Building diversity into your organisation using Te ao Māori

First of all ‘Diversity’ is important because our country, increasingly consist of various cultural, racial, gender, people with a range of abilities and disabilities as well as many different ethnic groups. We can learn from one another, but first we must have a level of understanding about each other in order to facilitate collaboration and cooperation.  It also makes perfect sense economically to engage with people from all groups in your community.

A diverse organisation has more intellectual power, provided people can be ‘who they are’ at work.  This then allows them to share their culture, knowledge and skills, it makes them feel valued and they are more likely to repay their employer with loyalty and passion.

A great starting point for everyone (Employers, staff, prospective staff) can be to adopt the following Māori values;

  1. Manaakitanga
    One of the fundamental principles in Māori culture, manaakitanga is the enactment of mana-enhancing behaviour towards others. It is a measurement of people’s ability to extend kindness and generosity. The concept of manaakitanga includes understanding tapu sacredness and mana dignity. In our relationships, we are acutely aware of our mana and the mana of others.
  2. Whanaungatanga
    The people are our wealth. Whanaungatanga is about being part of a larger whole. Māori are related to all living things and thus express whanaungatanga with their surroundings. Whanaungatanga is about knowing you are not alone, but that you have a wider set of connections that provide support, assistance, nurturing, guidance and direction when needed. Understanding of roles and responsibilities are also part of whanaungatanga. Whanaungatanga embodies the ambitions of collectivism. Interdependence with each other rather than independence is the goal.
  3. Rangatiratanga
    Rangatiratanga describes the attributes of a rangatira leader and how these are given expression through humility, diplomacy, generosity, resilience and empowerment. We understand the importance of practicing what you preach, walking the talk, following through on commitments made, integrity and honesty.
  4. Kotahitanga
    Focused on developing and maintaining a unity of purpose and direction and avoiding approaches and decisions that lead to division and disharmony. A commitment through oneness of mind and action to achieving its vision emulates the practice of Kotahitanga. All are encouraged to make their contribution, to have their say. It is the consensus of the collective that determines what is best for the group.

There are many other values we could add, however I believe if an organisation truly adopts these values and nurture their staff to understand them fully, you then have the environment you will need to attract diverse talent and more importantly develop an environment where they most like to stay.

This is not about putting the values up on your wall, its about running masterclass sessions where the value is fully discussed and people are encourage to talk about this approach and how they feel about them.  Management needs to re-enforce these values and champions within the team should also be encouraged to help people understand WHY and how they are used.

So how do we build our Diverse team?

The majority of organisations will need to change the way they recruit by moving from a reactive ‘I hope people apply to my advert’ to a proactive environment where you build talent networks, marketing channels, talent pools, develop appropriate employment branding to use in these channels i.e. do not just post job adverts into them.

You will use different approaches to target the diverse audience you are looking for.  Essential if you want to build a true talent pool of diverse people, is to develop relationships with other organisations that are happy collectively working with you to build a pool for your group.  This concept is foreign for many organisations, yet collectiveness is such a powerful tool for finding talent, keeping the pool engaged and helping each other when looking for ‘hard to find talent’.

Get to know each other.

Once everyone truly understands the values above you can start to get to know each other in a ‘safe’ environment.  Simple staff activities can help with this process.  In the past I have found ‘pot luck’ lunches where people bring food they normally cook and share with each other and explain where the recipes came from etc.

Another approach is to have someone write staff stories which are shared across the team.  These stories bring people closer together as they see similar cuircumstances and find common ground to talk about.

When will you know you have a diverse organisation?

When your board, executive team and your workforce are full with diversity.  At this stage you will not only see a diverse workforce but you have the chance to create a great culture and high performing team who are able to tackle problems many different ways using ideas and solutions from a the range of different thinking people you have.


Hope you found this helpful.



Tony Cutting
Coach/Talent Management Consultant
M. 021 911 722

PS.  Yes, I am happy to work with organisations who are keen to adopt this approach.











