Diversity can enhance the experience of team work. It can also provide some interesting challenges depending upon the types of diversity and the tasks being completed by the teams (Levi, 2014).
The challenge of diversity is to get the benefits of functional diversity and differences in perspectives, while managing the communication and conflict problems created by diverse people working together. Positive benefits accrue when a team learns how to overcome the challenges created by diversity (Mannix & Klimoski, 2005).
SPAMMAPS is a diverse team involving differences in gender, ethnicity, age and psychological characteristics. Levi (2014) makes the point that over time diverse individuals can develop a sense of identity as they begin to work more cohesively, forming an emotional bond. “Time working together reduces the negative social impacts of surface-level diversity, while increasing the value of deep-level diversity” (p. 251). Clearly allowing time to work through the diversity that exists in a group is important.
It may have taken SPAMMAPS the better part of a semester to formulate its unique identity but as we approach our finish presentation, there is a sense that we are all committed to finishing well, to contributing to the learning of all our classmates and to enjoying a true sense of satisfaction in knowing we have done good work. We may have started out being very different but we have managed to forge a common bond that has rendered us at this point, perhaps more alike than different.
The process of team formation is not usually an “instant” kind of thing. Diversity may even slow down the process. In a society that has grown not only love but expect, almost everything in an instant, teamwork may seem rather challenging. Especially for those teams comprised of diverse members. However, given time what once seemed to divide its members, may later connect them in deep and meaningful ways. For many, it is worth the wait.
Levi, D. (2014) Group Dynamics for Teams, Los Angeles, SAGE Publications.