Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Diversity in a Small Group

Diversity is an integral factor, which promotes and helps stimulate an open society where ideas and reciprocal efforts can lead to a group’s success. Nothing can healthily succeed or prosper with only one element. As in cooking, construction, and the labor force, recipes, establishments, and the collective thought processes of humankind and evolutionary thought are best developed when there is a multinational and varying ethnic supplement of ideas and efforts. When people are not able to support and work in a diverse environment, workforce problems and stagnant thought will occur. This paper will aid in shedding some light on the murky and turbulent area of diversity, what it encompasses, and whom it affects.

Different personality traits exist within all individuals. At times, personality traits will be similar between members of a group. This could help the members of a group to relate to one another. However, differences in personalities could be good as well. People do not need to have the same personality traits in order to work together as a team. In fact, diversity can enhance the team. Each member of our group is very different, but there is one trait we definitely have in common: we all understand the importance of humor. In all of our presentations so far, we have used humor as a way to connect to our audience. We feel that we can still be professional without being boring, and humor is a way to make the presentations more interesting. It (what is “It”?) also helps us relate at our learning team meetings. Not all members of our group are humorous individuals; however, humor has become a big part of our group, and a part of our “team personality”.

The aspect of diversity within our learning team with regards to our geographical differences is something that we are going to explore throughout the course of Organizational Behavior. Up until this class, we have experienced togetherness in proximity and organizational behavior. As a learning team, our geographical similarities (“our geographical similarities” is not your learning team) brought us together from the first class where we all met. It has been the glue that keeps us together when other issues of diversity arise. We are all located in the north county within a twenty-mile radius of one another. The convenience of our proximity has allowed for relaxed and enjoyable meetings that foster open communication and enriched brainstorming. As a group, we can all share the burden of hosting our team, and find that we quickly agree on places to meet for productive interaction.

Our challenge for this course will be to accept the growing diversity within our team as we allow a new member to permeate our fortified alliance. We have accepted Prince as our newest member and the geographical difference that he brings to our circle. He more than doubles the radius of our geographical proximity. Therefore, he widens the spectrum for the diversity within our team in many aspects. This will create new challenges and cause us to grow in our problem-solving skills as a team. We invite the challenges, but acknowledge the difficulty that it will bring. As a group we will all have to expand our communication skills to include more computer time and emailing. We have discussed the limitations that phone meeting and emails present, so we must devise new ways to keep optimal communication, without allowing any one of us to feel left out of the circle.

Age has a great impact on the dynamics and viewpoints of our group. Our group being all around the same general age has a great advantage. We all are at about the same place in our lives, starting families, beginning years of marriage or deciding whether to get married. This allows us to work together with great ease and be able to be more comfortable sharing with each other because we have a better understanding as to where we all are personally. It also allows us to have a lot of fun while together and we have developed friendships outside of school. These friendships have strengthened our team. Being at the same place in our lives, we are all hoping to achieve some of the same goals and can support one another in achieving them. With the positives, there are also negatives. The down side to being all around the same age is that we cannot pull from pervious generations for input. The way this has affected us the most was in our last class. We were in a class with a group that contained members in there thirties through their fifties. All of us being in our twenties, we had a different view on what we wanted to achieve from the class. We came up with a business that would create fantasy parties for our customers. We got really involved in presenting our business in an exciting manner, because our business was all about fun. The presentation did not go over well with the older group, whose opinion of a business was strictly focused on professionalism and delivering presentations that could bore a crowd into a deep sleep. From that class, we gained what older generations view as professional and how groups should present their speeches in class. Being younger does not give us a lack of personal experiences but it does limit us to the knowledge of only the world experiences that took place in our lifetime.

Another area of impact where our diversity will impact our team’s effectiveness is the area of gender. Our team diversity has changed this class with the addition of our new team member Prince. In the past, our group consisted of one male and three females. The addition of a second male will impact how our team communicates. During previous oral presentations, Matt was often seen as a dominant figure as he towered over the other group members and his baritone voice carried better. With the addition of Prince, the overshadowing caused by a single male will be dispersed, hopefully allowing more attention to the rest of the team. While the addition of Prince does bring better gender diversity, it may also lead to conflict. It is possible that a top rooster syndrome may develop if either Matt or Prince vies for leadership of the group. The addition of Prince to the learning team has another beneficial effect. It brings better balance to the team. Before, Matt was outnumbered three to one, and as such conversation often drifted to off-topics such as childbirth, breast-feeding or problems with husbands. With Prince as a second male in the group, conversation may be more restrained to subject matter pertaining to our schoolwork. On the other hand, it is possible that a second male may allow for whole new areas of counter productive male-based communication between Matt and Prince. The gender diversity our group has can be a weakness, though through understanding we can make our diversity one of our greatest strengths.

I (Who is I?) can recall two examples where a lack of diversity and acceptance towards diversity will work adversely towards personal goals and the benefit of an entire company. A PhD in astrophysics was applying for the NASA space shuttle program to conduct orbital research. He was fully qualified but was continually passed over. He was a known supremacist with current and traceable affiliations. That, obviously, would not propagate the International Space Station ideas and principles. (This paragraph doesn’t flow with the rest of the paper.)

Recently, a former employee in some management position for a well-known cola corporation left and reported discrimination against people of color in that company. It is very unfortunate that diversity is most commonly associated with the racial aspect and not according to, say, diversity in one’s workout regime or photographic collection. In the world that we live in, both past and present, we cannot seem to move past the impediment ones racial, gender, and sexual affiliation causes in others. We must intrinsically accept diversity in all aspects of life, instead of just at the restaurants. You are not making any changes or building bridges just because you eat at an ethnic restaurant or listen to another group’s music.

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