How to Build an Effective and Diverse Team 

By Shelby Tieche On November 02, 2016

How to Build an Effective and Diverse Team 
When it comes to your employees, it is important that they are always performing to their fullest potential. By bringing diversity to the workplace, your team will be smarter, more collaborative, and will work together to solve more complex problems. At BizStream, having a diverse team is important because it gives our developers an environment where we can combine our ideas and work together to create and deliver premium products and websites to our clients. 
While I work as a developer on the team at BizStream, I am also a Chapter Leader for Girl Develop It in Grand Rapids. Girl Develop It is a non-profit that aims to provide affordable programs and classes to women interested in learning how to code in a judgement-free environment. Not only is diversity important in the workplace, but it is important in any form of a leadership team. As a Chapter Leader one of my responsibilities is to build a strong leadership team that will reflect the values and vision of Girl Develop through their role in the chapter. 

Chapter Leaders across the nation recently attended a summit in Austin, Texas that gave us the knowledge and resources to effectively build and maintain a diverse team. One big idea that we discussed was the negative effects of unconscious bias. Our implicit thinking can subconsciously skew our thought process when we are recruiting members or employees. When working toward building and maintaining a diverse team, it is important to remember three main ideas that will help rid of unconscious bias, and keep your thoughts objective during the recruiting and hiring process.


Write down skills you are looking for beforehand.  

Keeping things objective will help you stay away from the overall effects of confirmation bias. Writing down what you are looking for in a employee before reviewing any resumes will help with forming a more structured initial impression by comparing these requirements to their skill set. It will also help seek out employees who fit your values and vision as a company.

Add structure to your interview process. 

One way to add structure to your interview process is to have a set list of interview questions based on the position you are hiring for. Although some may believe that small talk and a “I’ll just wing it” attitude in an interview can keep things more comfortable and less formal, it can quickly lead to the “similar to me” bias--where we unconsciously prefer candidates with similar interests to our own. It’s important to remember that just because you have similar qualities, doesn’t mean that they will make a good employee. By writing down a structured list of questions beforehand you will eliminate these subconscious thoughts. To add even more consistency to the interview process, include a rubric that will help you regulate for each question what a great, good and bad answer looks like. 

Be aware of these unconscious biases when discussing potential candidates.

Be sure that after the interview, your discussion about the candidate stays objective and follows the values and skills that were set beforehand. Every interviewer involved should be present in this debriefing. When someone is giving feedback, be sure that they are supporting their opinion using solid evidence based on these skills you are looking for. 

By keeping these three ideas in mind, it will help you and your hiring team manage these interview biases and make more structured and logical decisions during the hiring process. Once you can reduce unconscious bias, you can then build a more inclusive and diverse team that will work together to their fullest potential. 
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About the author

When Shelby was thirteen she didn’t realize that the hours she spent staying up late building themes and layouts for MySpace and Xanga pages would later inspire her future career choice. As a recent grad from Michigan State and an even more recent Texas transplant, she now applies her knowledge to the front-end development team at BizStream. Shelby is excited to be back in the Grand Rapids area where she frequents music venues and local breweries.

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