplinary teams include business roles, not just IT, diversity of expertise and experience enables faster decision. “Everyone who needs to make decisions is already on the same team,” Robertson says. “There is no handing off a project to IT for delivery. Instead, the same team carries the work from design to delivery, and the high level of performance achieved is measured in faster delivery with greater quality.”

Create a sense of inclusion to foster involvement and engagement

To build and sustain an increasingly diverse teams, an organization needs to adopt more inclusive behaviors. “A meaningful, inspiring purpose matters for any team, because it fosters engagement and a sense of shared investment. Inspired by a common purpose, everyone feels that it is “their” mission, not someone else’s,” Robertson says.

Build an inclusive team — “we-dentity”— by building purpose into a team manifesto. A team manifesto creates more engagement with the mission.

Trust plays a critical role in creating a cohesive and inclusive team. Fostering the psychological safety — a shared belief that any team’s member will feel comfortable about taking interpersonal risks — can improve discretionary effort among employees by up to 24%. “In this environment, you are human, you discuss things together, and employees feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a questions or offering a new idea,” says Robertson.

Gartner clients can read more in “Building High-Performance Teams: Inclusion Matters More” and “Building High-Performance Teams: Diversity Matters” by Bruce Robertson.

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