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Today, businesses havebecome more diverse than ever, with people from various backgrounds &cultures adding immense value to every organization.

In fact, workplacediversity enables project managers to leverage new skills and methods to solveproblems. It also improves creativity by fostering diverse points of view andideas. According to a study byMcKinsey & Co, companies with diversity are 35% more likely to performbetter than the ones without. Here are 7 ways projectmanagers can lead a diverse team effectively.1. Have an open-door policyDifferent people like toraise issues in different manners, and not always in an open forum. As a projectmanager, it’s essential to understand their concerns and remove the barriers.It will help your project team be comfortable with ambiguity, especially whenthey’re working virtually and across borders.

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The key is to be seen as someonewho genuinely listens to, and acts upon the concerns of their diverse teams. 2. Invest time to learn about themThe only way you canidentify and appreciate the diverse talents of your project team is by gettingto know them. Spend time asking your team members about their background, theireducational experiences, their family environment and what motivates them. Suchquestions will help you quickly identify common interests, making it easy towork together. It will also help you understand how you’re different and can complementeach other. 3. Build a common team cultureWhen you lead a diverseproject team, there are bound to be occasional conflicts and a project managermust be equipped to handle them.

Create a set of ground rules that helps themunderstand what consistencies to expect among all the differences theyexperience. Otherwise, misunderstandings will often escalate to conflict. Forexample, make sure that you evenly spread project tasks among your team basedon their skills. Be objective when it comes to setting task deadlines withoutpatronizing anyone. Also, conduct the same training program for everyone, forany given project role (e.g software developer), regardless of theirbackground, gender or race. This will ensure that no one feels discriminated orleft out.

 4. Communicate regularlyTeam members appreciateopenness and sincerity from their project managers. Share the thoughts,feelings and rationale behind your decisions to unify your team. Be upfrontabout the situation and involve your team members as much as possible. Thiswill give them a sense of inclusion and make everyone feel like they’re a partof the team.

If your project team is not part of the decision-making process,then it might get lost in communication what they need to do to make your projecta success. 5. Take a stand against inappropriate behaviorEven when no one has voiceda complaint, if you find someone say or do anything inappropriate, don’t let itpass. For example, everyone in your team might laugh about a sexist joke, but thatdoesn’t mean it’s an appropriate behavior. Not addressing the issue will send thewrong signal to your project team.

Although it might be slightly uncomfortableto deal with immediately, members of your team would appreciate your attentionand morale. This makes for an overall better work environment. 6.

Educate your teamIf you just hired a teammember from an underrepresented community, then it’s very likely that they’vebeen surrounded by people who are different from them, for most of their life. Soit’s essential to educate your project team on how to make their new colleaguefeel welcome. For example, before the new member joins your project, have asmall team meeting explaining why you hired this person – what skills impressedyou, what project role you’ve envisioned for them and how they’ll add value toyour project. This will produce a sense of fairness and parity among teammembers, and create respect for the new joinee. Also, design project tasks thatrequires each team member to work with your new employee, so they get to knoweach other and bond well. 7.

Determine your own biasesMany times, we mightinadvertently indulge in biases that we may not even know that we have. Theymight be due to our own prejudices, background, culture, or even pastexperiences. It’s essential to identify them early on to avoid future pitfalls.For example, whether it’s an impromptu discussion, a mentoring session or aperformance review, see if you’re spending more time with specific teammembers, who are similar to you or from a majority community.

 Take an online test to learn about the various ‘unconscious’ biases in theworkplace. This will help you identify your own biases and effectively dealwith them. Wrapping upTeamworkis the result of integration, not isolation.

By creating a positive environmentthat encourages open communication and mutual respect, you’ll be able to builda high-performing project team with a rich set of skills and ideas. However, asa project manager, it’s important to understand that no matter how experiencedyou are, it’s very likely that you’ll occasionally encounter some difficultsituations. In such cases, reach out to the company HR or your own mentors foradvice. The key is to build a great rapport with your team members to enablethem to deliver great performance.

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