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Workplace Diversity. This means recognising, valuing and taking account of people's different backgrounds, knowledge, skills, needs and experiences. It is also about encouraging and using those differences to create a cohesive community and effective workforce. An organisation’s success and competitiveness depends upon its ability to embrace diversity and realise the benefits. As a starting point, diversity allows individual talents and experiences to come to the fore and a diverse workforce that feels comfortable communicating varying points of view provides a larger pool of ideas and experiences. It also offers a wide range of skills and experiences (e.g. languages or cultural understanding) and allows a company to provide service to customers on a global basis. Issues mainly arise when perceptual, cultural and language barriers aren’t overcome. Ineffective communication of key objectives results in confusion, lack of teamwork, and low morale. Implementing successful diversity in the workplace initiatives requires an acceptance of change, forward-thinking leadership, communication with all employees, a robust policy, and a plan of execution that is monitored once implemented. More organisations are employing applicants with disabilities and mental health conditions, as they can see the advantages of recruiting a diverse workforce. Diversity makes the workplace more productive and also: Reflects the nature of the organisation's clients and consumers more accurately.Offers more choice in recruitment. Brings different life experiences, expertise and skills to the organisation. Makes employers identify positive changes, which benefit all employees, not just employees with disabilities. Sources of Guidance. Remploy - the UK&rsquo's largest provider of specialist employment services to disabled people Shaw Trust - a national charity that supports disabled and disadvantaged people to prepare for work and find jobs. Business in the Community/Opportunity Now. - includes information on Race to Opportunity. Guardian Careers Diversity hub - issues facing job seekers. EmployAbility - a not-for-profit organisation that can support students and graduates regarding disability inclusive employers and provide advice on sensitive issues such as disclosure of a disability. Section 6: The Importance of Team Work and Customer Service. Two key areas where you’ ll need to demonstrate workplace success, is teamwork and customer service. The ability to work as part of a team is one of the most important skills in today’s job market. There is a link between customer services and teamwork as more than one person is responsible for customer service, and there can be teams working with the same customer. On the other hand, businesses succeed by getting, keeping and growing customers. Firms must figure out how to keep their customers longer, grow them into bigger customers, make them more profitable and serve them more efficiently. Customers like the human element of a transaction, as we are social creatures, but technology has advanced and more transactions are digital and/or virtual. So this unit aims to give the learner an introduction to teamwork, customer service, and the different types of customer and communication types – both formal and informal. The learning objectives will help you to: Understand why effective teamwork is important. Understand team values, goals and roles. Understand why it is important to interact positively with people in the workplace. Understand the difference between internal and external customers.Understand the difference between formal and informal communication. Be able to communicate with customers. Why effective teamwork is important. Employers are looking for workers who can contribute their own ideas, but also want people who can work with others to create and develop projects and plans. Teamwork involves building relationships and working with other people using several important skills and habits. A deeply rooted sense of mission drives successful teams, and every team member will have to understand the mission and goals right from the start. With this approach, shared team goals become more important than individual agendas. And these team objectives help bind a team together and keep it cohesive, even when obstacles or internal disagreements arise. When you establish team goals upfront, the pay-off is enhanced productivity later on. Effective teams have: Higher efficiency: Since teams combine the efforts of individuals, they can accomplish more than an individual working alone. Faster speed: Because teams draw on the efforts of many contributors, they can often complete tasks and activities in less time. More thoughtful ideas: Each person who works on a problem or set of tasks may bring different information and knowledge to bear, which can result in solutions and approaches an individual would not have identified. Greater effectiveness: When people coordinate their efforts, they can divide up roles and tasks to more thoroughly address an issue. For example, in hospital settings, teamwork has been found to increase patient safety more than when only individual efforts are made to avoid issues or mishaps. Team Goals, Norms and Values. To achieve the team goal, you also need agreement on how it will be accomplished. And individual responsibilities need to be well defined. If they're not, productivity slows down, as team members wait for more guidance. Or else, more dominant team members simply take charge. The ideal situation, of course, is for everyone to participate equally. Then, each team member is just as invested as the next.Team values or norms are used to assess how well team members are interacting. Team values/norms enable team members to call each other out on any behaviour that is dysfunctional or that is negatively impacting the success of the team. These are some further values which help a team to work effectively: Team members are equal, respected colleagues: all team members are equal; every team member's opinion will be thoughtfully