The Rose Compass

OK a little confession here.  This is a tool I have been working on for a few years to help people at work as well as help managers, team leaders, supervisors become stronger talent managers. I have used this tactic a lot when managing staff and have been able to get great results even with those people who may not have been on the companies’ wavelength or that keen on having me take over from their previous manager.  I now use this tool in my approach with my coaching clients and find it works very well for me.

OH…And by results I mean loyalty, trust, honesty and positive outcomes for the business.

The goal of this tool is to provide a simple weekly exercise that every manager can use to help develop a meaningful working relationship with their most important resource – their people.  It is also design so you do not have to purchase some fancy piece of software or invest heavily in management courses to learn.

I have looked to keep it simple so if is effective and easily actioned.  My hope being this will make your work life better.  I suspect you can apply this tool to your other relationships and find improvement their as well if you need it.

So what is a Rose Compass?
The compass rose is an old design element found on compasses, maps, and even monuments (e.g. the Tower of the Winds in Athens and the pavement in Dougga, Tunis, during Roman times) to show cardinal directions and frequently intermediate direction.

Early forms of the compass rose were known as wind roses, since no differentiation was made between a directional point and the wind that emanated from that direction.

The purpose of the Rose Compass is to help you stay on track.  The Rose Compass can show you where you want to go and help you understand where you are actually heading.

Applying the Rose Compass to Talent Management.
Understanding the principle that there are always a minimum of two directions we are heading is important within Talent Management.  No matter whether you are working for someone else or working for a client there are these forces at play – what the company or client wants you to achieve, and what you want to personally achieve.  Like with a nautical Rose Compass the trick is to monitor the situation on a regular basis to ensure you are heading to achieving your goal/s.

From a managers view the value in a Rose Compass is know what the employee is looking to achieve for themselves personally and tracking this against what the business is wanting them to achieve.  If you can find the matches you can coach and manage the employee effectively.  If no match exists or the direction of the employee is unclear, then you have left yourself open for trouble.

Now this is very important …
Unlike, a performance review this approach starts with an absolute focus on the staff member’s needs.  Where are they heading? what do they want to achieve, how can you help them get there?  and in many cases you will find that initially you may need to help people discover a direction.  The great thing is once this is established you can then start mapping the tasks and things they want to do to the tasks and things the organisation wants to do.

This is a very powerful tool as suddenly you have the very means to ensure you are heading in the same direction.  This is how we truly acheve a Win/Win/Win situation, build strong working relationships and if applied to your customers, family and friends, more meaningful relationships all around.

OK, now the hard part – before I get to the tactics of how you work this.  Yes, it may also mean it is time to realise you are on different paths and then you need to work through a positive plan that allows both parties to move on with dignity and respect.

Putting the Rose Compass in action 
I prefer weekly meetings with staff normally between 20-30 minutes per week and unlike the norm these are not performance meetings driven by what the manager or organisation is looking to achieve.  In fact, they are the complete opposite and much more effective in my opinion.  The sessions are to check-in with the staff member and see if they are on track with their plans. Now it may take some time for you to build the trust and if you want to know how to do this please read more about He Waka Taura the talent management framework I developed with Hohepa Patea.

But once this trust is built and the staff member realises you are truly invested in their success you will find these sessions very powerful.  It starts by finding out what the staff member wants to achieve (long term) and looking at how the current role contributes to that success while also clearly showing how that the actions being taken are benefitting both parties i.e. The journey is on track.  This may mean writing down the things the staff member is looking to achieve and how they are doing that on a daily basis and then comparing this to what the organisation (or manager) is looking to achieve by writing these down side by side.

In some cases, their maybe small actions required to alter the course and armed with the information on what the staff member is looking to achieve a talented manager can show what is required for both parties to achieve their goals.  Of course if the tracks are too far apart or totally incompatible then more serious actions will need to be taken.

This method is highly successful it has helped me build very successful teams in the past, even when inheriting someone else’s staff who did not necessarily ‘warm’ to me initially I was able to forge a way forward.

You can back these meetings up with monthly performance meetings if needed but I promise you when you get the chemistry right between you and your team member you will find this approach very effective.


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