Bridging Gaps Among Diverse Workers Brings New Levels of Workplace Productivity

    When a corporate initiative collapses or a major project fails, companies often want to blame or point fingers to a specific individual or department. However, there could be issues that managers haven’t considered causing productivity issues.

    On a deeper level, Dr. Shelley Reciniello believes that usually an underlying, psychological issue within the corporate structure could also be to blame. In her book, “The Conscious Leader,” Reciniello uses psychological forensics to dive into troubling issues within the corporate world, and in doing so, she has found the truth behind how employees function in the work environment. She has been able to present leaders with the skills to help motivate employees and bring together the right set of practices to keep workers conscious and ready to give their all.

    In our IT Downloads area, you can check out Chapter 6. It deals with diversity in the workplace and how it can be difficult to relate with and work with people who differ both physically and mentally. Reciniello offers tips on:

    • Negotiating across differences
    • Achieving communication among disparate groups
    • Teaching respect for each other

    Reciniello touches on minority issues, women in new roles, and the turn toward a more global workforce. She stresses how leaders and workers need to “become more mindful of our attitudes and actions” on the job. She shares several examples from her experiences with large companies that had unsuccessful diversity training initiatives.

    Instead of pointing out differences among employees, she explains how new methods of collaboration can create ties among employees with very different backgrounds:

    In studying how people share knowledge, there is research (Arthur, DeFillippi and Lindsay, 2008, 371-372) that focuses on two methods of collaboration: “bonding –– that is developing strong ties with another person based on similar experiences and shared understanding” and “bridging –– that is making or sustaining a tie with another person” who is likely to be very different in background and experience. There is other research that contends that women are hard-wired for this type of collaboration. It claims that women are overall better than men at reading human visual cues and interpreting the feelings of others, more effective at maintaining relationships and networks, and they prefer to place an emphasis on cooperative as opposed to competitive ventures.

    Women may have this biological edge, but it would also make sense that both women and other minorities might have developed these abilities as a result of the dependencies and relationships they have had to learn to build during their years of being marginalized and constrained. They have come to value the strength of a bond to support and assist, and to rely on building bridges instead of burning them.

    One major point to take away from the chapter is how a company can gain a lot of productivity and increase morale once it is able to embrace the humanity of its workers and bring together collaboration among the truly talented:

    These are the people that will bring life, true creativity and innovation, and the ability to connect across differences, to your companies. Steve Jobs (1996) understood this when he said, “A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

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