How to deal with cultural differences in the workplace
Management of multicultural work teams
Multicultural work teams have become very common in recent years due to globalization, relocation and different economic situations that have led to movements of team. For that reason, one of the main talents that today’s leaders need is the ability to manage and take advantage of cultural differences correctly.
It is not easy to work managing cultural and social differences, different languages, different management styles, different places, very different time zones and different communication channels, but today’s society is demanding that. Many current work teams are multicultural work teams made up of people from different cultures. Great professionals working together for a common goal. The success of the projects in which they collaborate.
To try to help you in this type of situation we propose today a series of good practices that we can use with multicultural work teams:
When working with people from different cultural backgrounds it is important that you are flexible and prepared to adapt to their way of working. Your way of doing things does not have to be the best way of doing things. Keep an open mind and be prepared to change your own practices and perspectives if necessary.
Be clear about what you are expressing and do not assume anything
Different cultures have different ways of expressing and understanding emotions. The amount of passion or energy with which a person must communicate, or how to critique a project or a person, or how rigid the deadlines are, may not be the same in your culture as in that of your team. Something that may be passionate to you may seem aggressive to the others in one of your multicultural teams. Don’t take anything for granted and try to make clear of what you want to say before showing too much expression or passion. Even if it comes naturally to you and you have always done it and others have understood.
Research the different cultures and values of your multicultural teams
The sooner you begin to understand the cultures and core values of the people you work with, the easier it will be to understand and respect differences in work style and understand how to best deal with them. Also, research what kinds of behaviors and gestures may be insulting to the people you work with.
Treat your entire team fairly
Don’t assume that people from a certain culture will be better than others at doing certain jobs. Make sure you choose your team based on their knowledge and experience and not on their cultural background.
Be prepared to hear the opinions of others. They may have their own opinions about what is best for the project and their preferred way of doing the work. Take the time to listen to your team members so you can avoid diplomatic mistakes that could spoil your relationships.
Understand the different ways of understanding time
People from different cultures and backgrounds are very likely to have different views about time and how to manage it. Punctuality, for example, is understood differently in different cultures. A meeting scheduled at 14:00 could be understood by someone from another culture as being scheduled around 14:00 or as being about an hour long. It is possible that someone will arrive at 14:10 and not think they are late. You must understand these cultural differences and accept them.
Understand what motivates and inspires your multicultural team members
Some people may be motivated to earn more money while others may be seeking recognition and taking on more responsibility. If you can understand what drives the different members of your team you will be able to use that knowledge to motivate and encourage them to work in a way that is aligned with the overall goals of your team.
Be aware of holidays in different places
If you’re from Spain, you can’t expect to have to work on Christmas or New Year’s Day. But in other places there may be days that are as important to those cultures as they are to you these days. You should know which holidays affect your team, whether they are in your country or location or not. Some important days in other cultures are Ramadan, Chinese New Year, etc.
Employees from other cultures are able to add value to the company not only through their work but also by helping the company adapt to today’s changing market conditions by seeing things from other perspectives. Your mission is to take advantage of these cultural differences and apply successful strategies to enhance the commitment to work and develop camaraderie and new friendship in the workplace.