Team Diagnostics Case Study

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How to build an inclusive team from the ground up

On the Inc 500 list of fastest growing companies for 3 years in a row, this international service company was hiring at a very brisk pace. In a quarterly strategy session, the CEO and her team were assessing the big picture – including the unintended costs and benefits of the speed of growth on the company and its future. Since people embody our product to customers they asked, how does the overall sales force and managerial structure we are constructing reflect what those customers want? need? expect? Beyond putting talent in the seats, what sort of employee team are we building, and how will that impact who we are 5, 10 years from now?

Committed to diversity as a core value, the company had paid attention to hiring practices with specially designed outreach efforts to attract a wide pool of talent in terms of experience, geographic representation and demographic characteristics.  However, employee satisfaction survey results were consistently underwhelming.  Some of this was inevitable in a high-growth start-up environment, but what could be fixed?

A short consulting engagement with The Impact Seat team led the company to zero in on the talent needed to manage the diverse employee group the company had been attracting. Managers were busy and they didn’t come to the company equipped with inclusion management practices in their playbooks. A short inquiry into who was leaving the company, and why, led to more questions.

Core to improving satisfaction and retention rates, The Impact Seat recommended a first step of educating managers, and their team members, about their own diversity characteristics. Building from The Impact Seat Dimensions of Diversity model, we surveyed employees on key characteristics that differ meaningfully across groups. While we include important demographic factors like sex, ethnicity, age, we also include additional, crucial dimensions of experience, cognitive style, values and institutional context.

Using the results of The Impact Seat’s proprietary diagnostic, Identity Assessment for Diversity Capability Building©, each team can build an understanding of their dominant and outlier characteristics. With this information, the managers, with their teams, can commit to a set of new habits and routines that will include, rather than exclude – for example, to take into account the best processes for extroverts and introverts; the benefits of long industry experience, and the creative spark of right brain thinkers.

Because the diversity profile of each group will differ, the commitments that come out of the diagnostic results will differ.

Beyond the results themselves and the knowledge outcomes they deliver, participating in the manager-team inquiry puts team dynamics up front. And for a company like this, moving beyond their limits at times, having a better handle on the team led to improved satisfaction and an evaluation of higher productivity.