How to Work With and Lead People Not Like You - Kelly McDonald - ebook

How to Work With and Lead People Not Like You ebook

Kelly McDonald

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If you're in a diverse team, you know employee differences can cause miscommunication, lower trust, and hurt productivity. . . It doesn't have to be this way! The people you work with may be from a different generation, different culture, different race, different gender, or just a different philosophy toward work and life in general, but you need to work together toward a common goal. How to Work With and Lead People Not Like You explains how to dial down the differences, smooth out the friction, and play upon each other's strengths to become more effective, more productive, and less stressed. The keys are to find the common ground and identify hidden conflicts that are hurting productivity. Many people shudder at the prospect of working with diverse groups of people, but they can't voice their fear or anxiety. At work, it's not OK or politically correct to say, 'I'm uncomfortable with this person.' In fact, if you do say something along those lines, your job may be at risk. Your company may terminate you for not being on the 'diversity bandwagon.' So you keep quiet and you keep your thoughts to yourself. But deep down, you are uncomfortable. If you feel like this, it doesn't mean you're racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic, or any other negative label. It means you're struggling. You're struggling to understand people, cultures, or values that are unfamiliar to you. You're struggling to do your job with teammates and coworkers who may have very different viewpoints or different approaches to communication than you have. You're struggling to overcome differences and pull together to achieve high performance at work. Whether you're leading a diverse team, working in a challenging cross-cultural environment, or simply working with people who are 'not like you,' you need to be able to get along with everyone as a team, to get the work done. This book explains the skills you need to communicate, motivate, and inspire people to collaborate--even if they have very different values, lifestyles, or priorities. * Learn key steps that bring cohesion to diversity * How to have a constructive conversation about working alongside people who are different * The four magic words that make this easier and smooth over friction * What not to say--and why * Learn to set aside differences and get things done * Learn how to handle a racist, sexist, homophobic or offensive remark in a professional way * Retain your sanity when colleagues drive you crazy The changing demographics of today's workforce bring conflicting viewpoints, perspectives, approaches, skills, habits, and personalities together in one place; whether that leads to synergy or catastrophe is up to you. How to Work With and Lead People Not Like You helps you turn a hurdle into an advantage so you or your team can do more, achieve more, and enjoy the ride.

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Table of Contents

Cover

Title Page

Acknowledgments

PART I: Working with People Not Like You: How to Build Relationships and Foster Connections across Different Cultures and Values

CHAPTER 1: “I Used to Just Be Able to Do My Job—Now I Have to Be Politically Correct”

DIVERSITY FATIGUE—WHY PEOPLE ROLL THEIR EYES WHEN THEY HEAR THE WORD “DIVERSITY”

THE NEW DEMOGRAPHICS

WORKING WITH PEOPLE NOT LIKE YOU IS THE NEW NORMAL

WE'RE NOT GOING BACK TO THE WAY THINGS USED TO BE

RESENTMENT IS A CHOICE

CHAPTER 2: How to Break the Ice, Show Respect, and Build Trust with People Not Like You

STEP 1: BREAK THE ICE BY STARTING A CONVERSATION

STEP 2: FOCUS ON THE PERSON, NOT THEIR DIFFERENCES

STEP 3: FIND COMMON GROUND—IT'S THERE SOMEWHERE

CHAPTER 3: How Do We Talk about Real Differences in People and Groups That Create Conflict or Hurt Productivity—Without Stereotyping or Offending?

HOW TO HAVE A CONSTRUCTIVE CONVERSATION ABOUT CONFLICT WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT FROM YOU

FOUR MAGIC WORDS THAT MAKE IT EASIER TO START A CONVERSATION ABOUT CONFLICT

CHAPTER 4: Working with People Who Don't Speak English

CHAPTER 5: Dealing with People, Groups, or Values You Don't Like: How to Get Along and Work Together Anyway

PART II: Leading People Not Like You—How to Get a Diverse Group of People to Trust Each Other and Work Together

