Seeking Determined Individuals, Team Players that Work Well Under Pressure?

Human beings are incredible. Especially those under the age of five. Spend a few minutes observing them and you cannot help but be amazed. How often have we seen a child who loves animals and we think they are going to make a great vet one day. A child who is good with a soccer ball, we say is going to make a great soccer player one day. We are quick to see the potential in children.

Why then, do we not see the potential in adults? One could argue that as adults, we go to the other extreme and are quick to find faults. Do we recognise the potential an employee with different life experiences can bring to our workplace, or do we allow our perception to be influenced by their age, their gender or the colour of their skin?

When an individual has moved continents, learned a new language and culture, and gone back to University to have their degree recognised in their new country, are we quick to turn to each other and say, they are going to make an outstanding team leader or Manager one day?

Building diversity: it's a long term process.

Australia is a country built on immigration and the unfortunate truth is societal forces serve to separate us from each other. People from different age, economic, religious and ethnic groups are often isolated from each other in schools, jobs, and neighbourhoods. It seems logical though that because Australia is made up of these various groups, businesses must cater for a diverse market by employing a diverse workforce.

The challenges to meet the needs of a diverse workforce require sustained effort; organisations cannot build stronger relationships or learn new skills overnight, especially given the diversity of groups within Australia. Let us reinforce how a multicultural, productive and resilient workforce can benefit you and your business.

A diverse workforce will lead to business ideas and creativity that appeal to the needs of our country’s market. Individuals from varied backgrounds and ages bring with them varied ideas and experiences. It has been proven that knowing more than one language opens minds to new, fresh perspectives, so that the multilingual individual develops an ability to look at things in a different way. Multilingual people often present creative solutions to problems that a monolingual person may not envision.

Diversity of thought is critical to reaching the most innovative, customer-focused solutions to the many issues, problems and challenges confronting our business. As such, it is the responsibility of every manager to value and secure diversity of thought in his/her work unit by employing and developing the highest caliber individuals differing from one another culturally, intellectually and experientially, as well as by race, gender, physical and mental abilities, and other factors.

If you have been fortunate enough to properly interact with refugees and newly arrived Australians, you understand that the word ‘fortunate’ is not used lightly here. It is a densely populated group of individuals who are polite, generous and hard-working. Sought after qualities in any workplace.

Relationships are powerful. Our one-to-one connections with each other are the foundation for change. And building relationships with people from different cultures, is key in building diverse workplaces that are powerful enough to achieve significant goals. As people work on challenging problems, they must hang in there together when things get hard. They will put the effort in to support each other. Our employees will collectively resist the efforts of those who use divide-and-conquer techniques-pitting one cultural group against another. If each person builds a network of diverse and strong relationships in the workplace, they will come together, work together long-term and enhance any workplace.

Despite the clear advantages described above, businesses may still hesitate to employ individuals from diverse backgrounds. While it is good business practice to be aware of and acknowledge potential concerns, your workplace may benefit from further conversation with Diversity First, an organisation that understands the ins and outs of diversifying your workplace successfully.

Interacting with diverse cultures requires that you be flexible and socially adaptable. Again, sought after qualities. Traveling is a good example. Despite our best efforts, we’ve all had moments when we have felt like an outsider – a real Aussie. It could have been because the waiter didn’t understand our pronunciation or that time in Italy you asked for a ‘latte’ and were served plain hot milk. We may have laughed at ourselves, but after several years of being made to feel different, it’s natural to experience frustration. Next time you find yourself out of your comfort zone, take a moment to articulate how you are feeling. If you’re lucky, people won’t make a judgement on what you don’t know but might see the potential in you.

Recruitment advice for organisations

Some of the most common requests by employers when seeking future employees are for individuals who are determined, work well under pressure and are excellent team players. There are hundreds, thousands of Australians who have already proven to be determined, resilient and incredible team players. They may not have been born in Australia, but perhaps for this reason alone, they have proven that they are flexible, adaptable and are not afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone.

Let’s not underestimate each other. Let’s give potential a launching pad.


Emmanuel Ngomsi, (2006) Small Business Monthly: Educate Workers to Compete in a Global Economy

Marya Axner, Cultural Competence and Spirituality in Community Building - Community Tool Box. University of Kansas.

Australia in the Asian Century (2012) Licensed from the Commonwealth of Australia under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence.

Marya Axner, Cultural Competence and Spirituality in Community Building - Community Tool Box. University of Kansas.

Simon & Simon (2016) Do You “Talk the Talk”? – Why Communication in Business is so Important

About the author

T.A. Kiaos Ph.D (c) is an Organisational Anthropologist specialising in critical ethnographic research methods. T.A. Kiaos' research spans several interconnected topics: the underlying systems of cultural and sub-cultural meaning, managerial ideology and normative control, with a particularly strong focus on how these interconnected phenomena affect marginal cohorts in the workplace.


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