Portrait of joyful business team

People are different, and that’s a good thing. Effective managers recognize and appreciate diversity among their employees and know how to use it to their advantage.

Tech entrepreneur Brian Colpak understands first-hand how a broad range of ideas, perspectives, and beliefs can make problem-solving, decision making, and information gathering much more effective.

Below, he explains how managers can leverage the different strengths, skill sets, and even weaknesses of individual employees to benefit the team as a whole.

Recognize and Appreciation People’s Strengths
Many employees know their own strengths. They’re able to communicate to you what they’re good at and what they need to improve.

Sometimes, though, you may notice a person’s strength that they don’t recognize themselves. A great way to utilize someone’s strength is to simply point out that you recognize and appreciate their ability.

Showing employees that you value them and don’t take them for granted goes a long way in making them feel appreciated. Once this recognition is established with an individual employee, you can help them recognize strengths in other team members, which in turn will improve the effectiveness of collaboration.

Don’t Forget Strength of Character
A lot of managers focus on an employee’s strengths as they relate to skills. An employee may be good at handling a specific task, for example, and not so good at another.

To truly utilize the strengths of your employees, though, don’t forget to recognize and encourage their strength of character. When you assign tasks and projects based on an employees’ character and skillset, you’ll be putting them in the best possible place for success.

In addition, you’ll be emphasizing how much you appreciate your employees, as you’ll be focusing on them as well-rounded people rather than just people hired to do a job.

Encourage an Open Dialogue
Recognizing diversity is just step one. Ensuring inclusivity within this diversity is step two.

As a manager, you can create an inclusive environment by encouraging open dialogue among employees — as well as between employee and manager. Don’t simply tell employees what they aren’t allowed to do, for instance. Discuss company policies, including the end goals, and allow employees to give their input.

You can jump-start positive change by including your diverse set of employees in the process. The only way this can happen, though, is if you create an environment in which they feel safe sharing ideas.

Get Social
Managers can tend to focus on their relationship with employees much more than the relationships employees have with their colleagues. As Brian Colpak points out, this is a huge mistake to make.

So much of a company’s production happens in the interpersonal level between co-workers before a manager even has a chance for input or direct action. That’s why if you want to harness the power of a diverse set of employees, you need to encourage understanding and respect among your employee base.

It can be challenging for people to get to know each other on a personal level at the workplace. Managers can enable this by creating more informal breakfast or lunch meetings, offering non-work activities in the workplace break room, and hosting get-together events after working hours.

When employees socialize with each other away from work tasks, they get to understand and respect each other’s strengths and what makes them tick. This understanding and respect ultimately results in better teamwork, which results in better production.

About Brian Colpak
Brian Colpak is a tech entrepreneur and the founder of Continental Global. After spending most of his career in managerial positions, he founded and led a company that was recognized as one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in Massachusetts before starting his current company. These days his main focus is on an upcoming project in Dubai.