CHAPTER 6: How to Break the Ice and Build Trust in Diverse Work Groups

START HERE

HOW TO BREAK THE ICE WITH DIVERSE TEAM MEMBERS

LEADING A VIRTUAL TEAM

BUILDING TRUST

CHAPTER 7: The Leader's Role: Educating and Setting the Example

MAKING “WE VALUE DIVERSITY” REAL FOR YOUR PEOPLE

DOS AND DON'TS FOR LEADING PEOPLE NOT LIKE YOU

CHAPTER 8: Dealing with Conflict and Prejudice and Having Hard Conversations about Differences

DON'T SHY AWAY FROM CONSTRUCTIVE CONFLICT

DEALING WITH NAYSAYERS AND DERAILERS

CHAPTER 9: Don't Just Hire People Who Are Like You—But

Avoid Tokenism

IT'S NOT AS SIMPLE AS “THE BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB”

BRING IT BACK TO BUSINESS

DON'T HIRE THE WRONG PERSON—JUST TO SATISFY A DESIRE FOR DIVERSITY

TOP DOWN BEATS BOTTOM UP

CHAPTER 10: Navigating the Waters of Promotions and Professional Development

CHAPTER 11: Making Accommodations for Employees—Do You Have To?

TELECOMMUTING, PARENTHOOD, AND PRAYERS, OH MY!

BRING IT BACK TO BUSINESS

Conclusion

Index

End User License Agreement

Guide

Cover

Table of Contents

Begin Reading

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HOW TO WORK WITH AND LEAD PEOPLE NOT LIKE YOU

PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS FOR TODAY'S DIVERSE WORKPLACE

 

 

KELLY McDONALD

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2017 by Kelly McDonald. All rights reserved.

Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.

Published simultaneously in Canada.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600, or on the web at www.copyright.com. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, (201) 748-6011, fax (201) 748-6008, or online at www.wiley.com/go/permissions.

Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom.

For general information about our other products and services, please contact our Customer Care Department within the United States at (800) 762-2974, outside the United States at (317) 572-3993 or fax (317) 572-4002.

Wiley publishes in a variety of print and electronic formats and by print-on-demand. Some material included with standard print versions of this book may not be included in e-books or in print-on-demand. If this book refers to media such as a CD or DVD that is not included in the version you purchased, you may download this material at http://booksupport.wiley.com. For more information about Wiley products, visit www.wiley.com.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: McDonald, Kelly, 1961- author.

Title: How to work with and lead people not like you : practical solutions for today’s diverse workplace / by Kelly McDonald.

Description: Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc., [2017] | Includes index. |

Identifiers: LCCN 2017015263 (print) | LCCN 2017030860 (ebook) | ISBN 9781119369974 (pdf) | ISBN 9781119369967 (epub) | ISBN 9781119369950 (cloth)

Subjects: LCSH: Diversity in the workplace–Management. | Management–Cross–cultural studies. | Intercultural communication.

Classification: LCC HF5549.5.M5 (ebook) | LCC HF5549.5.M5 M425 2017 (print) | DDC 658.3008–dc23

LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017015263

Cover Design: Wiley

To Sally Shoquist Dunham

My friend then.

My friend now.

And to your dad, for teaching us both the beauty of the written word.

Acknowledgments

This is my third book and it was, by far, the most challenging to write. There are people in my life who understood this and helped me, in ways big and small. Some believed in this book when it was nothing more than a title. Some of the people who helped me with this book are people I have not even met, though I hope to someday. They contributed their stories, insights and experiences because they believe that when we work together with people who are not like us, we become better. I believe this with all my heart, and I am inspired that so many others feel the same.

To say “thank you” feels inadequate. But I shall say it anyway, with the hope that the people mentioned here know that I could not have written this book without them. From specific help with the content, to reading drafts of chapters and providing feedback, to support and love and patience during the process of writing, this book was shaped by dozens of people, and I will never be able to repay all that I was given.

To my editor, Richard Narramore, for understanding “why this book” and “why this book now.” For the steady guidance you provide that results in clarity and renewed enthusiasm. For understanding just how hard this one was for me and why. Your words to me on a phone call in early January gave me purpose when I was convinced I was in over my head. Thank you for turning doubt and insecurity into something positive and productive. I am grateful that out of all the editors in the world, you're mine.

