Monday, April 16, 2012

Leading a diverse team-Converging a Divergent conversation

If group think is the risk with non-diverse teams then endless debate can be the "dark side" of diverse teams.  So how does a leader of a diverse global team avoid endless debate? 
As I mentioned in my 16 March blog, governance must be clear.. There a number of different organizational design models for global organizations. This link gives an overview of several. In whatever structure a leader finds themselves in it's very like to contain some sort of matrix....a "hard" reporting line and a "dotted" line. In short, this often means serving two masters, sometimes with competing interests. It has to be crystal clear "who gets to decide" in any of the structures. Until you get that right "endless debate" is likely.
Assuming the governance is sorted out, the leader must make it clear that although different views are valued, consensus is not required.  This can be very difficult in some national or company cultures where consensus is expected and every team member believes they have a veto on every issue.  It's also important to be clear when debate isn't helpful...when a decision has already been taken .  It's ok to debate the most effective way to implement a decision, but don't fall into the trap of debating a decision that has already been taken.  To that end it's effective to identify the purpose of agenda items on team meetings as  "tell", "discuss" or "decide" .  This sets expectations.  It's good for team members to understand what's expected and occasionally necessary to remind them in the heat of controversial topics.  The effective leader also needs to develop a sense of when everything that needs to be said has been said and she has all the voices in the room.  That should be a trigger to converge.  A final technique is that if the leader is not comfortable with deciding in the moment and they have time, you can charter a sub-group of the team to do a deeper dive on an issue and report back.

No comments:

Post a Comment