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Effective Manager in a Diverse Workforce

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To be an effective manager means addressing the benefits and challenges of diversity in the workplace. In this essay, diversity is intergenerational and is, therefore, an important aspect of managing a workplace effectively, to boost overall productivity. This essay will aim to understand the differences in which the way several generations approach work as well as using key research to show how managers can take a contingent approach to leadership that is relevant for the diverse workplace. The essay will propose useful managerial strategies to counter the ethical, social, cultural and team issues that diversity brings in order to lead and manage effectively. Social issues can affect attitudes towards employees and lead to discrimination, therefore highlighting the importance of effective managerial behaviour.

In this essay, I will address the challenges diversity brings, and propose managerial solutions to maximise productivity of the workforce. For instance, a strategy to counter the ethical issue of discrimination in the workplace is by building an inclusive environment. Other effective strategies include; implementing knowledge of cultural intelligence to reduce communication barriers, foster autonomy, create a learning environment, encourage a growth mindset in employees. Such strategies can be implemented to reduce the difficulties of communication, particularly that arise from cultural diversity.

The key to managing an intergenerational workforce is understanding the differences between each generation and how this affects their attitudes towards workers. For instance, Workers at the IBM were living remotely and ‘telecommuting’. While there was a short term gain of almost $2 billion in selling its IBM office, the long term detriment on productivity was far greater. With such trends towards remote working today, there are various managerial considerations that we must take into account to be an effective manager today. Firstly, ethical issues like the welfare of employees is often overlooked by young results orientated managers as they are so goal oriented and can easily forget the fundamental human needs in an increasingly digital world. Isolation in remote working can affect mental health as well as Social issues that can arise such as change in demographic, values/needs and perspective.

A huge ethical problem in the workplace is discrimination because it can ultimately lead to an overall ineffective workplace and affect managerial behaviour. Ample resources have gone towards antiprejudice campaigns in various companies in effort to reduce discrimination. Interestingly, however, antiprejudice campaigns and strategies for controlling bias have failed since they were introduced to promote equal opportunity. While this study is focused on cultural diversity and racism, it cannot be entirely translated to intergenerational stereotypes, but nonetheless, there are key takeaways from the studies that contribute to our understanding of reducing stereotypes and to enhance cultural diversity. Research shows that the most effective way of tackling discrimination in the workforce is to create a diversity taskforce. A diversity taskforce consists of managers and representatives from underrepresented groups that meet regularly to collaborate to address problems within the organisation in relation to promoting equal opportunity and diversity. “Diversity task forces promote social accountability, engage managers in solving the problem and expose them to ppl from different groups”.

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Managers must foster an environment where generations can work collaboratively, yet the aging population means the workforce is being taken over by the younger population (Conley 2018). The human resource approach to management assumes that people are social and self-actualising. Based on this assumption, managers using good human relations will achieve productivity (Maslow & McGregor 1943), because relationships are the key to innovation and collaboration. However, in the transition to the digital world, the key skills of human-to-human interaction is being replaced by human-screen interaction due to the heightened emphasis on technology. While this change can boost work efficiency and ultimately increase profits, it means that previously relevant theories like classical managerial thinking are becoming more obsolete, leading to a decrease in human capital, where man no longer needs to think. Socially, there is an aging population with almost 40% of workers having a boss younger. Taking into consideration the social issue of an aging population, older workers are increasingly becoming less relevant and we are losing human-to-human interactions that these workers are more experienced in handling. Therefore, the Emotional Intelligence (EQ) of older workers are vital to the workplace, particularly in overcoming barriers of communication. The fundamental differences in the way we process information mean that we communicate differently. For instance, millennials respond to more informal communication. Great communicators understand that each gen responds differently to leadership and workplace technology, and it is the manager job to shift to meet the needs of each generation. By using a mutual learning opportunity, managers can create the conditions to foster an ‘intergenerational flow of wisdom’ (Conley 2018), where the EQ of older workers can be exchanged for the Digital Intelligence (DQ) of younger workers. By creating a learning collaborative relationship between older and younger workers, we can boost productivity and overall effectiveness of a company. The classical viewpoint is becoming more obsolete. This is problematic because the classical viewpoint is important as a rational approach. Through the application of scientific methods, time and motion studies and job specialisation it was possible to boost productivity.

According to the Fiedlers (1971) model, managers must adopt a contingent approach in order to manage a diverse workplace effectively. The contingency theory essentially states that the effectiveness of leadership depends on the situation. In the practical application of this theory, managers can tailor their relationship towards different generations based on the values of the age group in which they are a part. For instance, older people prefer to be respected, and therefore the manager must treat that person with respect and probably tailor their language to be more formal because it is familiar in their generation. By understanding such preferences and differences between generations, this can boost optimal performance as well as create an optimal environment for all generations.

In his review of leadership effectiveness, Strube’s (1981) metanalysis of studies concerning contingency theory implicates a biased selection of studies and proposes that the study would benefit from a higher representation of training groups such as non-interactive sports like track and field. Moreover, he notes that statistical significance does not necessarily imply practical importance. Despite these criticisms, the empirical evidence provides overall strong support for Fiedlers model.

In summary, diversity and the expansion of the digital world have brought about ethical, social, team, and cultural challenges which managers must address to boost productivity and to manage their team effectively. By understanding the values of each generation and perceptions towards other generations, managers can adopt a contingent approach to manage and lead effectively. Effective management strategies that encourage workers to foster autonomy, build an inclusive environment, and utilise a mutual learning opportunity are important to consider in the current diverse workforce.

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Effective Manager in a Diverse Workforce. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/effective-manager-in-a-diverse-workforce/
“Effective Manager in a Diverse Workforce.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/effective-manager-in-a-diverse-workforce/
Effective Manager in a Diverse Workforce. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/effective-manager-in-a-diverse-workforce/> [Accessed 31 Jan. 2023].
Effective Manager in a Diverse Workforce [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/effective-manager-in-a-diverse-workforce/
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