To the entire team at John Wiley & Sons, who work to bring us good business books that foster growth, productivity, and better business practices. Thank you for supporting my view of diversity and believing in its power as a business tool.

To Sally, for without your help this book would not exist. I know it's a cliché, but it's true. The hundreds of hours you spent researching, reading, brainstorming, and assisting made this book possible. You are truly one of the smartest, coolest, best people on the planet. March on.

To John, for hanging in there and doing this with me—again. Thanks for all your help, support, and thoughtful feedback on the chapters as they unfolded.

To Adam and Diana Fitzgerald, for always coming through for me, no matter how late the hour or how inconvenient. Adam, you've supported me forever, it seems—and now with Diana, I feel I have Batman and Robin on my team.

To Kenja Purkey, for providing articles, insights, and advice at the beginning, the middle, and the end. For always being there. For being game for anything, anytime. For knowing me and still liking me.

To Pam Atherton, for keeping me current on every relevant news article and issue and sending a snarky or hilarious meme or text every 48 hours or so. Please don't ever stop doing that.

To Jennifer Martin, who, despite months of not talking, always understands and is there for me when I finally come to the surface. And to Joe Martin and Jake Martin, my “other family members.” I love you.

To Somir Paul, for showing me what true leadership looks like. Thank you for your help and insights and for making time for me, even when you're on vacation and we are 16‐hour time zones apart.

To Gillian Power, for awareness, for strength, and the willingness to share.

To Tim Bennett, my friend and hero, for teaching and preaching diversity long before anyone else. And for supporting me and my books, every step of the way. I adore you, Tim!

To Karen Nelson, for being my “mom” growing up and my friend now. For showing me what unconditional love really is. For being one of the all‐time best human beings I have ever known.

To the entire team at SpeakersOffice, for believing in me and my message and helping to get that message out to audiences everywhere. Michele, Sassy Cassie, Kim, Jenny: I know I'm a handful, but I'm your handful. Thanks for putting up with me. And to Holli, for finding me in the first place.

To Jayne Millard, for sharing your experience and insights with me. I hope we get to meet face‐to‐face someday.

To Rob Neilson, for sharing your story and the “eight steps.” Thank you for making the book better.

To Randi. You're the only sister I'll ever have and the only one I want or need. Thank you for letting me back into your life.

To Becky Carron, for seeing the value of this journey all those years ago—and for seeing the value in me as a person.

To Cliff Bohaker, for your ability to mock me and survive. And to still make the most mundane errand an adventure!

To my inner circle, my true family: Cliff Bohaker, Lynne Swihart, Robert Swafford, Todd Young, Ronny Steelman, Carson Garza, Adam Bowden, Andrea Cleverley Howard, Randy McCauley, Gregorio Kishketon, Dennis and Nikki DuPont—thank you for your support and enthusiasm every time I do this. And for the fun and friendship all these years. I cannot believe we have not landed in jail. Yet.

To Kiki, for the hundreds of hours of pet therapy. And to Danit Talmi, for sharing her with me.

To all those who contributed and helped, whether it was with specific insights and anecdotes, pep talks, chapter reading, connections to others who helped or simply being wonderful in my world: Z, Amber, Jessica Hogan, Ben Hogan, Todd Dunham, Mary, Jamie, Tamara, Sara, Mollie, Sylvia, and Katie.

To my clients, who become my friends. You have cheered me on, encouraged me and you're the reason I do what I do. Special shout outs to Ron Arrigo, Bill Rutherford, Terry Young, Joe Jasmon, Kristin Dupont, Jeff Hurt, and Sarah Michel.

And to every reader of this book, thank you for being the kind of person who strives to build bridges and teams. I may never know you, but I know your heart. Thank you.

PART IWorking with People Not Like You: How to Build Relationships and Foster Connections across Different Cultures and Values

CHAPTER 1“I Used to Just Be Able to Do My Job—Now I Have to Be Politically Correct”

You've probably heard the line that goes something like, “Work is hard—if it were easy, it wouldn't be called “work!” How true. I don't know anyone who doesn't work hard, who doesn't feel pressure at work, who feels 100 percent secure in their job at all times. Work can be a stressful place these days. Between layoffs, downsizing, “right‐sizing,” corporate acquisitions and consolidations, wage or salary restrictions, budget tightening and trying to achieve company goals, everyone is doing their best just to get through each week. As an employee or leader, you work hard, do your job and you learn to adapt to change.

