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  • Writer's pictureGina Marchetti

Diversity And Tolerance - The Real Foundations Of Change

When referring to change management and all of the elements of a change management project, tools, models etc are very important, however, equally as important and what will engage a group toward a successful change situation is diversity and our levels of tolerance toward all types of diverse individuals. An organisation will make a decision around the need for change, the benefits for the change, the type of change (which may or may not involve LEAN principlesdepending on the organisation's background) and when the change must happen. Many factors will be taken into account, many meetings, many decisions around the course of action to take and at some point, a detailed assessment of the individuals who will be impacted by the change. One video that brings an incredibly powerful message around the level of diversity that exists within an organisation is called "InclusionstartswithI" ​and without any dialogue throughout the video, it successfully articulates the many diverse backgrounds and personal situations that individuals bring to the workplace.

The differences that individuals bring to the table are the very essence of how successful change and the critical ingredient that will unlock the potential for embracing the impact that change will deliver to the workforce can provide. No doubt that with any change management project irrespective of the change management tools/processes utilised, that within that all key stakeholders are reviewed in terms of their ability to handle the change. Unfortunately for many organisations, the review stops right there. The ability to seek to understand before being understood in some cases is non-existent or believed to be too difficult and time consuming to take the time to deploy. Imagine if the time was taken to not only understand how individuals would handle the change but actually engage with the person to better understand their personal situations and their cultural backgrounds to gauge how the change will not only impact them in the workplace but also the impact to their personal lives. 

So you decide that there is a change situation required for your organisation resulting in you developing the strategic intent that will ultimately deliver the change. A very good start provided that one of the first items on the checklist for the strategic intent other than which of the change models you decide on is to ensure you have a strong grasp of your people's backgrounds and what makes them tick professionally as well as personally. No doubt the change models do encapsulate this to some degree, however, it's up to you as to how far you go with delving deep into your people's very fabric that enables them to do what they do day in day out. Can you imagine the ease with which change would develop and be embraced if you had a culturally diverse group of people who are tolerant of each of their ethnic backgrounds and personal situations. Wouldn't you say that this is the very essence of teamwork? And don't people who work together as a team tend to experience greater success with anything that is thrown at them?​

Leadership obviously plays a key role here and to have an egotistical leader who isn't really authentic enough to care about his/her team really won't deliver a successful change outcome. Not caring about an individual and their personal beliefs or downplaying it's importance prohibits an opportunity to leverage individuals to guide the chnage plan to where you need it to go. 

​Great change leaders take the cultural diversity that exists within their team and leverage it authentically to circumnavigate roadblocks and support each other to realise the benefits of the change. Individuals who feel that their personal needs are not understood or addressed will close up and offer resistance without providing any real reason as to why. Authentic leadership coupled with a skill focussed on seeking to understand before being understood to do the right thing for the long term are vital to strong leadership required to facilitate change which will also include a very strong level of tolerance.

Diversity is not only about gender equality, it really drives home the point about individual's and what their personal lives are all about and how that translates for them in the workplace.

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