Every team has its challenges when different viewpoints are brought together. As a leader, it can be difficult to know how to navigate these challenges, regard different perspectives in a healthy way, and try to unite your team at the same time.
I put together a few tips that I have found helpful in keeping a team working smoothly, even with many different beliefs in the mix.
It all starts with respecting one another. It doesn’t matter whether people or even you disagree with your employee’s beliefs and values. Disagreement does NOT have to mean conflict. Nor does it mean having to disrespect those who disagree with you. The best thing to do is to accept that you disagree and treat each other with respect.
Unite Rather than Divide
There are so many things that can unite us, so it’s pointless to focus instead on what divides us. As you interact with your employees, remember that you are setting the example of unity within your group. If something comes up that could divide your group, steer the conversation back to what unites it.
Open Communication Is Key
Whether we like it or not, everyone has a bias. We all see things through our own lens. We may be completely unaware of these biases. By fostering a culture of open and honest communication, this bias can be identified and rectified quickly, rather than letting it fester into something that could break your group. Shane Green, author of Culture Hacker says, “One of the important responsibilities for the modern company is to create an environment where open communication is encouraged and that, more importantly, people are listened to.” Set the example of open communication while still showing respect and your team will follow.
Canceled! (But Maybe Not)
Cancel culture is a newer phenomenon where something or someone can be “canceled” because of a mistake, whether intentional or not. It’s important to resist ‘cancel culture’ in the workplace. It is toxic and it will never benefit your team, your stakeholders, your customers, or your community. Instead, approach the situation with honesty, respect, and open communication to come to a healthy resolution.
Everyone makes mistakes. You will, too. The important thing, when someone makes a mistake, is to extend them the grace you would hope would be extended to you. Allow them the benefit of the doubt and, when combined with the other tips in this list, will lead to a better understanding of both sides and a happier work environment.
Guide the Conversation
There will inevitably be a topic of discussion that comes up which could lead to divisiveness and fighting. It’s your job to steer the conversation back to something positive. You may consider setting up some rules for your team about what topics you would prefer they not talk about at work. This is another area where you have to take the reins and show them what is appropriate and what is not. If the conversation can’t remain respectful and productive, it’s best to redirect it.
Lead by Example
Building an ethical, positive company and culture has to start from the top. Your employees are a mirror into what you can do better. They look to you as their example of how they should be acting at work and with each other. By incorporating these tips in your day-to-day interaction with them, you are showing that you care about the culture of your company. You will demonstrate that tolerance, respect, and honesty are valued and that will ultimately benefit you.
There are many ways an employee or team lead can improve the culture of their group. By trying out these tips you are showing a dedication to positivity in your work environment, and it will benefit everyone around you.