But these days, it's not just management or policy or budget changes you have to adapt to. You look around your workplace and your coworkers look increasingly different. Different from you. More diverse. You're expected to work with people who aren't like you. Or you're expected to lead people who are not like you. (If you're responsible for leading a diverse group of people at work, this book will help you with concrete, tested steps and solutions that will provide direction for effectively building trust, resolving conflict and creating a productive team. Part II of this book is specifically for people like you and you can skip straight to Part II to learn how to lead diverse teams.)

Maybe your coworkers are of a different race or ethnicity. Perhaps they hold different religious views. Maybe they're from a generation you don't relate to. They may not speak English well. Perhaps they're from another country or culture that is unfamiliar to you. Or they're the opposite gender and you've never understood the way they think.

Yet you're expected to be a team player. In fact, you're expected to embrace this diverse team. You're told that your company is progressive and that diversity is good. And, heaven forbid, if you express anything other than sheer joy at the prospect of working with diverse groups of people, then you're out of line. Something must be wrong with you: you're racist. Or sexist. Or homophobic. Or intolerant. Or inflexible. Or “behind the times.” Or you just “don't get it.”

At work, it's not okay or politically correct to say, “I'm uncomfortable with this person.” In fact, if you do say something along those lines, your job may be at risk. Your company may terminate you for not being on the “diversity bandwagon.” So you keep quiet and you keep your thoughts to yourself. But deep down, you are uncomfortable.

If you feel like this, it doesn't mean you're racist or sexist or ageist or homophobic or any other negative label. It means you're struggling.

You're struggling to understand people or cultures or values that are unfamiliar to you. You're struggling to do your job with teammates and coworkers who may have very different viewpoints or a different approach to work than you have. You're struggling to overcome differences and pull together with different people to achieve high performance at work. You're also likely suffering from what I call “diversity fatigue.”

DIVERSITY FATIGUE—WHY PEOPLE ROLL THEIR EYES WHEN THEY HEAR THE WORD “DIVERSITY”

I do a lot of professional speaking on this topic and I have learned to avoid the word “diversity” because of people's reaction to it. I used to do keynotes on a topic called “Diversity in America” and slowly, over a few years, I saw interest in the topic decline pretty substantially. I suspected the reason, but talking with a client one day confirmed it. She said, “It's a great topic, Kelly, and an important one. But I fear our conference attendees won't come to the session if they see that as the title. People are burned out on diversity. They think it's going to be some HR lecture and they've heard it all before. Can you call it something different?”

I changed the title to “The New Demographics” and BAM! I started getting booked for that topic like crazy. It was the exact same content, but with the word “diversity” in the title, it just wasn't generating much interest. My client was right: people who work have been coached and conditioned to accept and embrace diversity on the outside, but inside, they're over it. They've heard the lectures; they've been through the training; and they're simply tired of the subject, even though it's an important one. They have “diversity fatigue.” Because they've heard so much about diversity for so long, they tune out. They're either bored with the topic, or they think it doesn't apply to them. They've been hammered at work (and in society) that we are all one big, happy world and that people are all the same. But we're not.

Today's workforce is made up of people who come from different backgrounds, different places, different skills, are of different generations, have different religions, values, and cultural norms—even our approach to work can be different from one another. All of this can seem foreign to you because it is foreign to you. The only lens you have to view the world through is your lens. You only have your frame of reference—you have no idea what it's like to be somebody else or think like someone else. So when you're confronted with someone whose actions, culture, style of dress, approach, nationality, language, religion, sexual or gender identity, color of skin, gender, or age is “foreign” to you, it's no surprise that you may feel uncomfortable.

