By Jose Ruiz
Jose Ruiz serves as Alder Koten’s Chief Executive Officer providing vision, strategic direction and the roadmap for the firm’s future. He is also involved in executive search work focused on board members, CEOs and senior-level executives; and consulting engagements related to leadership and organizational effectiveness helping clients create thriving cultures.
Today’s workplace is much more diverse than twenty years ago. People from all kinds of background, including nationalities, ethnicities, and religions, can be found working together in an office. Besides, differences in education levels, self-perceptions (positive or negative), and social classes also contribute to the complexity of a modern workplace.
Thus, more than ever before, a leader should have the so-called “multicultural management skills.”
First things first, let’s recognize the important workplace issues that are likely to create misunderstandings among team members and what a manager can do to mitigate them. Six of the most pressing issues are time management, respect for authority, teamwork and responsibility, interpretations of transparency and ethics, communication styles, and acceptance and reluctance in giving and receiving feedback.
In some cultures, being prompt is a rarity and being late is the “normal.” Ensuring that every team member is on the same page regarding timeframes and deadlines would require an extra effort. Start with developing a strong understanding of the company culture’s prompt and deadline-oriented culture. Make it a habit among team members with lesser-important deadlines. Over time, team members would be more accustomed to being prompt and on time.
Respect for authority.
Every culture teaches people to be respectful to the authority. However, the degree of respect and how people respond to authority differs from culture to culture. Also, the higher the education level, the more likely the individual to scrutinize the quality of the authority. Thus, a manager should be aware of these differences and expect to receive different responses. For this, you would need to be ready to respond accordingly.
Teamwork and responsibility.
Teamwork has a lot to do with being responsible. A good team comprises of team members who are responsible for their tasks and each other. They are also aware of whom the accountable person is and ensuring the tasks are completed satisfactorily. Different backgrounds affect how a team operates since the levels of esteem and skills differ from person to person. Thus, it is a manager’s role to ensure that every team member works according to their skills and encourage them to work confidently despite their differences.
Interpretations of transparency and ethics.
How transparent should it be? How ethical? Every individual perceives transparency and ethics differently. However, when standards are used, cultivate the understanding that transparency and ethical activities must be adhered to at all times. Keep the team members on the same page by reiterating the importance of maintaining transparency and being ethical in performance.
Some cultures and personality types are quieter and perceived as “introverted,” while others are more talkative and “extroverted.” These differences are both valuable as they can cater to different needs in a team. Some positions require more inner thinking, while others need more talking. Place the right people with the right communication style in the right position. However, when working in a team, a manager should be aware of those quiet ones and give them equal opportunity to speak up in meetings.
Acceptance and reluctance in giving and receiving feedback.
Some individuals are not used to giving and receiving feedback. They tend to stay within the confine of their comfort zone. It is the manager’s job to ensure that every team member accepts the necessary feedback and follow through with it. Start by opening yourself to receiving feedback from such individuals, ask them what they need you to know about. This way, mutual understanding can grow.
In conclusion, managers in modern multicultural workplaces should be aware of the various background and habitual differences. It can be quite challenging to maneuver, but once you have mastered the skills of managing a multicultural workplace, the rewards can be tremendous.
About Alder Koten
Alder Koten helps shape organizations through a combination of research, executive search, cultural & leadership assessment, and other talent advisory services. The firm was founded in 2011 and currently includes 6 partners and over 28 consultants in 4 cities. The firm’s headquarters are located in Houston and it has offices in Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City with partner firms in New York, Boston, Chicago, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and United Kingdom. We know where to find the executives you need and how to attract top talent to your organization. Our approach to executive search is based on a thorough understanding of the strategic, cultural, financial and operational issues our clients face. Our executive search engagements are targeted and focused on the specific requirements of the position including industry and functional experience, skills, competencies, cultural fit, and leadership style. Our process is rigorous. We take a disciplined and structured approach to identifying potential candidates that meet the position requirements including subject-matter, functional and regional expertise. We use our high-level professional networks, industry knowledge, and internal research resources to achieve results in every executive search engagement.This is a text block. Click the edit button to change this text.