Although organizational harmony is often a desirable goal, it should not be valued at the cost of individual creativity. Often, company culture emphasizes a streamlined approach to product development, policies and procedures, and other aspects of running a business. Grouping like-minded people together on committees and projects can limit the boundaries of expression that might otherwise produce an exciting range of ideas and possibilities. While cohesion is vital to a point, here are some tips for avoiding groupthink and single-mindedness in your organization.
Randomly populate company groups
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Instead of organizing employees who are similar to handle certain tasks, select a variety of mindsets and personalities to work closely together. This will not only challenge and stretch their corporate approach to an assigned task, but also level the playing field so that all employees feel valued and free to share their perspectives. Mixing people of different ages, races, ethnicities, genders, education, and skills bring together a unique group of individuals who think differently about things and can offer fresh outlooks to new or pervasive challenges. Although disagreements may ensue over some points, these are generally considered to be healthy in contributing to forming new opinions as long as certain individuals do not become upset.
Include a diverse spectrum
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Instead of focusing on the same everyday issues and deferring to the same leaders routinely, organize a diverse group of individuals as a task force or committee. Individually they bring unique outlooks to the problem at hand. Together, they build synergy that can be incredibly dynamic in addressing issues that the organization must confront. Listening to new voices share unfamiliar opinions, and differing recommendations can be enlightening and exhilarating for company progress. Not all different points of view need to be accepted. However, simply hearing about new ways of doing things can stimulate employee creativity as they add their own tweaks and adjustments to new approaches to accomplishing the organization’s purpose.
Utilize less traditional strategies and resources
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In addition to including a diverse pool of company employees that do not share the same experience or views, add professional resources like software, training manuals, and policies or procedures from other industries, regions, or countries. By examining how other organizations operate using resources that are not typical to the industry but will work within usable boundaries, the company can expand its collective insight and draw on a much wider range of sources that could enhance or expand the company’s products and services. On the other hand, relying on groupthink can limit unique problem-solving ideas to a single invariable approach that can miss the mark as often as hit it. Managerial oversight can help to prevent logjams and ensure a smooth process despite seeming disparities. We are all human at our core, and this bond can bring people together to address common causes at work, and elsewhere.
Encourage and reward diversity
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Instead of acknowledging employees who do things the same way over and over again even if successful, look for those who take a chance on trying something new. Remind employees that it is all right to fail occasionally, as long as something is learned. Schedule diversity training workshops to help employees recognize and escape from discriminatory or stereotypical thinking about specific groups of people. Employees who complete the workshops as indicated by a series of related activities or a final quiz can be rewarded by flex time, a bonus, or another company way of showing appreciation.
Seek out unique voices
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Organizations who have not cultivated a broad diversity pool of employees should look for resources to help them recruit and hire prospects from varying backgrounds. Job ads can be published in journals that cater to specific professional populations. Although fair hiring practices should apply across the board, minorities should be invited to apply and not discriminated against in ways that other applicants are not. In addition to diverse employees, speakers or presenters from uncommon backgrounds can be invited to special company events to share unusual perspectives. Training materials can be drawn from other organizations who are already successfully utilizing diversity strategies.
Learning to appreciate another voice, a different perspective, or an unfamiliar background can be mind opening for employees, who then infuse their enthusiasm and acquired insight into their jobs. Mixing up the employee pool, creatively organizing committees and projects, and making use of diverse resources can help to avoid groupthink in any organization. Expand employees’ minds and increase their creativity while reducing groupthink by infusing more diverse views into the office.