Yet, if you express that, especially at work, people think there's something wrong with you—the “Diversity Police” make it seem like you're the one with a problem. You must be “old school” or racist or sexist or “something‐ist” if you express any kind of discomfort or lack of understanding when faced with coworkers who are different from you. You may even get in trouble and be reprimanded, disciplined or put on probation if you speak up about any discomfort you feel. So you keep quiet. But the discomfort doesn't go away.

Even those who aren't the least bit uncomfortable with people from different walks of life have diversity fatigue. One of my dearest friends, Robert Swafford, is incredibly outspoken about everything and he never minces words. He embraces all kinds of people, has a wide group of diverse friends, is inclusive and progressive and everything you'd hope a great employee in today's workforce would be. But he exclaimed to me one day as we were discussing this topic, “For crying out loud, can we please stop talking about diversity? Let's just go to work, respect each other, and figure it out as we go along! We get it!”

Even if you're one of the ones who “gets it,” the word “diversity” still carries a lot of baggage. It's not that people don't respect different cultures, races, ethnicities, and norms, it's just that there has been so much focus on diversity that people are simply tired of the subject, even though it's an important one.

That's one of two reasons I don't like the word “diversity.” The second reason is because, in my experience, people tend to think too narrowly about the word. They default to thinking about diversity in terms of racial and ethnic differences.

My definition of diversity is “any way that you can be different from me.” For example, if you have kids and I don't, we're going to be very different: we will have different priorities and face different pressures. The decisions that a parent makes will likely vary significantly from those that a nonparent makes. When you become a parent, your entire focus shifts, because it has to. Parents think about and evaluate everything differently than people who aren't parents. But that difference has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, or even gender. It simply has to do with parenthood versus nonparenthood.

THE NEW DEMOGRAPHICS

I prefer to talk about diversity using the phrase “people not like you.” Every day, you are surrounded by people who are not like you. Sometimes the differences are obvious, such as a different skin color, ethnicity, gender, age, or disability. But there are numerous other ways that people are not like you, and some of those ways may not be apparent until you get to know someone.

Here is a list of some of the ways that people can be “not like you”—some are self‐explanatory, others require a bit of description. This is by no means a complete list of ways we can be diverse, but I'll bet there are a few here you haven't considered before:

Different racial and ethnic groups

Black, White, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, etc.)

Different religious groups and views

Men and women

Different ages and generations

LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning—“questioning” includes those who may be unsure of their sexual orientation or preference, such as teens who are still developing and exploring, or those for whom sexuality and/or gender identity is more fluid)

Introverts and extroverts

Marital status (single, married, divorced, partnered, widowed)

Parents and nonparents

And within “parents,” there is no doubt that single parents have different lives and demands on them than two‐parent households

Different levels of income and affluence

Differing political views

Different education levels

Different cultural backgrounds—this would include different heritage, traditions, and customs, but can also include things that shape culture significantly. Examples of these include:

Military versus civilian backgrounds/experience

Rural versus metropolitan backgrounds

North/South or East Coast/West Coast backgrounds

White‐collar versus blue‐collar professions

Differing physical, emotional and mental abilities

Full‐time versus part‐time workers and “gig” workers

Office workers versus telecommuters

In some companies and organizations, the flexibility that some employees have in working from home is fostering resentment among those who can't. We'll tackle this issue, and others like it, in this book.

These are just a few of the ways we can be different from one another at work. I'm certain you could add to this list—it's endless. Recently, I was talking with a guy at a business conference about this subject, and he said, “Here's one for your list: gun owners versus non‐gun owners!” He was right! Shooting isn't just a sport or activity for many people; it's a culture. Gun owners collect and trade guns, practice shooting, and can't envision not having guns. Those who don't have guns can't envision having them—they see no reason for them. Another guy overheard us talking and chimed in with, “Here's another one: gamers versus nongamers!” It's so true! People who are really into video games don't see it as just a pastime or a hobby; they see it as a complete culture. It has its own language, rules, hierarchy, and status. These are two great examples of how people can be not like each other, but in both cases, the difference has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, age, or gender. As you think about your coworkers, what other ways can you identify that they can be “not like you”?

And here's something else to consider: if they are “not like you,” then they probably see you the same way—not like them.

WORKING WITH PEOPLE NOT LIKE YOU IS THE NEW NORMAL