The past year has been extremely difficult for so many. With the pandemic, the tools we use to conduct business have taken a sharp turn towards virtual, making it increasingly difficult to truly connect to each other as team members and human beings. As we move forward in 2021, it is imperative that those in leadership positions transform their work environment with the power of purpose and love and an eye for diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
Architect, futurist, and innovator, Oshoke Abalu invites society to embrace the idea of looking at our communities like symphonies, especially in the workplace. It takes an amalgamation of different instruments, each showcasing their own unique talents and strengths to create a symphony. It’s not only the different types of instruments in the orchestra that create this masterful meshing of sounds and soul, but the notes that each musician gives life to. Imagine a workplace where every human being and employee is recognized and valued for their unique voices and where all of those voices can come together in harmony. This would look a lot like inclusion, which for Abalu is more than just diversity. Simply having a variety of instruments is not enough to form a world class orchestra or a beautiful musical arrangement. The orchestra must discover the right mesh of all these elements in order to succeed. The same principle applies when discussing inclusion practices in the workplace. Abalu puts forth the idea that inclusion is both a conversation of the heart, and a celebration of individual strengths coming together for a larger purpose.
At Reloveution, we can help you transform your workplace into a masterful symphony, and we invite you to try the following four things to build an inclusive and powerful space for all.
Hire the “Right” People
Ensure Alignment & Check In
Work Through the Noise
Hire the “Right” People
If the goal is to transform organizations into symphonies, companies must ensure that they are hiring the “right” people.This means being intentional about not only recruiting diverse, talented ‘musicians’ who play their instruments well, but also finding players who fit and improve the depth of the organization’s unique sound. It is also important for your company to be a good fit for the person you’re looking to hire. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy, especially because implicit bias often impedes the effectiveness of hiring processes. To build an inclusive company, we recommend leaders ask themselves a series of questions:
How does your organization typically go about recruiting new talent?
Is the method you currently use truly helping you find the right people for roles and your company culture?
How do you know who the right people even are? Who makes those decisions?
The next step is to ask how and where bias might creep into your answers to the above questions.
Are your job descriptions inclusive and accessible to people of varying backgrounds and abilities?
Are applications screened by multiple people with unique lenses? If you use a program to screen applicants, is the algorithm designed to favor or exclude people based on characteristics that are not essential to the job? Who designed the algorithm?
When people come to interview with you, are they greeted by people who look like them or who share similar backgrounds?
The recruiting process and the ways that bias impacts it not only impacts the types of candidates who apply to roles and are hired, but also impacts the quality, sound, and overall inclusiveness of your symphony. If your current hiring system is not helping you find the “right” candidates, it's time to re-evaluate (from the job description to the onboarding process), because the “right” talent is out there, it just takes the effort to find them.
Ensure Alignment & Check In
To find extraordinary talent and construct an award-winning symphony, not only do leaders need to find the right people, but they must also ensure that those people are in the right seats and able to use their unique strengths to advance their work and their team. In other words, make sure that the people who are working with you (whether they've been working for you for twenty days or twenty years), are aligned with your organization's vision, purpose, and values.
This starts with the onboarding process. It’s important that from the moment someone becomes a part of your organization, they feel included. Taking the time to create an organized and inclusive onboarding process will provide your employees with a smoother transition and allow them to better connect to their new role as well as to their team as a whole. To recruit without a good onboarding process would be like adding a new musician to your organization’s orchestra without giving them sheet music or time to rehearse with their fellow musicians. Make sure to set expectations for how you’d like your team to work together, and give newer recruits time to adjust to the group dynamic.
It’s also important to check in with your employees throughout their first few weeks and months on the job. Make sure they are in a position that showcases their skills in the best way for both them and your business to succeed. If not, take note, and be prepared to make adjustments.
Taking the time to make sure all of your employees are in the ‘right seats’ within your orchestra and recalibrating in real time will be much more beneficial for all parties involved, and get you one step closer to transforming your workplace into an inclusive symphony.
Work through the noise.
Even with all the right instruments and musicians in play, things aren’t always in perfect harmony. The same can be said about relationships within the workplace. When bringing a variety of talents together to serve a singular purpose, you may find you hit a few ‘sour’ notes. Conflict in the workplace is a common occurrence, but part of being in a leadership role means taking an active role in addressing dissonance and conflict head-on.
If your goal is inclusion, it's important to tune your ear to new sounds. Something that appears sharp or flat to you, may just be the sound of an alternate perspective. Bias can creep in when we attempt to control, silence or temper the various viewpoints and tones within our symphony. In inclusive workplaces, employees are encouraged and feel safe communicating their feelings and concerns when disharmony, conflict, or misunderstandings arise. The key is to listen and respond in earnest to what we hear. To avoid being the tone deaf conductor, we encourage you to seek help from others in order to work through the noise, and find the song. We have a responsibility to power through the cacophony of discord until we find a sound that is authentic to you and your musicians. Conflicting melodies can be quite beautiful, and although the goal is a beautiful piece of music, you may find that your definition of beautiful is not the only one that counts. There’s often more than one way to get the job done and sometimes making ‘noise’ is essential to getting there.
As you work through the noise that accompanies creating a more inclusive workplace, make sure to recalibrate regularly. Check in with your team and make sure things are coming together and working in a way that ensures individual talents and passions can shine through among the group. If not, see what adjustments may need to be made going forward and do the hard work of making those adjustments in real time, even when they may be uncomfortable, unpleasant, or frustrating.
True diversity and inclusion means encouraging people to show up in their own uniqueness. It means more than simply making space for minorities in the workplace; it's filling a missing space in the collective narrative to create something amazing. To do this, leaders and companies must be ready to make the changes necessary to truly transform their workplaces. Review your recruitment process and make sure you are taking steps to actively recognize where bias may be stopping you from finding incredible candidates. Be cognizant of how your employees’ talents are being represented and make sure they are in the ‘right seats’ within your company’s orchestra. At moments of disharmony, learn to actively listen to your employees to help decipher the noise and discover your organization’s unique sound. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes, or recalibrate when dynamics don’t feel right. It will be worth it!
When you’re ready to start building and powerfully conducting your organization’s symphony, we’re here! Learn more at www.truereloveution.com and/or book a free connection call with us at http://bit.ly/reloveutionconsultation.
Maya Hamilton is a Communications & Marketing Apprentice with Reloveution seeking full-time employment at the time of this posting.