Cognitive diversity matters.
In my last blog post about my book Work That Works, I highlighted the positive role that different thinking and behavioral preferences have on problem solving and performance. I also shared tips to build a cognitively diverse team and help them work together effectively.
Often, after I discuss the topic of cognitive diversity, the first question I hear is: What if my team isn’t cognitively diverse?
This question is followed quickly by: How can I still get great outcomes?
The optimal thing to do to spur innovation and business success is to add new employees who will provide different perspectives to your team. However, I recognize that is not always a possibility due to budget constraints, job applicants or, as is often the case in smaller companies, the size of your teams.
In these instances, we must think creatively to unleash our team’s full potential, which is what I discussed in my book in Principle #5: Using the Power of WE.
In this chapter, I speak to a number of tools that you can use to help your team consider perspectives outside of their own.
One of the most practical options is to use your collective Emergenetics Profiles to guide your discussions. You can even ask your Emergenetics Associate to generate a group report of the current make up of your team, which can illuminate any thinking or behavioral preferences that may be underrepresented so you can ask questions to address these Attributes.
We use this approach in our meetings with our Senior Management team each week. Even though we have a cognitively diverse team, we still utilize our group report to eliminate bias and ensure that we consider every thinking and behavioral preference when we evaluate a new business opportunity, project or challenge.
Let me offer an example.
Imagine you are drafting a communication for a new training and development program that you are rolling out at your organization.
Your Talent Development team consists of you and one other person. Your teammate has Social and Conceptual thinking preferences and is third-third in all of their behaviors. You have Structural and Social thinking preferences and are second-third in all of your behaviors.
If the communication is approached only from your and your colleague’s perspectives, you may unintentionally overlook the needs of your Analytical thinkers or those who have first-third behaviors.
Using the Emergenetics Profile as your guide, consider the needs and perspectives of each Attribute to bring a cognitively diverse approach to building your communication:
- Analytical thinkers will likely want to know the results that similar organizations have seen when using this training and development program.
- Structural thinkers will want to review an agenda of the course to understand what will be discussed.
- Social thinkers will be interested in understanding how the program will support their teammates as well as themselves.
- Conceptual thinkers will be excited to learn about how this program supports the overall vision for leadership development at your organization.
- To appeal to first-third Expressiveness, offer an opportunity to provide feedback on the program via a survey, and offer an option for in-person feedback to appeal to those with a preference for third-third Expressiveness.
- To gain buy-in from first-third and third-third Assertiveness preferences alike, highlight that the course is self-paced so participants can go as slowly or as quickly through the material as they would like.
- For those in the first-third of Flexibility, highlight why this program was introduced so they understand the reason for the change. For those in the third-third, foster enthusiasm by promoting the expanded options that employees now have for leadership development.
Make notes as you go to reflect the perspectives of each Attribute. Then, as you create your messages, check off each point so you know your communications will appeal across thinking and behavioral preferences.
Using a Whole Emergenetics approach (WEapproach), you will achieve better outcomes and help your team become more comfortable with flexing outside of their own preferences, which is an important skill for each of us to master!
For more ideas about fostering cognitive diversity even if you don’t have a full WEteam, I encourage you to purchase my book Work That Works by visiting www.emergenetics.com/workthatworks.
In the meantime, I’ll be working on my next blog highlighting Principle #6: Let Your People Live to Work, Not Work to Live.