Meta-programs for a more diverse definition of ‘diversity’.
I read an article in HR magazine today about diversity in the workplace. The magazine will be partnering with Bosch UK in carrying out a Diversity Survey to assess the views of HR Professionals on the value of diversity in the workplace. In this blog I would like to suggest that a useful definition of ‘diversity’ could be expanded beyond what is typically thought of.
When we talk of diversity in the workplace we tend to think of things such as sexual orientation, age, disability, gender, race, nationality and religion. Indeed, these are the categories that are mentioned in the HR Magazine article. Understandably, these capture the attention of those in HR as they are legally recognised categories.
We would like to suggest, however, that an expansion of the notion of diversity that could benefit many organisations would include a recognition of thinking, procedural and behavioural styles which, in NLP, we call Meta-programs.
Those of you who have been frequent readers of this blog will have heard me discuss Meta-programs before and will be aware that they are the scarcely conscious, yet enormously influential filters that individuals use to process, make sense of and respond to information from the world around them. When we are unaware of the diversity of Meta-programs there is a strong risk that we will assign people to roles that are not well suited for them, and differences in Meta-programs can also generate considerable workplace conflict as people consider those with different Meta-programs to be “difficult” or “obstructive” rather than just “different”.
An example of a Meta-program? Over the last few days I have been reading the excellent book How to Save an Hour Every Day by Michael Heppell. Heppell writes at one point:
“Everywhere I go I am amazed by the amount of time people waste trying to do tasks which they have neither the skill nor the desire to do. It’s a global problem.”
This statement is both fascinating and (I suspect unintentionally) amusing. Heppell could very easily be writing about Meta-program mismatches and the resultant waste of time and other resources. He also inadvertently hints at what is possibly one of his own Meta-programs when he uses the word “global”.
One of the most commonly referenced Meta-program distinctions is the Global/Specific Program (aka Big Picture/Detail). Those with a ‘Global’ preference will tend to look at the Big Picture and, as Heppell has clearly skilfully done, notice trends and patterns. Those with a ‘Specific’ preference will tend to prefer working with fine detail, which they will do with precision and care but may not notice the Big Picture or systemic characteristics.
Does it tell us anything about Michael Heppell’s preferences, I wonder, that he uses words like ‘global’ and that he has written a book on time management, a classic area of challenge for those with a Global/Big Picture Meta-program preference? To be continued…
We look at incorporating the diversity of Meta-programs for a more effective, conflict-free workplace on our 5 day NLP for Business course, available at a number of venues throughout the UK.