Have you had success creating inclusive teams where all team members feel empowered to use their voices and show up authentically? Where power dynamics are acknowledged but neutralized so the best idea wins? If so, what did you do to enable it?
Being a People Geek, my first inclination is to ask if you have surveyed on topics of diversity, inclusion, equity, belonging, etc. Part of building a strong culture of inclusivity (especially at a team level), is to utilize feedback from our employees and see what our areas of opportunity lie.
These topics are very sensitive and contextual, so it’s possible that your organization is doing some things great, but some things can be improved upon. Using data can inform and guide us to the best actions to take so that we can create the culture you desire.
More generally, I think creating a culture of trust, open conversation, and respect are imperative to people feeling like they can bring their most authentic selves to work. Power dynamics are tough to combat, but having a culture where you trust others to make decisions and respect those decisions can help to neutralize.
I would love to hear your thoughts and keep this conversation going! Such an important topic!
Thanks so much for your reply, Sahra!
We survey our team members annually and use pulse surveys as well. When we sense we need to learn more, we lead empathy interviews to better understand the employee experience on that specific issue. And we recently used the data to inform all staff and small group learning on inclusive teams. So I think we are doing well there, but I am always looking outside of our org, too, to forums like this, to make sure we aren’t operating in our own little bubble. Your reply was very helpful in checking that!
I am actually designing an org health survey for some of our clients as we speak, and there is interest in adopting it within our organization to replace our current annual survey. It includes the topics you laid out. So I am hopeful that it can help our clients and our own team how well we are doing at creating the conditions for inclusivity.
Amanda - that sounds so interesting! Can you tell us more about the empathy interviews? What does that entail?
Hi Amanda - great question. There is definitely a lot to unpack there. Picking one thing that springs to mind… a tool I use repeatedly to create equitable conversations at work is facilitation. I am always surprised at how few people have had facilitation training and always delighted at how much of an impact it can have. I will admit to being biased of course, because I am facilitator and trainer myself. For a long time, I’ve been using organizational improv as well - in particular the concept of Yes, And to help keep conversations open and dynamic - and avoid voices being shut down and never heard again. (If interested, I wrote about organizational improv here: https://medium.com/all-things-improv ) and feel free to connect with me if this peaks your interest
There are a range of design thinking techniques which are incredibly helpful in breaking down these barriers and ensuring that every has an equal voice. The design studio technique is particularly useful in the situations that you describe, @Amanda . It’s pretty simple to run;
- as a facilitator, introduce the problem, allow the group to brainstorm individually on post it notes
- then have participants join together in small groups to share their ideas and choose their (say 5) favourite ideas as a group
- each small group shares their ideas with the other groups and sticks their post it notes to a whiteboard/wall
- give every participant in the group a small number (3-5 depending on the size of the group) of sticky dots
- each participant uses their dots to vote on the ideas
I’ve found this very useful to allow the best ideas to bubble to the top rather than the HiPPO taken precedence. If need be, the senior execs can have an extra dot or two if they want to feel special!
The great thing about design thinking is that there is no such concept of “the smartest person in the room” or someone being “more important” than everyone else. The whole ethos of the approach is that everyone comes to the table with a different perspective on a problem, and anyone can have a great idea!