A Diverse Team Counters Complacency

Posted on by Leave a Comment

A colleague handed me a book the other day. The cover looked like a children’s book and the title did little to dispel that impression: A Peacock in the Land of Penguins.  Like many business books in recent years, the authors (B.J Gallagher and Warren H. Schmidt) decided to create a fable[1]  to illustrate their point and share an important business lesson.

Picture of the book A Peacock in the Land of Penguins

It was a very fast read: large print, short pages, and plenty of illustrations. In fact, the book was deceptively simple. It was an entertaining light read with a heavy, even vital, message that bears repeating.

A lack of diversity (or paying lip-service to diversity) is a recipe for stagnation and potential disaster.

But why is this true?

Here are just a few reasons:

  • An increasing body of evidence suggests that strong companies have diverse cultures and that diversity is positively correlated with survival in newer companies.
  • Organizations are serving and selling to a much more diverse customer base.
  • The labor force is becoming more diverse and companies that recruit from this wider pool of talent fare better in a competitive labor market.
  • Companies with greater diversity, especially in management, are more innovative and more likely to grow and enter new markets.
  • The combination of diversity and an inclusive culture increases both innovation and high performance. In fact, “The more inclusive talent management practices an agency has, the far likelier it is to achieve and sustain higher levels of performance.”[2]
  • A company full of conforming penguins is a pretty boring place.

Just yesterday, Joseph Fung, VP HCM Products here at NetSuite TribeHR, shared his perspective on this topic in an article in the Globe and Mail, which began with the unequivocal statement: "Fostering diversity in the work force is more than just a noble and altruistic goal, it’s a bottom-line imperative for any company planning for growth."  

Unfortunately, the reality perpetuated and experienced by many, be they "penguins" or "peacocks," is often much less enlightened.

A Lethal, Yet Common, Practice

By now you may be wondering what happens in the Land of Penguins that’s so unusual it warrants its own fable.

Absolutely nothing—well, nothing unusual anyway. You’ve probably seen or heard a version of the story yourself.

Management decides a new approach and some fresh ideas are needed to drive innovation, so they seek out and hire the most creative and unique individual they can find (the Peacock) to lead them in a new direction. Once he’s onboard and starts making changes, Management becomes more and more uncomfortable with his approach and style. He is just so divergent from the status quo.

“The Penguins said ‘We value diversity.’ But their actions said otherwise.”[3]

Subtly, at first, they begin to pressure the Peacock to “fit in.” Over time, their advice and suggestions become relentless; until he feels isolated and harassed.

“[He] had wanted to contribute and be successful. But what [he] got instead was quiet criticism, stifling conformity, and subtle rejection.”[4]

Eventually, the Peacock feels he must move on or he will slowly morph into a staid, black and white penguin too. He is not alone in feeling this way. All the unique, creative and different workers (who haven’t yet been turned into penguins), also leave the Land of Penguins. Fortunately, they find a more welcoming environment in the Land of Opportunity, where diversity is not only respected; it’s cultivated, because they have always understood:  

“Their shared knowledge made them wise. And their wisdom made them successful.”[5]

Meanwhile, back in the Land of Penguins, life goes back to being comfortable as everyone settles into the welcoming embrace of the status quo. Confident and complacent, they still wonder why innovation continues to elude them, but they don’t let it keep them up at night as they slowly fade to black.

“The most fatal illusion is the settled point of view. Since life is growth and motion, a fixed point of view kills anybody who has one.” ~ Brooks Atkinson

Complacency and stagnation will slowly strangle any organization. By shaking things up and forcing people to consider multiple perspectives, diversity serves as an effective antidote to both.

 

Subscribe to the NetSuite TribeHR Blog for a wealth of information on cultivating a diverse workforce.


[1] The difference between a parable and a fable lies in the type of characters used to portray the instructive story. A parable uses human characters while a fable uses animals, objects or forces of nature. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable

[3] B.J Gallagher and Warren H. Schmidt). A Peacock in the Land of Penguins.

[4] ibid

[5] ibid

4 Steps to Make Your HR Tactics Strategic

Posted on by Leave a Comment

In his article Strategic vs. Tactical Thinking: Empowering the HR Professional, Hebe Lugo differentiates between the two as follows: “doing things right” is tactical thinking, while “doing the right things” is strategic thinking. The challenge for HR professionals is that success relies on “doing the right things right!” Milan Mikuláštík - Chessball/Wikimedia Commons In other words, focusing purely on strategy without ensuring effective implementation is just as potentially damaging as ignoring strategy in favor of exemplary tactics.   Even more challenging is ensuring the use of effective strategy …

