The Challenge of Managing Diverse Teams


Figure 1: Focus on Diversity (Source: Geisser 2014).

It is said that diverse teams that consists of people with different knowledge, experiences and even different business practices are important as they will produce many good results and bring many benefits to the organisation. This statement is only true as long as the leader is able to lead the team well (Ibarra and Hansen 2011: 71).

Video 1: Diverse Teams at Work: Capitalizing on the Power of Diversity (Source: Trainer’s Toolchest LLC 2010).

Diversity is not only based on the difference in gender, ethic, race or even cultural background. Diverse teams can also include people from difference in experiences, education or industry (The Financial Times 2016).


Figure 2: Diversity (Source: Jones 2014).

The cultural dimension by Greet Hofstede is also useful in managing diversity as it helps to determine the effect of culture in influencing the values and performance of the organisation.

Humanism & Cultural Diversity

Figure 3: Hofstede’s Dimensions of National Culture (Source: Flood 2014).

It is stated that employees in a diverse team will allow the team to be more creative and innovative in generating different points of view and also diverse ideas and solutions as compare to just having employees from the same background (Van Knippenberg, De Dreu, and Homan 2004). By being in contact within a diverse team for a long period of time will increase the familiarity and understanding with each other and at the same time be able to develop the trust among team members (Stahl et al. 2010: 444).

It is believed that diverse teams will bring different perspectives, enable personal growth from sharing different experiences, and also will be able reduced the cost of employment (Monroe Consulting Group 2016). A diverse team will also be better at decision making tasks as they possess a better problem solving and analysing skill (Wegee et al. 2008). Therefore, a diverse workplace will lower employee turnover will ultimately contributed to the rapid growth of the company (Monroe Consulting Group 2016).


Figure 4: Team Building (Source: Leadership Innovation 2015).

A diverse team may perform better but at the same time potential conflict will happen in a diverse team like discrimination and racism (Yeager and Nafukho 2012:390). People sometimes experience culture shock due to the difference in cultures, behaviours, or even the environments. This causes problems like communication difficulties, misinterpretations, decreased unity and also increased conflict which will then result in poor performance (Staples and Zhao 2006: 391).

Figure 5: Team Conflict (Source: Shoop 2014).

Unfairness and discrimination in term of age will happen in an organisation like how an individual views an employee as being too young or too old to perform the tasks (Kunze, Boehm, and Bruch 2011). In the end, they will generate feelings of insecurity which will lead to poor relationship with others and may possess a stronger desire to return to one’s home country (Shaffer et al 2006: 114).

Video 2: Challenges of Diversity Management in the MNE (Source: Hendrik 2014).

The Tuckman’s model comprises of different stages used by leaders in developing and managing a group within a given time (Tuckman and Jensen 2010: 43). In the first stage “Forming”, leader must first better understand the team by discussing the responsibilities, roles and the objectives of the team. Disagreement and conflict within the team often happen during the “Storming” stage. During this stage, the leader must better understand the team and form a relation with them. The next stage “Norming” stage happens after overcoming the conflict and having a proper agreement, the team will then start to cooperate and perform together. The “Performing” stage is the execution of the tasks as a team after the team has achieved a consistent state. The final stage “Adjourning” that happen after the completion of the task, is where the team make assessment in the contribution of each member and also makes plan for improvement (Businessballs 2016).

Figure 6: Bruce Tuckman’s Model of Group Development (Source: Wheaton College 2016).

Having global leadership skill can also help in managing a diverse team like leading people effectively and also help better understand the transferring management principles from one’s own culture to another (Dubrin 2011: 45). However, these principles are sometimes not easily applicable in another country mainly due to the culture differences.

One good example of a company embracing the concept of diversity will be the International Business Machine (IBM). This company deals in various technological products that include both software and hardware (Rouse 2006). IBM was a trusted company mainly because of their culture in promoting and also their acceptance diversity in workplace (IBM 2010). The company also adopt the non-discrimination policy and protect their employee’s rights like having a training centre for disabilities and even providing domestic partner benefits to the different groups that includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and even transgender (IBM 2010).