considered; each team member will keep all commitments by the agreed upon due date; each team member agrees to constantly assess whether team members are honouring their commitment to the team norms. Team member communication: team members will speak respectfully to each other; will not talk down to each other; will positively recognise and thank each other for team contributions. Team member interaction in meetings: team members will listen without interrupting; hold no side or competing conversations; follow the rules for effective meetings; attend the meeting on time; always work from an agenda and minutes will be recorded at each meeting. Interacting Positively with Others. Teamwork can be tough. Dealing with different personalities and compromise is not necessarily easy. However, it makes sense that the better our relationships are at work, the happier and more productive we're going to be. Good working relationships give us several other benefits: our work is more enjoyable when we have good relationships with those around us. Also, people are more likely to go along with changes that we want to implement, and we're more innovative and creative. Mutual Respect – When you respect the people that you work with, you value their input and ideas, and they value yours. Working together, you can develop solutions based on your collective insight, wisdom and creativity. Mindfulness – This means taking responsibility for your words and actions. Those who are mindful are careful and attend to what they say, and they don't let their own negative emotions impact the people around them. Welcoming Diversity – People with good relationships not only accept diverse people and opinions, but they welcome them. For instance, when your friends and colleagues offer different opinions from yours, you take the time to consider what they have to say and factor their insights into your decision-making. Schedule Time to Build Relationships - Devote a portion of your day toward relationship building, even if it's just 20 minutes, perhaps broken up into five-minute segments. Ask a colleague out for a quick cup of coffee or ask if they need help. These little interactions help build the foundation of a good relationship, especially if they're face-to-face. Use your Personal Awareness - We looked at Personal Awareness development at the start of the Module. Use some of the learnings from how you build your confidence and esteem and apply that in the workplace. For example, show your appreciation whenever someone helps you. If someone looks flustered, ask if you can help. If someone is struggling to understand something, ask if you can show them how to do it. Every small positive interaction and/or action will help to build someone else’s self-esteem and confidence.Be Positive - Positivity is attractive and contagious, and it will help strengthen your relationships with your colleagues. No one wants to be around someone negative all the time. Don’t complain either, focus on what you can change and control and let go of those you can’t! Different Team Types Everybody tends to behave in a particular way when working with other people. Meredith Belbin and his colleagues found that there are common ‘clusters’ of these behaviours, and these clusters are stable enough to be separately identifiable. Everybody seems to have a preference for one or more of these ‘ Team Roles’ when behaving naturally in a group. If you have more than one ‘ natural role’ then you can switch between them if you chose, and this is useful knowledge if you ever need to fill a different role in a team. The significance is that by observing real teams over a period of several years, Dr Belbin and his group learned how to predict whether a team would succeed or fail, just by knowing the mix of roles within the group. They could also make a failing group succeed by adding somebody with the right-role – or make a successful group fail by taking away a vital supporting role. They also found that if team members identify, share and discuss their team roles then this improves how people work and live together. Have a look through and see if you can spot your preferred role. Internal vs External Customers. The external customer is the ultimate consumer of the company's goods or services, but the internal customer facilitates the delivery to the external customer. The internal customer is a colleague within the company, such as a worker in a different department. An internal customer can be part of an external organisation that is intimately linked in with the company by providing services such as the delivery of the goods to the external customer. Ultimately, an external customer has the option of taking his needs to another company if he is unsatisfied with the present one, but an internal customer is likely to have a binding contract with the company. It's also helpful to think of a customer service network as consisting of a series of inputs and outputs, with yourself at the centre. Various things get passed to you (such as information, work tasks and queries) and you, in turn, pass your work or communications to other internal customers in the chain, or straight to the external customer. Communication types include: via call centres, web, mobile phones, retail, mail order, interactive TV, personal data, stores, interactive TV, mobile apps, tablets. Every single one of these touchpoints needs to ensure customer needs can be met. Informal Communication Types. Within an organisation, the ‘grapevine’ is the main informal communication route: Grapevines are faster than formal communication networks and can easily bypass individuals without restraint. Grapevines can carry useful information quickly throughout an organisation. Grapevines can supplement information being disseminated through formal communication networks. Grapevines provide outlets for individual’s imaginations and apprehensions. Grapevines satisfy individuals’ need to know what is actually going on within an organisation. Grapevines help people feel a sense of belonging within the organisation. Today organisational grapevines are a