Prioritize inclusion now!
The idea of inclusion may seem to be less of a priority in turbulent times, because you already have so many urgent issues to deal with... but that's exactly where the problem lies! Your brain works on auto pilot and prefers habitual ways of thinking. It also leans towards anything that reinforces your opinions and discards divergent viewpoints, none of which helps you find your way out of complex, novel situations!
Now is the time you really need to hear different – even provocative – opinions so you can unearth innovative solutions. But it’s also the time when individuals who are under-represented or on the fringes of the team are most likely to retreat into themselves. How can you make sure you include all your co-workers and give them the opportunity to make a contribution while they are working remotely?
- Send presentation materials in advance of the meeting so that people who are afraid to talk can calmly prepare what they want to say and their questions;
- Use the chat functions to make quickfire written exchanges easier and to overcome poor sound quality;
- Don’t be afraid to repeat the same messages using different channels (replay the recording of the meeting, send the notes, use the discussion forum, and so forth);
- Carry on with the habit of going around the table at the start (as long as the size of the team makes it possible) so you can hear each member and capture the mood inside the team;
- Recognize that your employees probably have even more domestic responsibilities than before, and be alert to situations where people might be vulnerable.
The Covid-19 crisis is highlighting disparities and inequalities to a greater degree than previously. You have a role to play in limiting the impact and ensuring that no employee feels excluded.
Find out more: “How to Be an Inclusive Leader Through a Crisis” Harvard Business Review, Ruchika Tulshyan, April 10, 2020.