Bet you’ve been interacting lots virtually these past few weeks! So what have you learned about managing diversity using ZOOM or SKYPE? Not as easy as you thought, right? So I’m betting that if your team is dispersed in various countries or made up of a rainbow of cultures (as is often the case in my native highly multicultural Canada), you’ve had to manage a few unexpected challenges. Among which is the shocking speed at which you had to adapt your managerial ways by crossing over to the cyber world (here, enjoy a few quick tips to facilitate multicultural online communications). Then, once you moved beyond the tech headaches, yet another challenge arose: how do you get your multicultural team to deliver optimal performance? Given the diversity of exchanges and likely frequent communication breakdowns you might have experienced, cultural training probably comes to mind.
Understanding cultural differences
At the very basis of working relationships lies the basic principle of communicating with your people to lead them down the intended path of success. If you’re dealing with folks from a different cultural background but are clueless about their cultural values, you may be navigating unfamiliar and stormy seas.
Learning about cultural values – such as uncertainty avoidance, individualism/collectivism or low/high power distance – provides clarity on how people from diverse cultures (including yours) communicate. For instance, say you provide rigorous and detailed directives believing your team will clearly understand the intended results (especially in a virtual communication context). You may secure the attention of your Brazilian colleagues, a culture that relies on superiors to call the shots (high-power distance). However, you will lose the interest of your German staff, which tends to emphasize equality and shared decision-making (low power distance).
How cultural training can help
Cultural training helps executives and managers get a better perspective on how their multicultural team thinks, communicates and operates. Exploring such aspects as strategic thinking, verbal and non-verbal behaviours or cross-cultural leadership and how you measure up on each scale will help develop your skills to manage diversity and engage in cross-cultural business.
When leaders grasp the intricacies of cultural differences and learn how to manage them, they improve their ability to motivate and inspire their teams to reach intended objectives – even better when the entire team is trained. Performance can’t go anywhere but up.
ACCULTURA provides customized online and on site cultural intelligence training designed for leaders and their multicultural teams. We also deliver unique e-learning tools to facilitate cross-cultural business. Contact us for more information.