In a globalised world, diversity is an inevitable necessity. Be it social or work environments, there are times when we have to cross our paths and deal with people from different backgrounds. With the waning regional and international boundaries, a company is comprised of people from diverse gender, age, race, ethnicity, and religion. Consequently, cross-cultural diversity becomes a certainty.
For companies to thrive in the modern era, they should adapt with the new work environment comprising of multicultural values. Differences should not be seen in a negative light as to disrupt company’s sustainability. On the contrary, organisations should embrace diversity and delve upon the right strategy to leverage it, to boost employee engagement.
Considering talent immigration and increasingly flexible talent demographics across the world, companies are required to respond to the phenomenon by constructing culturally-aware and adaptable work environment. An organisation made up of people from different cultural backgrounds will lead to major change in the company’s decision-making process. If managed well, culturally-diverse teams can increase productivity and improve employee morale.
See: 9 Tips to Increase Employee Productivity at Work
If you need suggestions to build cross-cultural understanding in your company, here are some practices:
Align the vision and value
Common vision and value are fundamental elements to ensure company’s success. While your team might consist of multicultural talents, as a leader you have to make sure that everyone shares the same mission; to successfully meet the business goals.
Create an environment that will support employees to achieve business goals and ensure that your team has a clear gripping direction. Each team member should be provided with sufficient tools to carry out their duties properly and also be assigned to positions that best meet their abilities.
Understand the team member’s characteristics
Skin colour difference is typically accompanied by differences in language, culture, and worldview. As a HR leader, it is part of your responsibilities to minimise the gap created owing to cultural divide and prevent any detrimental mix-ups. For example, Western and Eastern folks have different ways of expressing their opinions.
In Western countries, people tend to be more outspoken and free to convey their feelings. Meanwhile, in Eastern countries, people have the ‘culture of shame’ that makes them holds back in expressing their feelings. Hence, to avoid conflicts and misunderstanding, you have to find out a method where the team of two contradictory cultures can cooperate well.
Set the norms and guidelines
As stated earlier, people with multicultural backgrounds have different personality traits, and this affects their work styles, too. To avoid clashes between one another, leaders should set the norms and guidelines that must be followed by every team member. However, you should not enforce your own working style to your staff.
Rather, you should seek to find the best win-win solution for all parties. Socialise the policy such that everyone is aware of the game rules. Encourage employees to treat everyone equally with respect and sympathy, such as no racial jokes or epithets related to one’s skin colour.
Maintain communication flow
Ineffective communication within a team might contribute to business’ inefficiency. Not only that, misinterpretation arising from the diversity at the workplace can lead to prolonged conflicts that will lower employee morale. Hence, HR leaders should maintain communication flow by implementing an open policy so that everyone can freely express their opinions, ideas, or complaints.
If at a time tension arises between employees, you should address internal conflicts immediately.
Companies should design diversity training for employees as a part of compulsory and regular agenda within the organisation.
Nevertheless, drawing upon cross-cultural perspectives in an organisation, is not something that can be done by one party alone. It needs support, commitment, and concrete efforts from all the elements within the organisation, especially from upper directional boards going down to the staffers.
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