Human Rights and Human Wrongs

Posted on by Leave a Comment

From an HR perspective, any discussion of human rights typically revolves around discrimination and the prevention of discriminatory practices in hiring, managing or disciplining workers. Specifics about what constitutes discrimination, and who is protected against it, vary from one jurisdiction to another. In some ways, the U.S. sets a high standard for protecting human rights in the workplace, and yet it’s evident that: Photo by Jenny Downing, Flickr “The concept of workers’ rights as human rights has only recently begun to influence the formation and implementation of labor policy in the United States. In the …

Connecting the Dots Between HCM and Financial Performance

Posted on by Leave a Comment

Intuitively we know that exceptional talent and high employee engagement make a company more successful. We know that high performing teams are more productive and high trust work environments support all of the above. The challenge for human resources executives and managers, however, is to translate that intuitive understanding into concrete metrics that justify their commitment to the necessary HR policies and people investments. HR Policy and Investment Outcomes The Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCi) together with Larry Beeferman and Aaron Bernstein (Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School) may have just made this connection a little easier to …

What’s the Deal with Unretirement?

Posted on by Leave a Comment

The vanguard of the boomer bulge is reaching retirement age. At least, they’re reaching the age at which people have traditionally retired since the early 1900s: i.e 65. Of course, when 65 was originally set as the standard (and often mandatory) retirement age, most people died within a few years of retirement. These post-retirement sunset years were a well-deserved rest after a lifetime of work and represented a short final chapter for most people. Photo by Emilio Labrador, Senior Guard, Flickr Things have changed.  The trend toward earlier and earlier retirement that characterized the last century has …

Was That Insubordination or Just Attitude?

Posted on by Leave a Comment

Insubordination is variously defined as the “willful failure to obey a supervisor's lawful orders; refusal to obey some order which a superior officer is entitled to give and is entitled to have obeyed; intentional refusal to obey an employer's lawful and reasonable order; or more simply—disobedience to authority.” Mutiny on the Bounty by Pascal, Flickr But simply having a bad attitude at work doesn’t necessarily qualify as insubordination. Insolence, for example, is often inaccurately labeled insubordination. According to Sacha Morrisset of Stewart McKelvey: “Insolence refers to derisive, abusive or contemptuous language, …

The Talent Mindset of Leaders

Posted on by Leave a Comment

Unlocking the talent mindset of your leadership style, whether you are a front-line supervisor or the CEO, is the first essential key to sustaining strong talent practices. The talent mindset can be defined as having the understanding and ability to recruit, retain, and recognize talent in individuals that can be effectively deployed and continuously developed towards a specific purpose that aligns the individual’s strengths and motivations to the short and long-term goals of the organization.  McKinsey & Company in their book “The War for Talent” examined high performing organizations in comparison to cohorts. The single …

Six Tips to Help Employees Survive the Holidays

Posted on by Leave a Comment

The holiday season is meant to be a time of celebration. A time for families and friends to gather and observe their own unique traditions. In spite of this (and sometimes because of it!), for many, the holiday season is also a time of great stress. Increased personal and family demands associated with the season can leave your employees run ragged. Velas Candles by Guillermo Viciano, Flickr Aside from providing the ubiquitous holiday party, employers can help employees get through the holiday season unscathed and unruffled with a variety of simple, thoughtful acts. Here are a few examples to get …

Centralized Versus Decentralized HR

Posted on by Leave a Comment

For companies with multiple, geographically distributed locations, deciding whether or not to centralize HR is a decision with broad operational and strategic implications. A centralized approach enables an organization to streamline departmental functions across a complex system. It also ensures that HR policies are applied consistently and that information is managed in a unified way. Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain On the other hand, different locations are typically subject to distinct human resources regulatory and payroll tax environments, not to mention unique recruiting cultures; which lends weight to the argument for decentralization.   Multi-location companies that have grown through acquisition typically …

Paycards Versus Paychecks

Posted on by Leave a Comment

There’s been a lot of controversy lately over the use of payroll cards instead of paychecks for delivering employee compensation. The practice of using paycards was implemented by employers as a convenient way to pay employees who don’t maintain a traditional bank account. With many employers now processing payroll by direct deposit via electronic funds transfer (EFT), paycards offer a convenient alternative for paying employees who can’t receive their pay via EFT. More recently, some organizations have expanded their use of payroll cards. For example, MacDonald's has allowed individual franchise owners to decide …

Next Page

Experience TribeHR for Yourself
Contact us to schedule a demo of TribeHR.

Book A Demo
The Latest from Workplace Tribes
Happy Employees: Is Technology the Answer? September 03, 2015
HR Trends and The Future of Work September 01, 2015
ATS Recruiting Doesn’t Have to be Broken August 27, 2015
A Diverse Team Counters Complacency August 25, 2015
Effective Co-Workers not BFFs August 20, 2015
 
How to Hit a Moving Target August 18, 2015
4 Steps to Make Your HR Tactics Strategic August 13, 2015
Sitting is BAD for Your Health! August 11, 2015
Leading Workplace Tribes July 30, 2015
How to Shake Off a Slump July 28, 2015