Diversity is the recognition and acknowledgement of multiple and overlapping identities. These identities include but are not limited to: race, ethnicity, culture, nationality, linguistic origin, citizenship, colour, ancestry, place of origin, creed (religion, faith, spirituality), family status, marital status, ability or disability, sex, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, education, style, socio-economic class, and political belief.
Diversity enriches team development. Learning to effectively collaborate with such a diverse population is a key element for team success.
Having awareness of different cultural perspectives will help the development of your team. With an awareness of cultural dimensions you are better able to navigate cultural differences on your team and plan and communicate accordingly.
Royal Roads University's classrooms are becoming culturally diverse, giving rise to new challenges and rewards for your learning in teams. Students from different cultures differ in their orientation to communication styles, time, power distance, collectivism and individualism, and task vs. relationship focus. These differences can result in conflict, and can also support success if facilitated well. In other words, when conflicts arise in teamwork, the emphasis is on creating shared understanding and team norms. Instead of a "your way or my way" mentality for adaption, RRU faculty and students must jointly invent "our way."
There are underlying cultural differences that contribute to the challenges in coming to a shared meaning on culturally diverse teams. Scholars highlight several diversity variables that impact teams, including direct vs. indirect communication, polychromic vs. monochronic, large vs. small power distance, individualistic vs. collectivist orientation, confrontation conflict style vs. harmony conflict style; task vs. relationship orientation. With an awareness of these cultural dimensions, students can better navigate cultural differences on teams.
One aspect of diversity among team members is the variety of personality traits and behaviours that each person possesses. Personality shapes perceptions and the lens through which a person views and interacts with the world in general and with the team in particular. This will directly impact her/his values and goals. In a team context, personality traits will determine a person's approach to collaboration, co-operation and communication. These in turn will drive behaviours that influence the relationships among team members. If you are interested in understanding your personality and character strengths, visit 'Personal Insights' to assess and learn more.
There are a number of approaches for thinking about learning preferences of students and a number of instruments to help identify the different ways people learn. Understanding learning preferences may help you recognize and appreciate individual differences and help you contribute to the success of your team.
Keirsey Temperament Sorter
The Keirsey Temperament Sorter is an online personality temperament questionnaire similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory. The Keirsey Temperament Sorter, like all personality inventories, provides only a preliminary and rough indicator of personality preferences. This online questionnaire can be used as a starting point for you to recognize and appreciate individual differences, particularly as they pertain to effective teamwork.
The VARK Preferences
Developed by Neil Fleming, New Zealand, 1997
The VARK (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinesthetic) is an informal learning preferences inventory designed to help students identify how they prefer to learn. The inventory contains 14 questions whose answers provide students with an indication of what their personal learning preference may tend to be. The author also provides study strategies for the various learning modalities.