The importance of cognitive diversity within companies

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The importance of cognitive diversity within companies

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Thinking differently is a quality. It broadens perceptions, helps to develop empathy and exercises the argumentative capacity for others to share and / or disagree with their opinion.

Understanding the benefits of this practice is all about cognitive diversity, a term that has acquired more strength among specialists in the labor market. Gradually, it has also advanced in the corporate corridors due to the understanding of its importance.

Do you want to see if cognitive diversity has value for your business too, and especially for the enhancement of your human capital? So, continue reading this post!

What is cognitive diversity?

Briefly: Cognitive diversity is the understanding that people with different styles, personalities and backgrounds can add new solutions and perspectives for new and old problems.

This means, therefore, that it is important to connect the profile of your organizational culture with comprehensive professional profiles, whose intellectual, cultural and living flexibility raises new debates, associations and conclusions.

Why enter it in the company?

Although the fit cultural of an important company – for example: professionals trained in a specific institution or with the same set of skills and competences as the recently dismissed employee -, exclusive attention to this can minimize cognitive diversity.

After all, this does not open the door to many fresh, distinct and innovative thoughts that can go in parallel (or completely against) the suggestions that have been suggested and addressed.

This conflict is healthy for the development and maturation of any company. Shocks of ideas and experiences can create something new, different, and that can pave the way for new strategies.

But that’s not just why cognitive diversity should have more space in your company. When we talk about innovation, creativity and transformations, we need counterpoints. In the aforementioned example (of leaders who seek only a profile of candidates), this contrast is unlikely to exist.

Standardization occurs through a bias of comfort, convenience and stagnation. The diversity of thought accommodates solutions hitherto unthinkable against threats and to insert opportunities into the day to day work.

Good exercise to understand the value of cognitive diversity can be done in your future selection processes. Instead of analyzing only the curriculum and relationship aspects in a perfect fit with the organizational culture of the company, create strategies to evaluate also:

  • analytical thinking;
  • synthesis capacity;
  • strategic thought;
  • distinct solutions adopted for the same amount of information / data shared with the other candidates.

All of this can bring up valuable insights for choosing the ideal professional in your recruitment and selection strategies.

Are there other benefits to adopting cognitive diversity?

In addition to the intrinsic importance of applying this type of diversity in the workplace, other links link benefits to the company’s growth. See some of them, below!

Employee engagement

A recent study carried out by Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) showed that, at least for new generations, diversity is a tool for greater engagement and collaboration among coworkers.

This is because, regardless of age, beliefs, gender and any other characteristic of the individual, diversity presents itself as something in which all ideas and opinions are welcome, heard and considered.

Not to mention that, as a result, engagement is greater. Professionals feel valued – and not only by their managers, but by the team – and this increases their confidence and satisfaction in producing more and better continuously.

Solving old and new problems

Remember that definition of insanity, which usually circulates on social media? It says like this:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”

You can get a little of this idea to question the obstacles that many companies face, insisting on the same strategies and thoughts to solve the small and big challenges of everyday life.

It turns out that cognitive diversity has the power to illuminate these objects from a new perspective. A simple idea contrary to the majority, but that can make everyone wonder “Why don’t we think about it before?”.

And the answer is basically the openness to new profiles, new ideas and cultural and life baggage that differ from this plastered professional profile that some organizations insist on posting in their job ads and hiring metrics.

It is undeniable that good planning, in this sense, can become more volume and diversity of ideas. Which, as a consequence, can evolve into new solutions to old problems – and also in insights for problems that are still unknown, even.

Stimulating critical thinking

Individually, we can highlight cognitive diversity as a continuous exercise to strengthen critical thinking.

Because, let’s face it, it is much more comfortable (and we are in the habit of doing this) to approach those who think in a similar way to ourselves. And the result of this, although it has its degree of value, can cast ideas only in that bubble.

In contrast, opposing, conflicting thoughts that have no apparent connection to each other exercise critical thinking. A disagreement causes each person to argue and defend their point of view, fueling richer debates and which meanders along paths that would barely or even be explored in an environment where there was agreement on everything.

It is worth noting, however, that leadership – and also the HR sector – are fundamental in this process. It is important to know what the limits of a healthy discussion are and to know how to mediate it so that opinions are presented, heard and debated, and that they add to the central idea.

Read too: examples of diversity in companies!

What are the challenges in implementing cognitive diversity?

How about we go deeper into the argument that ended the previous paragraph? After all, this can be an element that frightens managers and HR specialists when considering cognitive diversity: divergences.

Because counterpoints can directly or indirectly stimulate tension. And this is natural, because it causes turbulence to that order that we mentioned as tranquil and current, which is the agreement of ideas.

No wonder, many professionals keep their opinions to themselves, for fear of confrontation. There are those who consider this decision an exercise in diplomacy, which is not entirely true.

What should be considered is the value of different ideas. Not all will be used, of course, but they can expand the range of options and solutions for a new problem or strategy.

However, as has already been said, leadership (more present in daily life than HR) has this role of mediating debates, always respecting respect, harmony and tolerance.

How can leaders become more involved?

Leaders are not mere task organizers, delegating them to employees in order to wait for payment at the end of the month. They are aggregating, analytical people with a high potential to develop the best (and the points of attention) of each employee.

See too: the characteristics of a current leader.

In this context, cognitive diversity can be worked from a leadership profile that is able to open and control an environment of openness and enriching dialogues. Not to mention the flexibility to collapse the vertical and inflexible hierarchy, leaving a little more openness for subordinates to suggest, criticize and have more responsibilities.

In this way, leadership grows as a guide for guidance, development and control to maintain discussions in a degree of mutual respect and psychological security for all.

In addition, leaders – here with the support of HR – have in hand the opportunity to build cognitive diversity in a gradual way and to advance as their team understand the values ​​of that exercise. Here are some tips for implementing it in the company’s day-to-day:

  • identify profiles that can add, through inclusion, to work and keep this openness evident in the organization’s selection processes;
  • also strengthen this work in internal leadership development strategies;
  • establish new rules of communication at meetings and encourage arguments against the suggested ideas;
  • offer a rotation in the conduct of the meetings;
  • create different formats for the meetings themselves, for suggestions of ideas and also in decision making;
  • strengthen the relationship between employees. The harmony and security of working together can be the fundamental elements for self-confidence to awaken and debates to be more frequent.

Finally, remember to build a work environment in which transparency, honesty and impartiality are visible qualities. This all contributes to a routine in which everyone will feel more comfortable to be themselves.

Recalling that, in an environment where there is no disagreement, we refer more and more to the famous sentence by Nelson Rodrigues: “All unanimity is stupid”. Therefore, accommodate cognitive diversity and begin to feel the effects of change that inclusion can bring to all layers of everyday life in your company.

And it is possible to go beyond the tips seen in this article, did you know? For this, here is our invitation to like our page on Facebook and to follow us also on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn! There, you can stay on top of all our tips and news first hand. See you there!

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