September 19, 2016

Building Diverse Teams

by anand in TeamSpeak About EL

We work in a diverse environment. This means that we interact with people from different social
and cultural backgrounds on a daily basis. Thus diversity is a mean for organizational growth, an
influx of ideas and the amalgamation of best working practices. This plethora of cultures and
ideals leads to a more sustainable model for organizational growth.

However, there is a very real impact that this diversity poses which, if not handled carefully, would
lead to conflicts and a clash in operating norms. This danger is the lack of intra-team synergy
among the organization’s diverse teams. The traditional bonhomie that exists among teams from
the same geography and having similar backgrounds remains absent when the organization is
dealing with global teams without a similar, bonding cultural background.

Experiential learning works a treat when it comes to getting such global teams on the same page.
It provides people with similar experiences on which they can build upon. In doing so, the cultural
biases, the misunderstanding and the cultural conflicts among team members are eliminated and a
spirit of collaboration sets in among the culturally diverse teams.
Experiential workshops, hence, create a robust team culture to enhance productivity by leveraging
teams’ strengths and cohesion. The initial hesitation in opening up to a global set of colleagues,
with whom they have had little or no interaction is also eradicated in the early stages of experiential
workshops – usually in ice breaking simulations. This allows for more relaxed and motivated
participants, energized by coming face-to-face with a facet of their colleagues that they had not
seen before.

The initial ice breaker typically involves opening the mind of the participants. It is all about allowing
people to step out of their comfort zone. Depending upon the ice breaker, it also allows the participating teams to forge an identity for themselves and instil a comradery among the
participants who work together as a team. This also proves to be the foundation of further
interactions among the diverse teams, allowing them to fall back on this shared experience when
dealing with operating conflicts.

Further to that, experiential simulations allow the participants to experience the issues faced the
organizations in a non-threatening setting. These issues could range from strategy formulation and
implementation to being innovation and proactive when dealing with dynamic situations in a time
sensitive manner. Experiential workshops, through the use of simulations, allow the teams to face
issues head on and devise a solution. The learnings generated from solving these issues can then
be taken back and put in place in a work context.
Leveraging the potential of the teams is another key focus in these experiential workshops. The
simulations and activities allow the team members to trust their leaders, especially when the team
members do not see the bigger picture. It also allows them to achieve stated goals within the
constraints present – both in terms of resources and time. This also means that the members of
the teams develop trust in each other’s capabilities, leading to a more collaborative working
environment.

Activities in these workshops are designed to motivate people to pool their talents and perform at
their best individually and as team players. Team members discover that diversity is their greatest
asset and trust, cooperation and effective communication are the key to a team’s success. These
simulations not only encourage individual development, they bring all members together for a
common cause.
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These experiential workshops have been conducted with a multitude of organizations with
tremendous results. The following comments highlight the impact that experiential workshops have
had with the participants:
“Very nicely conducted, in a friendly environment”
“Brought the whole team together”
“Good way to translate conceptual stuff in an easy manner”
“The relation to the real world of business was tremendous”
“Very meaningful and thought provoking activities”
“Superb connect to the workplace and to strategy”
“Through the active sessions, we demonstrated the challenges and solutions to ourselves. True
empirical evidence”
“Learnings came out of activities and really hit us into our faces. Absolutely practical. I do, I
understand.”

By Vipul Mathur, Head Client Partnerships, Xperentia Consulting

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