Potatoes and People
Here’s a cool exercise you can use with your team or your company. I learned this with leader training we use for Boy Scouts.
- You are going to buy a bag of potatoes (or gather rocks) and call your team or company together.
- Hand each of them a potato (make a very solemn occasion of it. adds to the fun!)
- Send everyone off by themselves for a couple of minutes and tell them to examine their potato and notice all of its unique characteristics.
- When they gather back, you are going to ask each of them to introduce their potato to rest of the group. They can have a lot of fun with this – make up names and give it personality – and that’s all part of it.
- After everyone has introduced their potato to the group, collect all the potatoes back in a bag and them randomly redistribute them. Then challenge everyone to find their unique potato.
It will be a lot of fun, but they will also learn something about Diversity and Inclusion.
Using Both Diversity and Inclusion
We hear a lot about Diversity and Inclusion these days but they don’t naturally go together in most organizations.
Diversity is all about recognizing and celebrating the differences in each of us. No two potatoes are exactly alike; they have different shapes, different sizes, different textures and skin colors, and even the placement of the eyes.
Inclusion means I can two or more potatoes together and even though each is a different size and shape and color; when I put them together they make a tasty meal. With inclusion in the workplace, we take the differences in each of us; the different skills sets and strengths, different backgrounds and attitudes, and we learn how we combine them together to be most productive for the team or the organization.
Many organizations practice diversity (mostly as a public relations mandate) but don’t practice inclusion. That’s a waste. It’s a waste of human resources, financial resources, and time.
Why spend the money hiring and training someone you aren’t going to make an integral part of the whole?
When we practice both diversity AND inclusion, then we have produced a team that is productive, effective, and profitable.
So here’s four ways to create your inclusive and productive team:
- CONNECT WITH YOUR TEAM MEMBERS – As a leader, it’s very important that you connect with each person and get to know them well enough to understand their goals and their dreams. What they like to do and what they don’t like to do. Where they see themselves fitting in to the whole. A lot of times they may very well be right.
- IDENTIFY STRENGTHS – Start with an assessment. There are lots of great ones out there, free and fee-based. If you’re not sure, give me a call and I’ll help. The important thing is you want to identify those strengths because that’s what we are looking to use. You don’t want to worry about weaknesses except in terms of how we can compliment that.
- BUILD A STRENGTHS-BASED TEAM – Build your team based on the strengths of each person complimenting the weaknesses of other team members.
- FOSTER CONTINUOUS GROWTH – You want to build a mindset in your team for continuous growth and improvement of their strengths. Continuous personal growth allows them to take the strengths that they have and making them stronger. They will be more effective for the organization, they are going to be happier as a result, your teams are going to be more cohesive and more productive and you are going to see the results in your bottom-line.