The best workplaces are melting pots that attract diverse talents. Hence, the varying spectrum of values, perspectives, and beliefs. While this can prove enriching in more ways than one, such diversity can also result in misunderstandings, possibly even conflicts.
Running a company entails significant responsibilities, the most of which is leading your people forward. Thus, as a manager or owner, you will be expected to employ an inclusive form of leadership.
However, there’s more to inclusivity than just hiring a distributed team with different beliefs or cultural leanings. Rather, it also involves listening to different opinions and making room for people even when they don’t necessarily share your values.
How? Here are four simple tips for handling remote employees even and especially when they don’t think the same way as you.
Listen to Understand
Most people listen to reply. But if you truly want to be an effective leader, you must listen in order to understand.
Open conversations can lead to better understanding and collaboration. Whenever your team members come to you for advice or suggestions, try to step back and weigh your words carefully before giving feedback.
Some employees might share ideas that might contradict your personal preferences or values. However, instead of immediately shooting down the idea, try to understand where they’re coming from first. Take that conversation as an opportunity to learn. If you can, turn it into a dialogue instead of a debate.
Done right, this approach cultivates a very inclusive work environment.
Understanding vs Agreeing
Listening to and understanding your employees’ insights don’t necessarily mean that you agree with them. This is what most managers get wrong.
Instead, learn how to entertain or acknowledge other ideas without letting go of your beliefs and values. For example, let’s say your employees want to work individually on different projects but you’d prefer that they work in teams. Instead of disregarding their suggestions, consider the reasons behind their preferences and assess how you can arrive at a happy medium.
Showing your employees that you value their input goes a long way. It makes them more confident and open-minded. They’ll also be more likely to listen to their colleagues when there are differences of opinion.
Embrace Curiosity and Patience
As much as possible, give everyone on your team the chance to speak up. It’s normal for heated discussions to arise, especially when personal values and preferences clash. Although it can be stressful, it can be an opportunity to practice curiosity and patience.
Curiosity is key to understanding, acknowledging, and embracing differences. A genuine curiosity about your employees can help you identify what makes them tick, thus giving you insight into how to handle or motivate them better.
Meanwhile, exercise patience when handling emotional outbursts during meetings. Keep your emotions in check while someone is presenting even if you don’t necessarily agree with what s/he is saying. Resist the urge to jump in or cut them off until you hear them out.
Doing so gives everyone the opportunity to be heard, creating healthier communication channels.
Employ Active Listening
Of course, this is more difficult to do when you don’t share the same opinions and values with the employees involved. However, active listening in a conversation implies listening and demonstrating respect even when it’s difficult.
Most employees would appreciate having a boss that listens to understand. Aside from the confidence boost, it also encourages reciprocity and engagement.
Your employees will often mirror your behaviour. So, if you show respect and understanding, your remote workers will likely do the same not just to their team members, but also to your clients.
Managing diverse remote teams can be both a challenging and rewarding experience.Yet treating your employees with respect even amidst significant differences is always worth it.
Fortunately, the remote work industry is constantly evolving. Remote Staff has been providing AU SMEs and entrepreneurs with skilled remote workers from the Philippines for the last 14 years and counting. Aside from hiring and onboarding, we also provide insights and tips to ensure smooth working relationships.