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Don't Leave Talent Untapped - Tips for Managers of Culturally Diverse Teams

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Thu Nov 15 2012

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The U.S. workforce is more diverse than ever.  Traditionally, organizations recognize and reward employees who show talent – which is often synonymous with those who speak the most eloquently and expressively about their work and effectively showcase their accomplishments.  

As the workforce explodes in numbers of women and ethnically diverse populations, especially in knowledge-intensive work, it is critically important for managers to understand the untapped potential of this workforce – and to realize that many of these highly talented individuals prefer not to showcase their work publicly, based on their cultural upbringing and traditions.  They may talk very little in team meetings, may not come and socialize with you in your office, or even purposely not bring up concerns or issues, but their knowledge and potential run deep.  Managers need to know learn how to tap into this talent.  Here are some ideas:

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  1. At team meetings, invite the quieter team members to provide their perspectives.  Better yet, let them know you want to hear from them before the meeting so that they can come prepared with their thoughts.

  2. Speak privately with these individuals because they may not want to bring up controversial topics in public. Often these individuals can provide critical perspectives and pieces of information.

  3. Take them out to “neutral” places, like lunches, to discuss how things are going, explicitly asking what is going well and what can be improved.

  4. Support and reward them for making recommendations in public settings.  Discuss ways to “cue them” to speak up in meetings and publicly recognize their suggestions to encourage them to speak up in the future.

  5. Set up a reward system for these individuals that recognize their suggestions.

Getting the most out of our ever diverse workforce requires managers to start with the end in mind, understanding desired outcomes and developing tailored strategies to motivate and encourage their team and employees

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