To build or not to build? That’s the inclusion question

InclusionInclusion has become an approach to working with employees that are different or have special needs. Typically inclusion efforts are employed because an organization notices that there is a morale issue within a certain group or within the organization as a whole, a legal challenge has been brought forward against the organization, or there has been an effort to organize a union.   Unfortunately, many of the inclusion or diversity efforts fail because they are reactive tactics used to pacify a group or groups.  Even much of the discrimination and harassment training that exists is utilized to stay out of legal trouble or in direct response to a legal issue.  What a large number of organizations fail to see is that a reactive effort to respond to these types of issues actually alienates and disenfranchises many employees.

Employees do not want to be treated well because they are different.  And employees do not want to be treated well because the organization is afraid of an organizing effort. Employees want to feel respected, included and valued, not sometimes, but consistently.  To demonstrate respect, interest and value in your employees on a consistent basis an organization must develop a strong, clear and productive culture.

When a culture lacks clarity and is ambiguous we create many of our inclusion problems.  Amazingly, human nature generally shows that under stress and in ambiguous situations, we fill in the blanks incorrectly or exaggerate; usually toward the negative.  Individuals tend to infused negative motives on the other person(s) or company and provide opinions as facts to support their perspective.

Two consistent aspects of a strong, clear and productive culture are that it builds trust and reduces fear.

Trust has to do with our Present Interest.  The question we should consistently ask ourselves in different situations is “What is my Present Interest?”  If my Present Interest is truly in others meaning the person in front of me, my team, customer then I will create more trust.  The opposite is also true.  If my focus is on myself, Self Interest, then trust levels will be reduced.  Think of it as a continuum.  The more self-interested we are, the more our relationships will suffer or be superficial.  This is due to the fact that we cannot focus on other people and their needs when we are focused on ourselves.  We just cannot be in two places at once.  The challenge we face is that most of us are naturally self-interested; it is human nature.  Our leaders must role model an interest in others for a culture to be built.

Success is about reducing fear and anxiety.  Everyone wants to be a part of a winning team.  But what makes up a winning team? Success has to do with our Present Motive.  The question we should consistently ask ourselves in different situations is “What is my Present Motive?” or “why am I making this decision?” If my Present Motive is centered on Opportunity, meaning I am focused on what is possible then I will create more success.  The opposite is also true.  If my focus is on Risk, then I am trying to reduce my liabilities and will create less success or achievement. We know that this, too, is a continuum.  The less we are able to work through our fears, the more likely we will be unsuccessful.  There are two reasons for this phenomenon.  The first reason is based on the concept that we cannot focus on opportunities when we are too worried or about risk.  The second reason is if we act on our fear, the very thing we fear most will come true.

The reality is that many of our company cultures have reacted too much to our national culture of litigation.  We spend a great deal of time focusing on how not to get sued or called on the carpet by a government agency.  By responding to the current climate in this way we tend to create the very problem we wanted to avoid.  Cultures that focus on creating an incredible place to work typically have less inclusion problems and less legal issues.

Here are some tips on creating a culture that is more inclusive:

  • Create a leadership development process and program that is mandatory for all leaders
  • Develop a process for selecting the most appropriate leaders and not just promote those who are good individual contributors
  • Ask employees for feedback on a regular basis including the use of 360 feedback tools and engagement surveys
  • Encourage people to talk face to face when possible rather than use email
  • Discourage multi-tasking by asking people to work on the 20% that creates 80% of the impact rather than on everything
  • Transparency. Transparency.  Transparency.  Secrets are cancer.  While you cannot share everything…share as much as you can, as soon as you can.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.  In multiple ways and multiple times.  Messages must be heard often to stick
  • Get to know your employees.  Know who they not just what they do.  We tend to include those we understand.

Remember we spend more time at work then we do with our families.  Our organizations are more than a workplace they are a home. Our organizations should be a place where everyone we hire feels like they have a place and space, feel involved, included and respected. A place where there are shared norms, goals and expectations.  A place where you can feel free to be yourself and are valued for your uniqueness.    And a place where you feel safe.  Ask yourself, how many of our employees consistently feel like they are a part of a family and have a place in our workplace home?

Originally published in: Words on Wise

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