Diversity, a normality?

Diversity, is it always easy to handle?

Anna Star


Of course, diversity is important – but are we really as tolerant as we think we are? And what should companies do? A (self)criticism.

Diversity: Do we really like it that much?

Every morning, I’m happy about my neighbor sitting in my office. That she understands me, even if I keep silent in the morning. About the fact that we prepare documents in a similar way (understandable for us) and that cooperation is therefore always so easy for us.

And then comes the morning man. And talks (too much). Or the cryptic speaker, of whom you have to interpret every metaphor first. The ambitious double partner in tennis who moans (too) loudly with every stroke or the (too) esoteric girlfriend whose mood swings can hardly be controlled.

All people I value so much; friends, family, colleagues. Don’t get me wrong, I like these people. They mean the world to me. But in the early morning I like best the person who communicates as (little) as I do. In particularly stressful times, I like the person to whom I don’t have to explain everything three times best. So much for diversity.

The advantage of more diversity is obvious. But…

Everyone talks about diversity in teams, because the synergies of different characters are obvious: Successful tandems of calm, technically experienced experts and extroverted sales people are not just a cliché. And yet new employees are often hired after the “personal fit” because they “fit so well into the team”. And this does not mean that the extremely introverted team fits a particularly extroverted character. It’s funny, you’ve invited the applicant with the most exotic experiences and yet diversity usually ends with the debriefing of the interview.

Different characters can complement each other perfectly; pragmatists help the expert around a complex mental corner, ramp sows champion the ideas of less spirited creative minds and bureaucrats ensure that everything goes the right way. But too much diversity can also lead to tensions, misunderstandings and loss of time due to long explanations.

We should address the challenges of diversity – in recruiting and at the employee level.

It is gratifying to see that many companies are increasingly recognizing the challenges associated with diversity and that human resources development is increasingly focusing on human cooperation and communication in addition to professional training. Personality-based training can help teams get to know each other better and work together better. However, this requires an atmosphere of openness, honesty and tolerance. We have to acknowledge and tolerate ourselves and others with their peculiarities. At least that’s how it went in my team – with great success.

It’s important to show examples of good diversity management

There is no single solution for challenges related to diversity in teams. “It depends,” one might say, on the nature and goal of the team and on the nature and extent of the differences. For my part, I now just take half an hour more time at home in the morning and drink a cup of coffee more. Since then it’s also possible with the morning people.