In a means to eliminate discrimination in the company, instead of ignoring the facts, the company had created different task forces in focus and understand the each different groups like Asians, gay, lesbian, men or women (Thomas 2004). They also had an employees from different culture joined the company years before the company became what it is today. IBM’s core value does not only include diversity, but it also includes equality in opportunity and also acceptance of difference culture (IBM 2010). They also won awards like “Number 1 Company for Global Diversity” in 2015. They ranked in the Top 50 of “Multicultural Business Opportunities” list in 2012 (IBM 2016).

Video 3: Diversity @ IBM-Doing it differently (Source: IBM Australia and New Zealand 2011).

Having a diverse team allows people from different cultural backgrounds to provide different ideas and perspectives. Therefore, diversity in a long period will be more beneficial to a business as long as it is being managed properly.

(800 words)


Businessballs (2016) Tuckman Forming Storming Norming Performing Model [online] available from < > [13 February 2016]

Dubrin A. J. (2011) Essentials of Management. 9th edn. Australia: South-Western College Pub

Flood, M. (2014) Humanism and Culture [online] available from < > [13 February 2016]

Geisser, M. (2014) New Year’s Resolutions: A New Focus on Diversity [online] available from < > [13 February 2016]

Hendrik, J. M. (2014) Challenges of Diversity Management in the MNE [online] available from < > [12 February 2016]

IBM (2010) Corporate Responsibility Report: Employee Diversity [online] available from < > [13 February 2016]

IBM (2016) Diversity and Inclusion [online] available from < > [13 February 2016]

IBM Australia and New Zealand (2011) Diversity @ IBM – Doing it differently [online] available from < > [14 February 2016]

Ibarra, H. and Hansen, M. (2011) ‘Are You a Collaborative Leader?’. Harvard Business Review [online] 89(7/8), 68-74. available from < > [10 February 2016]

Jones, K. (2014) ‘Diversity and Inclusion at Windsor Resources: A Case Study for Success’ [online] available from < > [13 February 2016]

Kunze, F., Boehm, S. A., and Bruch, H. (2011) ‘Age Diversity, Age Discrimination Climate and Performance Consequences – A Cross Organizational Study’. Journal of Organizational Behaviour [online] 32(2), 264-290. available from < > [13 February 2016]

Leadership Innovation (2015) Team Building [online] available from < > [13 February 2016]

Monroe Consulting Group (2016) Malaysian Company’s Encouraged to Increase Diversity in Office Environments for Better Business Results [online] available from < > [10 February 2016]

Rouse, M. (2006) IBM (International Business Machines) [online] available from < > [13 February 2016]

Shaffer, M. A., Harrison, D. A., Gregersen, H., Black, J. S., and Ferzandi, L. A. (2006) ‘You Can Take It with You: Individual Differences and Expatriate Effectiveness’. Journal of Applied Psychology [online] 91(1), 109-125. available from < > [10 February 2016]

Shoop, E. (2014) Managing Conflict: Six Things NOT to Do [online] available from < > [13 February 2016]

Stahl, G. K, Mäkelä, K., Zander, L., and Maznevski, M. L. (2010) ‘A Look at the Bright Side of Multicultural Team Diversity’. Scandinavian Journal of Management [online] 26(4), 439-447. available from < > [10 February 2016]

Staples, D. and Zhao, L. (2006) ‘The Effects of Cultural Diversity in Virtual Teams Versus Face-to-Face Teams’. Group Decision and Negotiation [online] 15(4), 389-406. available from < > [10 February 2016]

The Financial Times (2016) Definition of Diverse Teams [online] available from < > [14 February 2016]

Thomas, D. A. (2004) ‘Diversity as Strategy’. Harvard Business Review [online] 82(9), 98-108. available from < > [13 February 2016]

