We see Inclusion as a HOW—how the culture makes it safe for people to bring their different ideas, perspectives, and talents, how teams interact more effectively to drive greater collaboration and innovation, how an organization aligns its culture with its strategies for higher operational performance. We co-create a strategy for this HOW with our clients to meet their individual business needs. Below are examples of methods we have used with past clients.
Creating Interaction Safety
Creating the foundation for greater trust, inclusion, and collaboration in the workplace to enhance and assist the success of the agile organizations of tomorrow.
Organizations have to be agile to survive the increasingly fast-paced and competitive market AND they need to have a culture of trust and inclusion established so that people can share their “not-yet-formed/half-baked” thoughts.
Our work with Senior Leadership Teams is focused on giving them the foundational skills necessary to successfully lead using Inclusion as the HOW in their site/function. This is accomplished through several activities:
- Conducting education and strategy sessions for teams, focusing on how they are interacting as a team, upskilling team members with regard to practicing the Conscious Actions for Inclusion and Inclusive Meeting Norms, and highlighting ways they can provide sponsorship to the site/function.
- Providing direct coaching and guidance to the leaders who are selected to act as Executive Sponsors of the effort. The Executive Sponsors have a higher degree of accountability for providing visible support of Inclusion as the HOW.
- Establishing Leadership Pods to support the development of Senior Leaders’ skill at modeling the Conscious Actions for Inclusion and Inclusive Meeting Norms by providing a safe environment in which leaders can practice new behaviors and hear honest feedback to support their development.
Presence Consulting accelerates the rate at which people apply the inclusive mindsets and Conscious Actions for enhanced organization, team, and individual effectiveness and higher operational performance.
Presence Consultants attend meetings to observe interactions; assess leadership actions and group processes; and evaluate individual, group, and systemic effectiveness. Presence Consultants add value with real-time, in-the-moment comments and suggestions, supporting individuals and groups as they work to problem solve actual work situations.
Presence Consultants help important application and process improvement occur and become normative by:
- Slowing down workplace interactions so people can recognize opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills they already have innately or have gained from educational events or other learning moments;
- Having the leaders they partner with apply new skills in daily work situations, reminding them of what they know, but what might not be conscious for them in the moment;
- Helping people to be conscious of and present in the moment; and
- Enabling leaders and groups speed up but with improved effectiveness and higher levels of performance.
Rather than methodically cascading education and information down through the levels of an organization or taking a training approach that often favors breadth over depth, we have found that identifying and developing a core group of people and giving them the tools and competencies they need to interact differently in their daily work greatly speeds the rate and effectiveness of change.
Our process focuses on identifying the key influencers whose actions can create momentum and build natural followership around inclusive behaviors. These people participate in an intensive education series that positions them as “advocates” and role models for inclusive behaviors. They become the leading edge for the desired culture—not people who are always perfect, but active learners who are leaning in, experimenting, and helping to bring others along with them. Their role is not to become trainers, but rather to engage their peers and colleagues in the new behaviors in their day-to-day interactions.
These actions act as accelerants for change, helping inclusive behaviors “go viral.” The analogy we use is that members of this core group act as pebbles dropped in a pond—they create ripples on the surface and, as others learn from their interactions, they create ripples of their own, building critical mass and propagating change more dynamically.
For people to do their best work as individuals and members of well-functioning teams, they need to have a sense of belonging; to feel recognized, respected and valued for who they are; and to experience supportive energy from their leaders, colleagues and others enabling them to contribute and grow (Miller & Katz, 2002).
When inclusion makes space for the uniquely different perspectives and skill sets present in the workforce and enables an environment that encourages and facilitates free-flowing interaction and collaboration between and among people from all backgrounds, divisions, disciplines and hierarchical levels of the organization, that organization can deliver faster and cheaper and more innovatively than before.
Implementing a change process that values inclusive mindsets and behaviors is one of the most effective paths for increasing productivity and innovation in today’s organizations.The results speak for themselves. In the dollars-and-cents numbers of return-on- investment, and in the energy and commitment that shows on the faces of people as they work together, inclusive practices produce results that can no longer be called “soft.” The only real words to describe them are “good business.”
Most C-suite members and other leaders understand that ongoing development and practice are prerequisites for continuing their own growth. This allows leaders to continue to do their best work in addressing the complexity of today’s organizations and managing the challenges they face on a daily basis.
Just like athletes, leaders need practice and the right coaching to stay at the top of their game or improve their game. Yet we also know that leaders must be careful with what they share and with whom. In fact, many of the thoughts, concerns and doubts leaders grapple with should not be shared with others in the organization. Leaders need opportunities to rehearse, think out loud, and bounce ideas off a Thinking Partner who will hold their confidence and who does not have a vested interest beyond what is best for the leader and the leader’s success in the organization.
We have coached and been Thinking Partners to executives and leaders in organizations of all sizes and across many industries. As Thinking Partners we bring decades of experience as strategic partners and confidants. Having a good coach and Thinking Partner is critical for leaders to have the safety to learn, grow and accelerate organizational results.
Assessment, Measurement, and Analysis
One of the many challenges raised about D&I efforts is in how to measure success. Today we are seeing a greater range of metrics and measures to assess progress with respect to diversity targets and goals; however, connecting diversity and inclusion (D&I) change efforts to the bottom line continues to be a challenge for most organizations and change agents.
The good news is that there is a growing sophistication with respect to how organizations are framing and thinking about D&I efforts and their impact. As these efforts become more integrated into business processes—as they become a way of doing business—how they are measured becomes more integrated into the work of the organization as well. Leaders and change agents pay careful attention to the business measures that suffer when people are not included and interacting effectively, then monitor how those measures change as D&I efforts unfold.
Most leaders today want an organization that is “alive and kicking” and “connected and collaborative.” Whether the measures that matter are significantly increasing production, quality, innovation or reducing errors or costs, these examples demonstrate that inclusion does make a difference in performance.
Read about nine examples of measurable, bottom-line results achieved through the implementation of total systems change efforts to create inclusive workplace practices and interactions that leverage differences.