We pride ourselves in creating software that isn’t cookie cutter by giving you the ability to customize your pages as much as you like. Our company, Webconnex, applies this same principle when hiring team members. Our team is made up of unique individuals who each bring something valuable to the table and who have their own quirks, personalities, experience, and strengths. With this blend of unique team members comes the potential for conflict or friction within our atmosphere. Sure, from time to time we butt heads, however, we have found that our differences actually make us stronger more than they divide us.
We’ve chosen to create a team full of diverse people because it allows our company to be flexible and cover more ground in our positions. You need people with diverse strengths so that more specific roles are filled, and potential weaknesses are offset. It’s important to have people who think differently because they may provide a different perspective. Different personalities keep the team spicy, dynamic, and constantly moving forward.
Not only do you need these differences, but it is essential to create a safe team environment to foster these differences, allowing each member to fully be themselves and bring themselves to the table.
How can you have a strong, successful team full of diverse people without dysfunction?
Whether it’s in relationships, friendships, or coworkers, I’ve found there are three things that help connect different people into smooth unity:
Know that everyone is different. What makes you, uniquely you is going to be vastly different from what makes Bob, uniquely Bob. Each person has their talents mixed with their experience, tainted by their quirks which causes them to offer something different to the table. No combination is better than another, they’re just different — like various flavors in a feast. When you accept that your coworker is different than you, the expectation for them to be similar dissipates. Most dissension stems from expectation — expectations for the people around you to act like you, be like you, think like you. The problem is rarely does anyone work like we do. Accepting that your team members are probably wired differently allows you to be more open to what they actually bring to the table.
To gain understanding, consider what is it that you bring to the table? What is it that your coworker brings to the table? And how are these assets different? Our company recently took the Strengths Finder 2.0 test, and went over each individual’s results as a team. This was immensely helpful in seeing each person’s natural wiring and what makes them tick. For instance, our development team all had ‘strategic’ and ‘learning’ type strengths; they love to learn, grow, and problem solve, which is what we want in our programming team.
We then found our support team primarily had ‘relational’ strengths; they thrive by connecting with people. When you discover how team members tick, you realize they aren’t crazy, they’re just wired a specific way. This ultimately brings understanding to those around you. Yes, every person is different, but knowing your differences will help your team be more strategic and intentional in placing people in their ideal roles within the company. This will allow each individual to serve a specific purpose that contributes to the company’s goal.
Once you begin to accept and learn another’s differences, you begin to actually appreciate these differences. I own that I can’t do everything. I can’t dig through code all day; numbers aren’t exactly my strong suit. Creating detailed, step-by-step reports are practically the death of me. While I may be capable of doing these things, I wouldn’t be able to do them with excellence because they do not fall within my natural strengths and skill-set. However, other people on my team love doing these things. I’m happy to hand off a report to another team member to clean up and send off because he loves creating reports and speaking programmer language. I’m happy to let the programmers dig through code, as I’m sure, they appreciate that I work directly with clients all day. When we each work out of our natural strengths, and we understand what those strengths are, we begin to lean on the other where we are weak, building trust and respect between the team.
As a company, you’re more efficient and cover more ground when you have a very diverse team. The hard part is creating an environment that encourages each person to be unique. You can accept someone’s differences without trying to understand or appreciate them; however without understanding and appreciation, jealousy, gossip, and resentment can fester. Creating an atmosphere that accepts, seeks to understand, and appreciates each individual’s uniqueness actually stops comparison between team members and can breed a healthy team environment.
Realize that others bring something you don’t, while you also bring something they don’t, and altogether we each bring something that contributes to the company’s vision. Creating a diverse team and an environment that fosters individuality will be the strength and glue to your company.