Diversity, Open-Mindedness Power Workplaces
The power of any organization is the diversity of its people, skills, and perspectives. Open-mindedness is how you unlock that diversity.
If you want to enable better decision-making, improve problem-solving, and power innovative thinking, your culture must welcome input from all sources, regardless of internal politics. This is about the origin and diversity of ideas. It’s the difference between employees that just follow orders and a culture that actively encourages debate and fresh perspectives.
When you have many people and perspectives united toward one mission, that’s when real magic happens.
In our surveys, only 56% of employees at average organizations say they work in a culture of open-mindedness. But at Top Workplaces, this jumps to as high as 88%.
• Make sure everybody gets a chance to speak, even if they’re typically quiet.
• Encourage and celebrate opinions of all kinds, even if you don’t agree with them.
• Invite someone to provide a new perspective for your next meeting.
• Make sure people know it’s okay to be wrong or offer unfinished ideas — as long as they’re okay taking the time to talk to other people to refine the plan.
What to Watch For
• Ideas are often overlooked because of the person they come from, often without anyone really noticing that’s why it happened. To move past implicit bias, try a way to encourage confidential conversations.
• Employees or teams that will be impacted by a decision should have at least one representative in the room where that decision is made.
• Different or challenging points of view are wonderful learning opportunities that are often dismissed.
• Sometimes, subtle things like tone or body language can discourage employees from speaking up.
Big Picture Plans
• Make continuous improvement a standing agenda item for all standing meetings.
• Encourage people to share potentially unpopular ideas.
• For each meeting, look around the room. Does everybody have the same background or goals? Do you have representatives for each team impacted by the decision you plan to make? Consider introducing more people.
• Consider diversity or implicit bias training for your managers and recruiters.
Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2019. Energage is The Washington Post’s research partner for Top Workplaces.