Posts Tagged ‘workplace’


Frameworks for understanding & managing diversity part 5. Personality differences

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Personality typesThis is the fifth in a series of articles on frameworks for understanding and managing diversity. Part 1 looked at different developmental stages. Part 2 looked at the huge issue of cultural diversity. Part 3 looked at the sensitive question of religious differences, and part 4 looked at the role of different values. This article builds on the previous articles and looks at personality differences and some of the tools available for assessing personality.

The concept of different personality types has been studied for thousands of years . Many of the modern personality profiling systems have their roots in the Four Temperaments, as described by Hippocrates about 2400 years ago. These four temperaments: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic, remained commonly used categorisations of personalities right up to the present time. The Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung used them as a basis for his own theories of personality which were then, in turn, picked up by others. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the DISC assessment both have their roots in Jung’s work on the psychology of personality. Both MBTI and DISC are often used in the business sector to help managers better understand the teams they are managing. (more…)

Frameworks for understanding & managing diversity part 4. Values differences

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

scales of valuesThis is the fourth in a series of articles on frameworks for understanding and managing diversity. Part 1 looked at different developmental stages. Part 2 looked at the huge issue of cultural diversity. Part 3 looked at the sensitive question of religious differences. This article builds on the previous articles and looks at values differences.

Each person has a unique hierarchy of values which determine their actions and filter the information they take in. If a person eats lots of unhealthy fast food, it is because they place a higher value on eating than on their health. If a person neglects their spouse to work 80 hours a week in their job, it is because they place a higher value on their work (or what their work gives them) than on spending time with their spouse. Someone for whom sports is a high-ranking value will read the newspapers differently to another person who values being informed about politics or foreign affairs. They might watch the same TV news and remember quite different things from it. (more…)

Frameworks for understanding & managing diversity part 3. Religious differences

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Symbols of religionThis is the third in a series of articles on frameworks for understanding and managing diversity. Part 1 looked at different developmental stages. Part 2 looked at the huge issue of cultural diversity. This article aims to give an appreciation of the role that religion plays.

There is much overlap between religion and culture. In most traditional societies they are practically inseperable whereas in other societies, particularly European cultures, they are much more separate. It may be possible to be a non-religious Italian, but for most Africans before colonisation (and even in many cases today) it would be inconceivable to belong to a culture without religion.

So what is religion? Like culture, it is a set of values, codes of behaviour and relationships which are expressed through story, arts and rituals. It may also include metaphysical ideas about supernatural phenomena – God or spirits. Religion gives its adherents a sense of meaning and purpose for their lives, a set of ethics and practices to help navigate the trials and temptations of life, and a community to belong to for mutual support. (more…)

Frameworks for understanding & managing diversity part 2. Cultural differences.

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Cultural differencesWhat is culture? How does it shape us?

These are not easy questions to answer. We are as immersed in culture as a fish in water. We take it for granted, like the air we breathe, to the point where it is invisible to us.  Often the time when our culture becomes more visible is when we spend an extended time living in another culture, and then return home. The well-known phenomenon of “reverse culture shock” is the opening of our eyes to things in our own culture that we are seeing, as if for the first time.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines culture as:

a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time <popular culture> <southern culture> c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization <a corporate culture focused on the bottom line> d : the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic. (more…)

Some frameworks for understanding and managing diversity

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Diversity is a huge topic. Trying to get our heads around the idea that each of the 7 billion people is unique is just impossible. We may understand it at an abstract level, but not in a way that really helps us practically. To be useful we need to have some understanding of the different ways that people are different, in order to be effective at managing diversity. (more…)

Workplace conflict resolution – Understanding our communications filters

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Communications skills for workplace conflict resolutionMiscommunication is a common cause of workplace conflict. In these cases, successful conflict resolution requires improving communications skills and understanding our communications filters.

Every second our senses send millions and millions of bits of information to our brains for processing. Our eyes capture more information than the highest resolution digital camera. Our ears hear more detail than can be produced by the most expensive 24-bit recordings. Every hair on our arms feels the slightest breeze etc. (more…)

Conflict analysis – four causes of conflict, part 4. Past pain

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Past pain

This is the last of a four-part series on conflict analysis looking at the four causes of conflict in the workplace. Part 1, different information, looked at the conflict when two or more parties have different information. Part 2, different interests, looked at the conflicts arising when each party wants something different or wants a different outcome. Part 3, different personalities, looked at the clash of different personalities and personal styles.

The fourth root of conflict is past pain. In many ways this is the most difficult one to deal with.  Probably all of us can recall a situation where a conflict simply appeared, as if from nowhere. Afterwards we scratch our heads and ask ‘what was that all about?’ (more…)

Listening – the best tool for resolving conflict in the workplace

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
Listening

Listening ears (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/niclindh/1389750548/)

Have you ever had an experience of trying to communicate when someone is not listening to you. How did it make you feel? Hurt? Rejected? Frustrated? Angry?

What about when you have been listened to – the kind of listening when someone has given your full attention without interrupting, judging, telling you what you did wrong and what you should do?

Unfortunately, that kind of experience of listening is not too common for most of us. But when we get it, just the act of being listened to make us feel better – less angry, more in control and capable of sorting our own problems out. (more…)

Conflict analysis – four causes of conflict, part 3. Different personalities

Sunday, January 29th, 2012
conversation

Some people have different communication styles (Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/netzkobold/2574312734/)

This is the third of a four-part series on conflict analysis looking at the four causes of conflict in the workplace. Part 1, different information, looked at the conflict when two or more parties have different information. Part 2, different interests, looked at the conflicts arising when each party wants something different or wants a different outcome.

The third root of conflict is the clash of different personalities and personal styles. (more…)

Diversity in the workplace – why it matters.

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Diversity in the workplace

Diversity in the workplace matters. It matters a lot. A short while ago, the population of the world reached 7 billion. Yet the world isn’t getting any bigger…. If anything, it seems to be getting smaller. Oil, gas and coal resources are diminishing, along with many other natural resources. Even food is becoming an issue, because the amount of land available for agriculture is being reduced (due to desertification) by an area three times the size of Switzerland each year

In an overcrowded and nuclear armed world, we have to find a way to get along with each other. (more…)