Managers with insight know that groundbreaking innovation comes from teams that have a diverse set of skills and perspectives. You can’t just have a Steve Jobs or Larry Page alone, you’re going to need Sergey Brin and Steve Wozniak. But many leaders miss a key factor that underlines what it is that makes diverse teams truly effective; the need to feel that they belong.

Research from Harvard Business Review has shown that belonging to a group of co-workers is a better motivator for some employees than even money. However, you can imagine what’s likely to happen when you bring together your brilliant and diverse set of people with their very different approaches and perspectives…

To create the kind of workplace where these varied characters will be willing to step out of their comfort zones and work together towards innovation, follow these tips:

  • Appreciate everyone’s different role in the problem-solving process. One of the tools we use to build better internal communications for our clients is from Basadur Applied Creativity. Use their theory to help colleagues understand the value of each others’ approach and the power of their own. Work to build an environment where the team member who’s always finding new problems is equally as valued as the one who loves putting immaculate plans together.
  • Make sure everyone’s voice is heard. Often meetings can look like one way conversations where the more reserved and quieter types take a back seat and withhold their insights. With one person doing 80% of the talking, you’re not going to be making everyone feel valued. Take time to ensure everyone’s opinion is heard around the table, ask for their opinion and follow with questions so they genuinely feel listened to.
  • Be aware of shutting down the ideas of your own and others. Ever thought, ‘no that’s a silly idea, it’ll never work’? If you’re looking for truly innovative ideas, the door needs to be open for any and every idea at first. Work to create an atmosphere where no idea is stupid and everything can build and lead to useful change.

Taking the time to ensure these ideas and behaviours are second nature in your company will ensure that diverse and bright teams will create the innovative outcomes your company needs to succeed.