The business case for diversity in the workplace is a strong one, whatever sector you’re in. However, organisations often fall into the trap of recruiting people just like them. So what advantages are there to having a more diverse mix of personalities in your company?
The business case for diversity in the workplace is a strong one, whatever sector you’re in.
Let’s review the evidence;
Research by McKinsey shows that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers, while ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to do the same.
But what about diversity in terms of the personalities of the people we recruit into our companies?
Naturally, we tend to get on best with like-minded people; those who behave in the same way as us, who see the world as we do. So it’s no surprise that when it comes to recruitment, we tend to select those similar to ourselves.
You might question whether this is a problem. If everyone is the same, you’ll all get on well and be highly productive, right?
However, in reality, there are many reasons why, like with gender, age and expertise, we need a diverse mix of personalities in the workplace.
The case for personality diversity
Greater diversity of personalities means a greater balance of strengths and weaknesses, and this is important for any company.
Your organisation needs different people to fulfil very different roles; to fit together like a puzzle to drive your business forward. You need risk takers to prompt you to try new things, as well as analytical people who will pay attention to the detail and keep you on the right course.
Imagine if your organisation was full of highly affectionate individuals. On one hand, you’re great at making people feel valued and creating a caring environment. But what about when you have to give feedback and manage some of the more difficult people things you need to do to make your business successful?
Different personalities working together also means a greater variety of perspectives on problems and situations your organisation will inevitably face. If everyone thinks the same, the opportunities for solving a problem will be limited. Ideally, you need different perspectives that can be discussed and debated to allow you to come to the best decision for the business.
A broader variety of people with different strengths also means you can delegate tasks according to what makes people ‘tick’, and in doing so, improve employee engagement and productivity.
For example, if someone is more analytical by nature, it may be that tasking them with data analysis will be a better fit than choosing someone who tends to focus on the big picture and less on the detail. By bringing together people with different talents, you can create a team that’s more powerful than the sum of its parts.
Finally, the personalities of everyone in the workplace affects the morale and atmosphere. And if each person has something to contribute and a different perspective, it can help to create a positive work environment.
Improving personality diversity
First, you need to understand who you currently have in your organisation.
By asking employees to complete a personality questionnaire, you can see where your collective strengths and weaknesses lie. By sharing this information with your teams, you empower people to understand where they need to adapt and flex to meet the requirements of the business. It also enables you to develop coaching plans to help develop people in areas they might be less comfortable, such as presenting, managing or making tough decisions.
When it comes to recruitment, you can align your decision-making with the goals of your business. For example, if you have an organisation full of people who are very flexible but also very indecisive, you may consider recruiting someone who is more goal-oriented and decisive to push your business forward.
However, to enable them to make an impact you need to have a culture in place that allows them to disrupt comfortably. Through coaching and development, you can work on shifting the current culture to meet new personalities halfway.
A wide mix of personalities in the workplace means a greater balance of strengths and weaknesses and better quality decision-making. And it creates a stronger workplace atmosphere where everyone feels they have something to contribute. Personality profiling tools, like Facet5, provide companies with an important snapshot of the personalities that exist within their current organisation, so they can identify where the gaps lie.