Inclusion as the HOW
Most people seem to understand—or at least have heard—that inclusion is important for organizational success. Yet many people are frustrated because, while their organizations may talk about the need for inclusion, very few know how to make it a reality. All too often, people feel excluded and disengaged by interactions that discourage their full participation or the contribution of their ideas or experiences. An organization’s workplace environment is the sum of the behaviors—subtle and not-so-subtle, intentional and unintentional, and often habitual—of all the members of the organization. What this means, therefore, is that to create an inclusive environment, you must start with inclusive behaviors.
What this means, therefore, is that to create an inclusive environment, you must start with inclusive behaviors. Policies, procedures, and initiatives can support such an environment, but an inclusive environment can only be created by the collective use of behaviors that foster inclusive interactions. In our work with organizations across the globe, we have discovered 12 simple behaviors that produce more inclusive interactions among individuals, teams, and work groups. These inclusive interactions, in turn, have been shown to accelerate results and generate higher performance.
Senior Leadership Alignment
Senior leaders play a critical role in the success of Inclusion as the HOW. Their willingness and ability to provide visible, vocal sponsorship to the people of the organization—especially the people who are most closely partnering with them to make Inclusion as the HOW a foundational operating principle (Core Inclusion and Change Partners, Strategy Implementation Partners, Day-to-Day Team Member, and others)—has a direct impact on the speed at which people are willing to join, act, and influence others to practice the Conscious Actions for Inclusion and Inclusive Meeting Norms.
Senior Leaders must also encourage everyone in the organization to challenge old, established norms of interaction and advocate that people at all levels begin shifting the way they interact in service of improving individual, team, and organization performance so that the organization can accomplish its specific goals. Their ability to discuss, set expectations, apply the Conscious Actions for Inclusion and Inclusive Meeting Norms, and hold people accountable for applying them is critical to the acceleration and sustainability of Inclusion as the HOW.
- 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.
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.
The focus of Presence Consulting is accelerating the application of the Conscious Actions for Inclusion and Inclusive Meeting Norms. Presence Consultants attend work meetings, such as Tier meetings, staff meetings, and shift change meetings. They observe, assess leadership actions and group processes, and evaluate individual, group, and systemic effectiveness. Then Presence Consultants add value with real-time comments and suggestions, supporting individuals and groups as they problem solve actual work issues.
Presence Consultants help to slow down interactions so leaders and others can recognize opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills they already innately have or have gained from Inclusion as the HOW educational events or other learning moments. With support and guidance from a Presence Consultant, people are able to apply their skills and learning in day-to-day work situations, accessing what they know but what might not be conscious for them in the moment. In slowing these interactions and assisting people to be conscious of and present in the moment, important application and process improvement can occur and become normative over time, enabling leaders and groups to then speed up, with improved effectiveness and higher levels of performance.
The KJCG Rapid Response Team is your partner for strategy and thinking in tackling organizational challenges. Our team members can arrive at your organization within 24 to 48 hours or sooner. We act as thinking partners to make sure you are solving the right problem, creating quick and effective action. Every organization encounters challenges, even ones that are high performing or a great place to work. Sometimes being part of the system leads to acting quickly to address issues, dealing with the immediate crisis, but not solving the overarching issue. When the root cause is not addressed, the issue is likely to arise again. We can help eliminate or reduce the risk of recurrence of these problems. Our Rapid Response Team brings in a different street corner or perspective to ensure you are doing the right work at the right time.
“We partner with you in helping to make something happen. We are coaches that provide counseling and affirmation,” says Fred Miller, CEO and leader of the KJCG Rapid Response Team. Read more about our Rapid Response Team here.
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.
Mergers and Acquisitions
During mergers and acquisitions, it is imperative to align work cultures and enable people to join together as partners. People need to be recognize that they need one another in order to achieve organizational goals. Our methodology involves building partnership (individual to individual), collaboration (team to team), and an Inclusion as the HOW® mindset (the way the processes operate). Click below to read more about case studies from some past merger/acquisition projects, including a food manufacturer, energy company, business services company, and chemical manufacturer.