standard part of anyone’s organisational life. In fact, researchers estimate that 70 per cent of all communication that occurs within an organisation occurs in informal communication networks. These can include:Conversations, during breaks, in restrooms, in canteens, and training sessions. Electronic mails. Text messages. Formal Communication Types. Formal communication networks exist within organisations on a downward, upward, & horizontal/lateral basis. Formal communication networks are very important for the day-to-day functioning of any organisation, and communication with both internal and external customers. These are some examples: Email - All companies should give their customers a way to lodge customer complaints via email. This way, a customer knows they can reach you pretty quickly and can use a channel that they are familiar with. The direct phone line to the complaints department - A lot of your customers will still want to pick up the phone and dial in to talk to someone, so make sure you have a customer service number, or even better, a customer complaint number. Remember to keep this number manned and try to answer the calls as quickly as possible. You don’t want your customers hanging on hold for 5 minutes and you certainly don’t want to be outsourcing the experience (if you can help it). Customers love talking to some inside your company, and that goes a long way to show you care. Social Media - We&rsquo've discussed how digital skills are essential. Customers use social media too so this can be a formal form of communication. Here are some tips, if you are using social media for dealing with customers quickly. Social Media is in the public domain &ndash, so your messages including replies, and your customers’ are shared in public where anyone can read them and share them. Keep your communications calm and clear, so there are no misunderstandings; Don’t get defensive – it doesn’t reflect well on the organisation if you belittle or deny the customer’s allegations. Accept that the customer’s point of view is valid and is a fair reflection of their experience and feelings; Correct mistakes – if somebody shares inaccurate information about your organisation or services, it’s okay to correct or clarify anything which is clearly inaccurate; Demonstrate service – if possible, publicly share how you are resolving any complaints to help others who may be thinking about complaining; Take it private – if there is a serious problem, you can acknowledge that you are helping the customer in the public forum and then communicate with them privately to resolve the issue. Social networks typically have a way to message people privately, or you could use email; Be formal – you might not have room to be verbose, but don’t use text speak, smileys or other informal abbreviations. They can be confusing and can seem excessively relaxed and disrespectful, especially when responding to complaints. Use proper English, and send a couple of separate messages.Help others too – other people will have similar issues and might come across the social media discussion many months later. Post helpful web links or provide your customer service contact details for anyone else who has a similar issueAcknowledge – even if no response is required (such as when customers praise your service), acknowledge every message, and share important lessons with your colleagues. Remember, your competitors and customers can see this information too. Communication with Customers. Here a tips for ‘how’ to communicate with customers: Friendly – if you are handling a colleague or a customer on a face-to-face basis, smile and start with a friendly greeting. In business to business trade, it’s increasingly common to use first names when dealing with people. Attentive - when you’re-listening to a customer or talking to them, focus your complete attention on them. If you’ re distracted, try to eliminate the distraction, by taking the phone somewhere quieter, for example. Convenient - before starting a lengthy conversation, check whether the other person has time for it, or ask to schedule time. Don’t let the communication suffer because one person needs to hurry it. Respectful – communications are increasingly informal, but you should remain polite and respectful of the customer at all times. Remember the tips on effective communications and listening earlier on in the Module. Tailored – personalise your message to the customer’s requirements and knowledge level. Give a Little, Take a Little - Negotiations and relationships are built on this concept. There are always "trade-offs." Let the customer feel like they have "won" some of their points if negotiating a resolution. If they walk away from the table with a deal, where they felt like all they did was "give," it may well be publicised on media, or they won’t return as a customer. Creating a Culture of Caring - A key part of communication is to able to connect with customers and with each employee. Company culture needs to encompass how employees treated each other, not just the customer. Often, you can choose to deliver service face to face, by phone, by email, by post, or on social media. The best channel to use is usually: The most convenient for the customer - if you’re-initiating contact, ask each customer how they prefer to be contacted, and use their preference; The channel the customer used to contact you - Reply to a letter with a letter, an email with an email, and a phone message with a phone call; Don’t get locked into using one communication channel if it is no longer the best way to deal with a particular enquiry, though: If you need to discuss a lengthy report, email might be best so that you can insert comments in the report. If you need to discuss something which customers feel strongly about, it’s better to arrange to meet them or to speak to them. You can only change the channel with the customer’s consent, so ask if they mind, and explain how you can serve them better using a different channel. Now we’ ve come to the end of the Module, please complete this final activity to help you on your way.