Tuckman, B. W. and Jensen, M. A. C. (2010) ‘Stages of Small-Group Development Revisited’. Group Facilitation: A Research & Applications Journal [online] 10(1), 43-48. available from < > [12 February 2016]

Trainer’s Toolchest LLC (2010) Diverse Teams at Work: Capitalizing on the Power of Diversity [online] available from < > [13 February 2016]

Van Knippenberg, D., De Dreu, C. K. W., and Homan, A. C. (2004), ‘Work Group Diversity and Group Performance: An Integrative Model and Research Agenda’. Journal of Applied Psychology [online] 89(6), 1008-1022. available from < > [9 February 2016]

Wegge, J., Roth, C., Kanfer, R., Neubach, B., and Schmidt, K. (2008) ‘Age and Gender Diversity as Determinants of Performance and Health in a Public Organization: The Role of Task Complexity and Group Size’. Journal of Applied Psychology [online] 93(6), 1301-1313. available from < > [9 February 2016]

Wheaton College (2016) Leadership & Teambuilding [online] available from < > [9 February 2016]

Yeager, K. L., and Nafukho, F. M. (2012) ‘Developing Diverse Teams to Improve Performance in the Organizational Setting’. European Journal of Training and Development [online] 36(4), 388-408. available from < > [10 February 2016]


12 thoughts on “The Challenge of Managing Diverse Teams

    1. Hi David,

      I believe the Tuckman’s Model is best used as a guidance in managing a diverse team.

      This model is useful especially the “Storming” stage as it allows the team to voice their own opinion and express their own ideas. However, there are times using the model will not be useful. Some members may not agree on the task. They may not listen to the leader as well. In the end, the team will not be focusing on the goal and the job will not be completed.

      A leader’s job is to maintain a high performance team in order to get things done. However, there is no quick and easy way to go about it. Therefore, the leader must be able to adapt to the different challenges presented at each stage and also able to apply the right leadership style in managing the team.


  1. Hi Law,
    Thanks for educating us on what it means to manage a diverse team.

    Looking from another perspective, what happens if the manager himself/herself acts unfairly or discriminates his/her diverse team members? What would you recommend to reduce/eliminate this behavior?


    1. Hi Wong,

      Thanks for commenting.

      One major effect of discrimination will be that employees will be unsatisfied with their work and at the same time will be unmotivated to complete the task. This will generate a poor work environment and may affect the performance of the organisation.

      The managers must not only responsible in leading and managing the team, they must also be an example to others on how one must act to each other in the same team.

      There are a few ways to reduce discrimination in workplace.
      1. Require all employees to review the discrimination policies and procedures manual.
      2. Require all employees to attend a mandatory quarterly training on discrimination in the workplace.
      3. Encourage cooperation and equality in the workplace by creating diverse work groups.
      4. Set up a way that employees can report discrimination to the management.
      5. Immediate disciplinary action to be taken on discrimination complaints.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. HI Law!
    Nice, colorful blog that you have there. Definitely align with the topic of diverse teams. A nice read on Tuckman’s model on how it is comprised of different stages used by leaders in developing and managing a group within a given time. Something useful for me in the future.

    Seah Xin Wei


    1. Hi Xin Wei.

      Thanks for commenting.

      It is true that Tuckman’s model has be beneficial even in organisation nowadays as a guideline in managing a diversity workforce.


  3. Hi, Law

    Your explanation of Bruce Tuckman’s Model of Group Development is easy to understand because you used good picture, which was Figure 6. In addition, IBM example is also good.

    That’s great job



    1. Hi Gaishnav,

      Base on my experience, working with other people in a diverse team was beneficial in term performance. There were times I do not have the skills or knowledge for a certain task. Here, I work together with someone that does in order to complete it.

      When you have a team with different areas of expertise who are willing to collaborate and challenge each other to reach a common goal, you get results that are well thought out, effective and creative.


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