As a calming counterbalance to a crazy world, we are predisposed to seek out those who are similar to us, personally or professionally.
On the face of it, there are numerous benefits of working with a homogeneous team: quick decision making, smooth discussions, and high levels of cooperation and collaboration.
“Homogenous teams are quick to take decisions as they’re more like minded. Therefore, they may be able to pull the organisation out of a crisis really fast. However, it works only in the short-term,” shares Kamlesh Dangi, group head-human resource, Incred.
Homogeneity in the team may make people feel more comfortable and at ease. However, this kind of comfort has its drawbacks too.
“We succeeded because we had diverse teams, brimming with fresh and new ideas every day. This helped us battle the situation and come out of it really well, if not very quickly.”
Tanvi Choksi, CHRO, JLL
“Developing competency is a necessity today. With the comfort that exists in homogeneous teams, however, people lose the motivation to think more creatively, as their assumptions go unchallenged,” points out Pradyumna Pandey, CHRO, Mother Dairy.
Having a similar point of view may ease the decision making, but it also limits the potential of adding a different perspective to the situation.
Homogenous teams tend to think in a structured way and the team actually agrees with each other on a regular basis. However, the most appropriate and progressive decisions are made when there is rich diversity of thoughts in the team.
“In the absence of a variety of thoughts, how can we expect ourselves to push the boundaries? We need different opinions and approaches to reach the optimal solutions,” Tanvi Choksi, CHRO, JLL. An assessment of the organisation’s diversity works great when one wishes to address or identify some specific area of risk. This helps in arriving at effective solutions for maximum impact.
“Developing competency is a necessity today. With the comfort that exists in homogeneous teams, however, people lose the motivation to think more creatively, as their assumptions go unchallenged.”
Pradyumna Pandey, CHRO, Mother Dairy
Heterogeneous teams not only have a wider range of perspectives, but also bring in diversity in terms of approaches to resolving a problem. As a result, a variety of views are thrown into the melting pot. This helps in exploring different angles that may not have been considered till then.
Choksi adds that COVID-19 was a problem that no one had ever faced before. However, “we succeeded because we had diverse teams, brimming with fresh and new ideas every day. This helped us battle the situation and come out of it really well, if not very quickly”.
In a diverse team, it is natural for the decision making to take a little longer, but the decision made is more likely to be a well-informed one, fortified with the right strategies.
Organisations need to invest more on bringing in diverse thinking for both mid-term and long-term goals.
“Homogenous teams are quick to take decisions as they’re more like minded. Therefore, they may be able to pull the organisation out of a crisis really fast. However, it works only in the short-term.”
Kamlesh Dangi, group head-human resource, Incred
Not everyone can be good at everything, but there are ways one can learn in a team. A team with diverse personalities facilitates peer-to-peer learning. “There should always be a balance of tasking and tending in a team,” Dangi advises. Each and every individual in the team should have an individual personality that helps them shine or stand out in the team.
Similarly, when organisations wish to expand their business goals and perspectives, they must offer the new hires a thriving environment. A competent environment helps them go above and beyond the repetitive ways of doing things.
Homogeneity also has its limitations when it comes to managing the diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) issues.
Choksi opines, “Leaders must look beyond the obvious ‘differences’ and consider factors such as nationality, age, gender, sexual orientation, faith or religion, physical ability and political leanings when it comes to including diversity in a team. One cannot expand one’s talent pool until one supports diversity in each of these areas”.
It is not sufficient to simply assemble a diverse workforce and then wait for the advantages to manifest. Diversity brings with it obstacles and challenges. However, if handled well, with shared objectives and open communication, the discomfort and tensions can be swept away. In fact, they can act as catalysts to forward-thinking, thrilling, and maybe even miraculous cooperation.