Multi-cultural Teams

5 Errors To Avoid When Managing Multi-cultural Teams

Posted by
  1. Overemphasising company culture

Every organisation has a company culture that employees should embrace. If your employees understand and follow the established culture, then workplace can be easier to manage.

  • Solution

When managing different cultures, create an environment where individuals’ cultures are welcomed and respected. If you shape the work environment to promote freedom of expression and avoid judgment or biases, you will create a healthy company culture that enhances job satisfaction and performance.

  1. Perpetuating cultural stereotypes

It is possible to go too far with acknowledging cultural differences and inadvertently perpetuate cultural stereotypes. Even though cultural stereotypes don’t always have negative connotations, be mindful that good intentions can blind you and make you unaware that you’re perpetuating a stereotype.

For example, you might assign Asian team members complex tasks that require intense analytical skills based on the assumption that they are naturally good at them. 

  • Solution

As a manager, you’re responsible for developing employees’ careers and drawing the best out of them. Try looking beyond the culture and ethnicity and see the people underneath. Examine what they are actually good at and set out to fill their skill gaps.

You can also combat stereotyping by creating diverse work groups and assigning them different tasks. Rotate members within the work groups to ensure they develop a well-rounded skill set.

Related link: 10 Benefits of a Multi-Generational Team

  1. Ignoring microaggressions and dog whistles

Microaggressions and dog whistles are often a by-product of cultural stereotypes. They can also hide in seemingly lighthearted jabs and jokes between employees. As such, they can be hard to miss and more likely to occur in a multicultural group.

  • Solution

Recognising microaggressions and dog whistles can be difficult. Worse still, employees subjected to them may not have the proof to make an official complaint.

You can address this by encouraging employees to speak up when something makes them uncomfortable. Ensure they don’t suffer any consequences for reporting their discomfort to HR.

  1. Underestimating communication differences

Communication is the backbone of a successful company, and effective communication is essential when managing a multicultural team. However, you cannot assume that all the members of a multicultural group understand spoken or written communication the same way you do.

  • Solution

Collaboration is one of the most effective tools for combating communication inefficiencies. When people work on various tasks together, they develop a deeper understanding of how each communicates.

  1. Overestimating the capacity for flexibility

Like communication, how people make decisions, solve problems and resolve conflict differs from culture to culture. The level of uncertainty avoidance will determine how these critical processes work in your company.

  • Solution

Companies must be highly flexible and quickly adapt to survive in a dynamic market. However, you’re likely to compromise the unity of your diverse team if you expect everyone to jump on board with a split-second decision.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *