When people facilitate differences on a stage set for diversity mental assets play key roles.
To celebrate diversity as an asset rather than tolerate differences as deficit, is to first set the stage for high-performance outcomes. MITA mentoring interventions set that stage with diverse brains in mind.
In October 2010, McKinsey Quarterly, Aaron DeSmet, Monica McGurk, and Elizabeth Schwartz, wrote:
Training can go wrong in all kinds of ways. But the most important failures occur outside the classroom. By focusing on creating a receptive mind-set for training before it happens—and ensuring a supportive environment afterward—companies can dramatically improve the business impact of their training programs.
To ensure a positive impact, MITA brain based diversity programs first reframe mental approaches to differences. Unfortunately, training is too often seen by workers as something that is done to dolphins or dogs. In contrast, brain based skills require diverse talents and interactive negotiations. All sessions engage personal thought, where visible improvements are based on each one’s unique mix of intelligences, and on people’s preferred applications.
1. Spot the brain’s role in differences
Apply brainpower in incremental steps, until people catch a zest for differences. Before participants will toss more brainpower into the ring or cheer on differences, for example, they must experience how diversity helps to improve their performance. To recognize that their own skills for engaging differences are weak, could be the first step in choosing change. While most diversity programs overlook brainpower prerequisites, it rarely pays to simply assume participants have cultivated brain based skills to facilitate differences at work.
Research shows how patterns of skepticism, cultivated through flawed training sessions, become inescapable barriers to mental growth. The effects are sadly reminiscent to anyone who has attended a training event, where cynicism or bullying sabotage the topics or diminish others with opposing views. The opposite is to actively engage learners, to come with an open mind, learn from those who express different views and build kaleidoscope approaches to replace rigid routines that block multiple views.
Before launching any diversity program, why not facilitate participants to identify devalued differences that could improve the organization if accommodated. Whenever a group first agrees on the need for change, they become more willing to work together to build new skills in the direction of progress. The brain based method is to include participants in addressing existing performance problems, offering newly discovered brain facts that could inform solutions, and developing together smart skills to address these problems.
To observe good customer service based on valuing diversity, teams might visit the Wegmans‘ food industry, for instance, to see why they win awards years at Forbes for valuing people as capital. Next, participants might implement a shared approach to capitalizing on differences in one organizational area. Using these newly shaped skills, including guidelines for new employees, participants begin to track progress through such measurable traits as employee and customer satisfaction. Or they track new skill’s impact to the organization’s bottom line. Tracking could be as straight forward as an organization’s ability to retain and promote minority populations.
To spot the brain’s differences, and to design tactics to capitalize more on people’s unique strengths, is to set the stage for skills that increase brainpower and remove barriers and gain more from hidden or unused talents that come to light in differences.
2. Identify mental toxins to change.
People tend to carry cynicism into new sessions if time had been wasted in training previously, or if the results were sabotaged before they could generate visible improvements. For instance, people often tell us that changes were imposed, or improvements lacked support, or a few dominated, or management refused to roll sleeves up to join the process. No wonder new skills get shot down before they fly with strengths differences can add. No wonder diversity’s advances remain lackluster after training session.
To figure out what toxins kill diversity is to begin to remove roadblocks to growth from differences as strengths. Five troubling toxins kill diversity. First, people continue to use flawed methods they’d already learned, in spite of incompetent results. Second, some feel threatened by newcomers with unique talents and trust erodes. Third, follow-through fails to apply new skills learned, and that leads to wasted time in training, and jaded mind-sets. Fourth, progress is not tracked as a way to inspire continued growth, so old habits simply return. Fifth, some dominate and impose narrow-minded views, and diverse thinkers simply leave rather than protest.
To identify toxins that kill benefits from differences, is to target the growth areas that mark highly successful diversity settings.
3. Build from differences across silos
The best way to ensure that newly developed skills stick when diversity sessions end, is to design support structures for different people to reflect together on their own progress in aiding or abetting change. Once employees agree on skills that set change in motion, sustainability comes from engaging different strengths across previously isolated silos.
For example, when supervisors meet with people in different departments to resolve a shared problem, doors open for unique talents to propose novel initiatives. Improvements come far faster to those who engage new participants in new ways of working together. Improvements are sustained when different players design relevant processes together to leverage the diversity program’s skills explicitly.
To emphasize the significance of implementing new skills across differences, organizational leaders will want to model a willingness to engage multiple intelligences! Especially across traditional separations. Leaders who act as role models for diversity, tend to reinforce new behavior best after brain based skills applied. Dynamically improved performance emerges by applying shared skills, that often start with leaders’ examples.
It’s not easy to help an organization shift from a few valued and many held at bay, into a dynamic workforce. Imagine an organization, where multiple intelligences pull together for a shared vision with far wider dividends evident, and you see what brain based diversity skills can add.
How does your stage engage diverse players for mentoring interventions?