The Inclusive Manager?
As organisations advance the inclusion agenda, investing in the training and development is a key step. Once D&I strategies are in place, policies communicated and network groups established, it is managers that hold the key to becoming an inclusive culture. Through our extensive experience in supporting organisations with manager job design and training, there are key skills that a manager needs to develop.
Treat team members as individuals with individual needs:
The ‘one size fits all’ methodology is a thing of the past. Managers need to get to know their team, their individual needs and how to support them to be the most productive. It is okay to agree different flexible working arrangements depending on the needs of your team. The way you communicate on a 1-2-1 with team members will be different. Adapting your approach to the team is the key to success.
Call out any inappropriate behaviours including banter:
Ignoring inappropriate behaviour is one of the most damaging negative influences in fostering an inclusive culture – seemingly innocent comments can be offensive and counter-productive in developing a cohesive and high performing team. Managers must be on alert and step in immediately – and sensitively – to maintain team harmony.
Be curious and educate yourself about differences in people:
Everyone has individual life experiences. Asking yourself what it is like to be a carer, struggling with mental health, or living as minority group in society, is the beginning of being able to empathise with people as unique beings. Being open minded to the circumstances and choices of others will help you to be inclusive and approachable.
Listen and do not judge:
Listening is one of the most under-rated skills as a manager. Of course your role is to lead and direct but taking into account the views of your team is going to make you a much better manager. The best examples of engaged teams, innovation and ultimately high performance come from a collaborative environment.
Role model inclusive behaviours and set clear standards for appropriate behaviour:
Your team will look to you to set an example of how people behave in the organisation. Demonstrating an interest in people, tolerance for difference and actively encouraging diversity of thought will encourage others to do the same. Taking an active role in the inclusion agenda – being an advocate for network groups, become a mental health first aider or take a lead on a diversity project.
Talk about inclusion as a core part of how you operate:
Inclusion needs to be part of the language of the organisation. Using team briefings as an opportunity to discuss different aspects of inclusion, facilitating discussions about what we mean by inclusion, company policies and diversity activities and importantly how to support colleagues from different walks of life. Weaving inclusion into team discussions and activities, rather than as a stand alone agenda item, is the key to establishing it as part of the culture.
Think about inclusion in how you deliver your services:
Every organisation needs to think about how you ensure you meet the needs of the diverse communities we serve. For some organisations this is an obvious link – such as managing accessibility needs in a retail or hospitality environment. However, we are increasingly seeing organisations think about how they design products for women, how they deliver services for those who don’t speak English as a first language or ensuring that websites are accessible for people with dyslexia. Encouraging your team to think about how they can be more inclusive in how they operate will without doubt help to achieve team objectives.
Accepting that managing diverse teams is not easy – but it is rewarding!
The Clear Company have been working to bring about positive change for 16 years and are recognised as global leaders of inclusive talent management, training, insight and technology.
Established in 2003 clients such as Lloyd’s of London, Highways England, Ofcom, The Civil Service, Co-op and PageGroup have taken significant steps on their inclusion journey, becoming leaders in their sectors around hiring and ongoing talent management.