Enabling Diversity of Experience in the Organization

This is an excerpt from our recent ebook collaboration with BambooHR entitled How to Turn Diversity Into a Major Asset for Your Organization. Download the full ebook here.

We’ve previously covered the idea that by leveraging diversity within the makeup of our organizations, we create systems that are more resilient — systems that are less prone to single points of failure and are better insulated against biases. Experience is one of these areas where we can proactively design for diversity.

There are a few ways to look at experience:

Diversity of Time

Let’s first talk about diversity of time — specifically, time in a particular career. When we’re building teams, it’s incredibly valuable to have a variety of experience, with some members who have lots of time behind them performing a specific task or working in a specific type of role. But obviously it can be pretty expensive to have an entire team of experts. Certainly there are instances where this is desirable or even necessary, but there’s a lot of wisdom in having newer folks involved, whether they’re new to the team, role or task. These people bring fresh perspectives and new ideas — things that can be lacking in teams where more experience leads to entrenched beliefs and behaviors.

Less familiar team members bring enthusiasm and dynamism. And more often than not, they’re going to push your more experienced team members to step up their game.

On the flip side, newer members have the opportunity to model and learn from the old pros on the team, which allows you to build them up — or sort of “mold” them — for that specific role in your organization. Some call this leadership development or succession planning, but whatever we call it, creating diversity of experience in the field among team members is a valuable lever you can and should pull.

Diversity of Tenure

Another type of diversity is tenure in a company. Similar to the situation with time in a role, new employees bring in outside perspectives and different approaches from their previous organizations and from prior work experience. They keep ideas fresh and they question the status quo, which is a good thing for the team and company. Oftentimes you hear newly onboarded employees say that they’re “focusing on getting up to speed” or “learning how you do things here.” Of course, that’s fine and we want to encourage them to do that, but we also should encourage them to point out areas where perhaps they’ve seen things done better.

Without “new blood,” you risk succumbing to organizational inertia — organizations tend to always do what they’ve always done, and can fail to make meaningful progress because they think how they’ve always thought, or they always approach problems in the same way. All too often, this lack of imagination stems from a lack of diversity — specifically diversity of tenure.

Now obviously you can go too far with this and end up assembling a whole team of folks who are so new they that lack organizational nuance and understanding of the undercurrents of operations at your company. But diversity of tenure within teams at every level is extraordinarily healthy, and it’s HR’s job to monitor, manage for and teach this principle.

Diversity of Industry

The third angle of diversity and experience is diversity of industry. Hiring from outside your industry can be a great way to revitalize your organization’s best practices by borrowing from other industries and learning from their approaches. You gain a whole new set of lenses through which a team can look at problems. Sometimes a stalled team simply needs that new person with a different background that’s going to provide different perspectives and insights and will move the group forward.

Remember: Diversity can be a tool. It’s a principle that allows your organization to ensure it has access to a breadth of thinking and insights, and to different perspectives, models and practices that you otherwise wouldn’t have.

Interested in a further deep-dive on diversity? There’s a lot more info in the ebook—grab a copy today!

Tell Us What You Think

Does your organization hire with diversity in mind? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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