One of the popular trends in management these days is giving the entire staff a personality test so we can understand what kind of people they are. Then managers are to learn how to speak to each individual in a way that resonates best with their varying personality types. One manager learning countless different ways to say the same thing to X number of employees.
At the same time, companies are racing to see who can create the largest “diversity and inclusion” department in the their industry, so they can publicize their “commitment to diversity” and attract the employees to whom this would matter (read: Millennials), along with attracting more diversity.
These two trends seem a bit counterintuitive, to me. And it all starts with your definition.
I understand most would define diversity by skin color, region of origin, and any obvious cultural stereotypes. Not me. This means the diversity is between the minorities and whites you hire. That assumes there are no similarities between whites and minorities.
The only diversity important to me is diversity of thought. I find it important to bring people together who are united by goals, but come at things from different angles and perspectives. Aesthetics don’t matter. Its what’s happening in the brain. Beyond that, any other kind of diversity is fairly meaningless.
So, it’s important that our employees are diverse, but they have to be spoken to in a way consistent with their personality. They just have to be diverse, themselves. It’s up to those around them to learn to speak in a way that works for them. So, what experience are they having with diversity?
Instead of teaching them how to listen to diverse points of view and methods of communicating with which they may be unfamiliar, we’re teaching them to hear things in ways that are consistent with how they already think.
It’s similar to how Netflix or Amazon works. They look at your behavior and feed you recommendations or tips consistent with what you’re already doing.
Imagine if Netflix or Amazon made recommendations based on what ideas or styles to which you’ve not yet been exposed.
Our current approach insists everyone else change to suit me. It says everyone has to learn to speak in a way that’s comfortable for me.
What if we insisted our employee base learns to listen to the ways their colleagues communicate? What if we told each employee that they’re going to have to get used to all of the different ways other people present information and learn to communicate with others?
As our society continues to be served personalized messages with wording, phrasing, and imagery tailored to each individual, the individual, in turn, becomes less and less equipped to understand those around them.
We should be doing exactly the opposite. We should be teaching people to listen, decipher, and consider alternative points of view, and the myriad of different ways they may be communicated to them.