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Wanted: Weirdos and Misfits

8 January

It was so refreshing to hear that the Government’s Chief Advisor is touting for ‘unusual’ applicants, or I quote, ‘weirdos and misfits with odd skills’ to apply for jobs within number 10, with the intention of shaking up the thinking of central government.

It made me think of how we often fall into the trap of a fixed mindset when recruiting to roles in our teams.  We usually have a static job description, a fixed idea of a person specification and as a result we recruit a similar person with a similar story to their predecessor.  Sometimes we are so fixed about the formal qualifications and experience, we also miss an opportunity to find out what unusual skills and talents people can bring to the team.  A type-alike team can be as comfortable as a fluffy pair of slippers but don’t be fooled, comfort is not always a good thing when your team needs to achieve great things.

Working with people who look, talk, think differently to you challenges your brain to step out of its stagnant state and sharpen your focus. It can increase your team’s innovation, improve problem solving skills, keep biases in check, and because a diverse team focuses on facts, they will usually be better at decision making.

I once worked for a team who was described as the biggest bunch of misfits, ‘round pegs in square holes’ who had all seemed to end up in the same place.  We were slightly bonkers and had lots of fun, but there were sometimes irreconcilable differences and distractions in team meetings where the only way to bring people back into the room was to flash your shiny pencil in others’ faces.  A diverse team can add strength, but it is down to the manager to prevent a mishmash of chaos and conflict.

So what’s the secret to managing diverse teams?  How can you make it work for you so that you can take advantage of all the wonderful benefits a diverse team can bring?

Spend time with each other

Nobody likes forced fun at work but there are serious benefits to getting to know each other ‘beyond their lanyard’.  People have a wealth of unique experiences and stories that very rarely get shared at work.  Spend some time getting to know each other so you can build trust and understanding.

Be clear on your team purpose

Diversity is a valuable resource but only if everybody knows why they are here.  Being clear on team purpose will ensure that everyone stays on track despite differences.

Understand strengths

If the whole team know their strengths and how these play out in the team, they will complement and compensate for each other’s gaps.  You can access various individual and team psychometrics from Delve that help you and your team to explore this.

One size does not fit all

Vary how you communicate with your team. Team meetings and brainstorming ideas will be great for the extroverts but won’t get the best out of your introverts.  Find different ways to keep people informed, ask for ideas and seek out opinions.  It isn’t enough just to say, ‘my office door is always open’.

If you would like to find out more about how Delve can help you get the best out of your teams, get in touch.

Written by
Nicola and Sarah

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