Back in July, Helen Deverell wrote a post for the CIPR Inside blog about bringing diversity of thought to our communications teams:
“It would be boring and a lot less productive if we all thought the same and were all good at the same things.”
This started me thinking – how can we bring that diversity of thought into our teams?
The temptation is sometimes to go for the candidate who reflects our own background or skills – however, a strong team should enable everyone’s individual strengths, experiences, and personalities to shine. We want our teams to work together so that we’re made stronger by pooling our knowledge and resources. Here are my top five tips for bringing diversity of thought and experience to our teams:
1. We should be auditing our internal communications team, their skills and expertise in the same way that we’d audit our communications. This means looking at corporate purpose, internal communications strategies, and goals to check that we’re still meeting the requirements of our business. Doing this would also help to identify what skills or experience is missing from the team.
2. The use of ‘personas’ in internal communications helps to visualise a representative of a specific group of employees, to assess the reach and impact of communications and engagement. Read more about applying personas to employee engagement. We apply personas to our work – so why not to our teams? I think this approach would be particularly useful if you have a large team. Think about how changes in the team might impact on those different personas. Personas will help bring those ‘softer’ skills and personal values to the fore – things like creativity, empathy, ethics, and positivity.
3. One of the great things about internal communications is that there’s no one formal route into the profession – so try and avoid the temptation to think that the way you’ve come to your role is the ‘right’ way. Do you really need formal qualifications or a degree to fulfil a role? Would professional membership or experience in similar roles help the diversity of your team? What are those skills that could be learned (especially at a more junior level), versus those that are more personal and vital? What could different professional experience – beyond specific internal communications or employee engagement – add to your team?
4. Think about culture and behaviours on a team level. What sets you apart from other teams in your organisation? What does the organisational culture mean for you locally? If you have a new team member, what values would you expect to be important to them? It’s a balancing act to bring in people with diverse opinions and experiences, whilst still ending up with a team that works well together.
5. Speak to trusted colleagues to get an outside perspective – sometimes it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees when you’re embedded within your team. So, ask colleagues about their impressions of the team. Ask them how you could improve the way you work. Ask what’s missing. If possible, I’d try to do this with people from a range of levels of seniority within the business to get a more rounded view.
Finally, here’s an interesting Forbes article on why diversity matters.
Do you actively promote diversity of thought and experience in your team?