Collaborative teamwork is actually a mashup of two concepts: collaboration, or when a group of people, each with different skills, works together to produce something; and teamwork, referring to the qualities (like listening and reliability) involved when a team works together well. Put the two together, and you get a team that values each group member’s unique skill set as well as a cohesive group that can solve a problem efficiently.
Managers should encourage working relationships that foster collaborative teamwork and generously acknowledge examples when observed. “When leaders highlight collaborative teamwork, this provides an opportunity to spotlight team members willing to work together and serves as a blueprint for other team members to follow in the future,” explains Underwood.
Having conversations that may be difficult is an essential part of promoting belonging in the workplace.
“Leaders should create a safe space for these types of conversations and be willing to act upon them, as needed,” advises Underwood. Establishing guidelines, such as listening without interrupting, allowing everyone to speak and avoiding disrespectful language, is essential to set the stage for a productive conversation about diversity in organizations.
Leaders should also expect and encourage different viewpoints. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of those in management and chief executive positions identify as white. So, it’s crucial to recognize that even if leaders have not encountered a particular experience themselves, it doesn’t mean the experience doesn’t exist for others in the same organization.
Creating a non-threatening environment where these conversations can occur is vital for any leader who wants to promote diversity and inclusion. Welcoming all contributions at a brainstorming session rather than trying to find the “right” answer may be a helpful way to present group discussions, for example.
As workforces continue to become increasingly diverse, it’s to be expected that DEIB strategies will evolve. To this end, Underwood states that “leaders must maintain the momentum gained in recent years and continue to keep DEIB as a strategic focus — specifically the emerging emphasis on the importance of belonging, which requires a commitment to humanistic and caring leadership, as well as the needs of the employees.”
Diversity management is not a “one and done” process, explains Underwood. “The role of the conductor within an orchestra is to ensure all musicians are playing in harmony. The same goes for organizational leaders.”