You tend to work with people from different walks of life. This is generally a good thing. Your company benefits from a diverse range of ideas, opinions and understanding. McKinsey’s research shows that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to do the same. But diversity can create a negative workplace culture if prejudices, stereotypes and genuine lack of connection get in the way. The numbers don’t lie. Diversity is essential to success in the modern workplace.
Reaping the benefits of diversity
That is not to say that it is all smooth sailing to that point. Diversity of age, race, religion, gender and temperament can create barriers and divides, whether real or perceived.
Mind the age gap: bridging the generational divide
Probably the most obvious barrier in the workforce is the generation gap. According to authors David Maxfieldand Joseph Grenny of Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, there are certain generations that simply don’t gel well in the workplace. Specifically Baby Boomers (49-67yrs old) and Millenials (14-33yrsold).
Their complaints against each other have elements of truth embedded in the stereotypes. Baby boomers perceive their younger counterparts as easily distracted, lacking commitment and focus and wanting too much too quickly. Millennials complain that baby boomers are sexist, lack creativity and are resistant to change.
Divides cost time and money
Stephanie Vozza from Fast Company states “all of this stereotyping is causing one in three of us to waste about 5 hours a week on intergenerational conflicts.” So how do you get these two adversaries to put their differences aside and create meaningful work?
Team building as the bridge between divides
David Simpson, co-founder of Team Building Asia draws heavily on the experience he gained working with divided communities of Protestant and Catholic youths in Northern Ireland. High-adrenaline activities like abseiling, rock-climbing and canoeing established trust quickly which opened up an honest dialogue between the two sides.
Team bonding on commonalities
Team building activities draw together groups based on commonalities. Where there are differences, they are celebrated and used to complete different aspects of a project. Once a divide has arisen between two employees or between groups of employees it’s time to take them out of the office, out of the ‘offending’ environment and work on your team process. As discussed in Why Team Building Activities Are An Investment for Your Company, processes such as communication, delegation, leadership and trust can all be strengthened with ‘play’.
Change your environment, change your mind
I recently read an article on Catalogue where a 20-something woman on the spare of the moment moved to a small town in Italy. A few months later she found out that a former friend, now adversary was also moving to that same small town. Ordinarily, she would have avoided her, widened the gap between them. But because they were in this strange setting, needing another person to trust, she decided to meet her at the airport, invite her to stay at her home and provide her with food and comfort for her first week in a new country. They have been close friends ever since.
Team building activities for bridging workplace divides
Team building is just like that. Take people out of their everyday roles and everyday commitments and their everyday prejudices can be shaken loose too. Below are a list of some of the best divide bridging activities at Team Building Asia. They include:
Pull the strings of teamwork in puppet masters
Work in teams to make a giant, inanimate object move, walk and dance! The Gangnam Style no less! This team building activity can be held indoors or outdoors and takes your team from the construction stage of your character to the performance stage. Puppet Masters requires tight communication, collaboration and focus. Plus seeing your puppet come to life is incredibly rewarding, a great team builder for a divided team.
Bridge the divide as a team
The name is the game. In Bridging the Divide You have only a few minutes to design and construct a bridge that your toy truck can safely speed down. This activity is great for bigger teams and can work with teams between 24 and 480 people. Everyone is working together for an attainable, satisfying goal. What more can bridge your divides?
Acknowledge and appreciate diversity in team dynamics
Team Dynamics is a training and development activity specifically designed to acknowledge and appreciate the diversity of your team. Through team profiling, experiential activities and back to work applications, the team dynamics program interactively teaches your team the 7 critical skills for effective teamwork.