Get Productivity with 3 Types of Diversity

Companies with at least one woman on the board would have outperformed stocks with no women on the board by 26 percent over the course of the last 6 years.

Earning an online MBA degree provides business teams with critical thinking skills and knowledge to add value and diversity to their organizations—and strengthen their careers. A recent study examines three types of diversity that help yield high performing work environments.

Team dynamics are important. Get the factors right and you can see higher productivity and performance. It should hardly be news to anyone in an online MBA program. But what are the factors?

According to recent research originally reported by the blog 99U and then condensed by Fast Company, there are at least three types of diversity that high performing teams need.

Swiss banking firm CreditSuisse undertook a study of corporate boards, a vital team in any company.

The key finding is that, in a like-for-like comparison, companies with at least one woman on the board would have outperformed stocks with no women on the board by 26 percent over the course of the last 6 years.

There were many reasons that adding women to boards helped, including a wider talent pool, better mix of leadership styles, a better reflection of the consumer decision maker, and improved corporate governance.

Psychological orientation
All too often there’s an assumption that extroverts, who may seem more confident or forceful in their manner, are valuable while introverts are less so. As UCLA researchers found, extroverts often are favored with high status in groups while introverts get low status. But that is only a surface assumption.

In a field and an experimental study, we find that [extroversion] is associated with status losses and disappointing expectations for contributions to group tasks and [introversion] is associated with status gains due to surpassing expectations for group-task contributions. Whereas personality may inform status expectations through perceptions of competence when groups first form, as group members work together interdependently over time, actual contributions to the group’s task are an important basis for reallocating status.

Look to pack your team with extroverts and chances are you will pass on people that you would have found surprisingly effective and useful. Indirectly, the research also suggests the folly of assuming capabilities by certain personality traits.

Thinking styles
“Big picture” thinking is great if you want to brainstorm or work on general approaches to solving problems. However, the minute you need to actually do something, analytic thinking becomes important as it is better at dealing with processes. Researchers at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon found that analytic thinkers excelled at identifying sub-tasks and the necessary resources for execution.

Diversity as a precursor to higher performance makes sense. The reason companies have a human resources department is that employees — people — are in a way tools for the business. The brainpower, emotional charge, work ethics, and physical activities that actually make things happen.

If you’re going to think of people as tools, you might as well continue the analogy. Depending on only one type of tool would be absurd in any undertaking. Can you imagine a carpenter who only carried a saw and hammer but no measuring devices, levels, or screwdrivers? An auto mechanic wouldn’t get far without the right assortment of wrenches, pliers, files, chisels, pry bars, and specialized items.

A team needs the proper assortment of human tools. Limit the group to men or visionaries or extroverts and you’ve restricted the toolset available to the manager and company. With the rich extent of human experience and capabilities, acting as though any one type of person has a lock on productivity and even creativity — which, according to researchers, depends on the meeting of different ideas — is self-defeating.