Thursday, May 18, 2017

CORPORATE SUFI: Unity in diversity vital for success

Azim Jamal

Azim Jamal 

By Azim Jamal

Positive Disruption the Corporate Sufi Way is a powerful force. It entails totally rethinking how you and your team approach business.

With the trend of open and digital economies, business expansion, and growth of labor migration, the new workforce is becoming increasing global in nature.

Disruption of cultures, ideas, belief systems, and market dynamics, while being the new normal, also is one of the key drivers of innovation.

Flexibility and creativity are keys to competitiveness. Organizations looking forward to thriving in the new world order need to attain an optimum balance of energies between different groups of people to leverage the competitive advantage of a diverse workplace and drive business success. The success of a leader now has evolved beyond engaging and energizing a particular set of people to inspiring a force that includes a diverse group of people.

It’s like walking a tightrope of assorted emotions, beliefs, ideas and practices.

Let’s look at some ways on how leaders can inspire, engage and create a balance between diverse groups of people to create a future-fit organization.

1. Pay due attention to culture complexities – Companies that try to replicate their global practices without adequate alignment with local work ethos and culture struggle with poor employee engagement and performance. The failure of Walmart in Germany is an apt example of cultural sensitivities not being understood in advance.

2. Be welcoming and open to differences – An organization must be able to foster an environment of dialogue, discussion, and collaboration as well as an opportunity to dissent or disagree if required. For example, the creation of break spaces in the office, where people can collect during their free time and share information and experiences can serve as a powerful tool for enhancing team understanding and acceptance. Another idea is to create group activities and celebrations, where diverse groups are encouraged to know more about the other’s culture and history. Also, reward ideas that emerge out of divergent thinking to encourage a free exchange of ideas. The idea should not be to ignore the differences; rather to learn what best can be adopted from them.

3. Build an inclusive work culture – Diverse groups, whether of age, geography or cultural background consume and perceive information differently giving rise to an increased possibility of miscommunication and conflict. Framing a well-rounded work culture with well-articulated “smart” goals is key. This will create a sense of shared purpose and clear paths among team members. In turn, a well-defined set of ground rules will go a long way to enhancing clarity and understanding about the expected deliverables. Further, such a structure should flow on to other foundational processes including a commitment to diversity in hiring, advancement, compensation, and retention.

4. Keep frequent communication to build team unity - The leader needs to not only believe but also truly embrace the understanding that a more diverse and inclusive work environment can yield greater productivity and help improve individual and organizational performance. Only a deep understanding will lead to a transparent and frequent sharing of objectives, ideas and rationale to help unite people from different backgrounds.