My manager’s probably best team building concept is Diversity. Why? read on and get some insight on building your next team to accomplish an amazingly performant, and adaptive team.
Our R&D group encompass about 20-ish team members all in all, which is quite small compared to most other groups in our company, and in our specific work site, yet it still wins in its member’s diversity on almost all accounts. When you look at diversity, it is easy to just look at the common variables like gender, or age, but true diversity in your team is more than that.
How strongly diverse our small team is? In age, we have engineers in their early 20s and engineers in their 40s. Ethnicity-wise, we have both religious and non-religious team members.
Going to lunch is easy with a small diverse team? think again. For food orientation, we have religious members who only eat kosher, then those who eat anything, and then we also have a vegan. Try booking a team lunch now I dare you.
You’d also think all engineers are with the same background because this is software engineering that we do? Some are computer sciences graduates, some are MBAs, or majoring in business or economics, others have university experience but no diploma, and some have masters. On gender diversity we’re having women account for a quarter of the team, and location-wise the team is almost fifty-fifty split between Romanian and Israeli R&D locations so we do pretty good on cultural diversity.
Creating innovative initiative and state of mind isn’t straight-forward for anyone, mainly because true innovation comes from passion, being open minded, thinking outside the box, and for some, even living outside the box, far far away from the box. That internal drive that innovators have you can’t really teach.
Having a diverse team though helps a lot. Many of your team members will have unique experiences, different world perspectives, and will want to blend in and share their own different idea. Diversity doesn’t skip the technological part, as our small team maintains products for the larger HP, developed in Java, Python, Drupal/PHP, and Node.JS (MEAN stack at large). That much fragmentation isn’t always fruitful but it surely leads to a significant innovative ideas, and variety of technical methodologies.
Captivate your customers
With a diverse team, which is also multicultural there are far better chances that when your team engages with customers they will be able to connect with them better. Our team is not a full-time customer support department, but when the team is so diverse, the support team is really made up of developers, QA, UX, functional architect, team and group leads.
When customer support gets that much wide-spread visibility through-out the group you can be sure we’re making it quite an experience for customers. Customers are not just all about support, sometimes our customers are our partners, and with a solid differentiated team members we’re also able to reflect better our customers and partners better.
How to do diversity right?
If you’re building a team I’d recommend you don’t choose them as soldiers, or robots. Your team doesn’t need to fit into any stencil or template. They may need to carry attributes which you are looking for, or other characteristics to diverse the team, but treat them as creative, and unique individuals and try to avoid common pitfalls like discrimination, and job requirements “must-haves” with regards to personal or even educational background.
Today, more than ever, people are more autodidacts. If you think your super stressing technological interview is good to filter out candidates, and to dismiss all of the non-university graduates or those with bad GPA grades then you’re probably wrong. Even Google already stated that all of their brainteasers and pre-judgement didn’t predict well how their recruits blended in the company (source: article on LinkedIn)