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Dealing with Multicultural Teams Essay

Athens University of Economics and Business ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR ‘Dealing with multicultural teams’ By: Ilona Zimna Poznan School of Banking Student no. 470005 XXIst century is an age of globalization and internationalization, so companies who want to develop itselves and improve its performance – have to open for new global markets. This idea is inherently connected with managing multicultural teams. In my work I will try to concentrate on challenges that a multinational team face and which strategies are proper to deal with them.

Thereby I will struggle to find out how to successfully manage people who come from different countries and other cultural backgrounds. In multicultural teams, diversity may create negative dynamics such stereotyping, ethnocentrism or cultural clashes. In traditional, assimilationist-oriented organizations, cultural differences between majority and minority group members create barriers to full participation of minority members. Leaders cannot ignore diversity, because it may detract from performance. Moreover, employee who does not feel enough comfortable because of it in the work place – will not be effective.

Homogeneous groups often outperform culturally diverse groups, especially when there is a serious communication problem. Heterogeneous work teams often under-perform homogeneous teams because they do not allow each member to make a special contribution to the work effort[1]. Cross-cultural training is necessary to enable culturally diverse groups to live up to their potential and overcome communication difficulties[2]. According to research, differing styles of communication is just one of four main categories that can create barriers to a team’s ultimate success. 3] The author of an article ‘Managing Multicultural Teams’ names: problems with proper pronunciation such different accents and hard fluency, conflicting norms for decision making and differing attitudes toward hierarchy and authority. For instance Perkins2 proves that high structured teams are preferred by cultures which view relationship in term of hierarchy, cultures that prefer relationship in term of group – appreciate teamwork and lastly people that feel individual, want to work in an informal teams feeling comfortable working voluntary as well.

So on, managers should have in mind that there are some nations which thought to be more likely working in groups such Indonesian and Chinese and preferring to work individually as Americans or French. Such division has being named as individualism and collectivism. This can be used to predict the effectiveness of management practice. For example performance of Americans working in groups will be lower than working individually in turn Chinese will be more effective working in group than working alone.

Manager of multicultural team may be challenged by variety of ethinc background that posses different norms and values, that the specific nations appreciate. It is not obvious that the level of satisfaction with work will be the same for every workforce in the same pose. So on, managers should choose a capable way of motivation by concentrating on diversity, trying to understand employees’ needs – as a humans and as a nation as well. Problem that is often faced, especially between Western and non-Western countries, is direct and indirect communication. This issue is characteristic betwixt Americans and Japan people.

It is thought that negotiations with Japan are so difficult, because they use indirect communication, their ‘yes’ does not always mean agreement you have to surmise what do they think. On the other hand Japan will understand American, because they use very direct communication – they get crucial information about the other party’s preferences and priorities by asking straight questions. This issue of examples of challenges which multicultural team may occur is very important, because difference between direct and indirect communication may create a serious problem.

Multicultural challenges are manageable, so to work effectively with people from different countries and background – teams such this should be properly directed by a managers. What is the best strategy to deal with it? Cox T. H. argues that managers can control conflict when they reconcile competing goals, distribute power in a representative manner, affirm the identity of minority group members, and act when resources are plentiful and cultural differences are lower or well understood[4].

On the other hand, research carried out some companies that deal with mix-cultural teams suggest that the most effective managers have chosen one of four ways3: ‘adaptation (acknowledging cultural gaps openly and working around them), structural intervention (changing the shape or makeup of the team), managerial intervention (setting norms early or bringing in a higher-level manager), and exit (removing a team member when other options have failed)’.

There are a lot strategies how to deal with cultural-challenges, but choosing the proper one depends on some particular situations. Generally, managers should be aware that they play important role in making diversity a success. So they must receive training to address stereotypes and real cultural differences as well as organizational barriers that interfere with the full contribution of all employees. Training is not all, leader is expected to create atmosphere of understanding for his/her multicultural employees.

They should be aware of all advantages brought by working in diversity, so should respect each other without account on minority/majority, genre or belief. Moreover diversity should be a part of organization’s strategy, that means – all business targets are depended on diversity ones. Diversity should be an important part of external outreach programs that active the organization in social issues and community. As mentioned before – good communication is very significant part of dealing with multicultural teams.

Manager should consider it and ensure open avenues for employees to communicate new input/feedback and ideas. If there is problem caused by misunderstanding because of diversity of languages – leader should take care on it and mobilize people to take some courses on the same language for everyone by motivating them by additional sum to their salary when they achieve some level of language knowledge (for instance). To sum up, I will use words of Jamieson, D. & O’Mara, J. amely to deal successfully with multicultural team, good leader need to ‘unlearn practices rooted in an old mind set, change the ways organizations operate, shift organizational culture, revamp policies, create new structures, and redesign human resource systems. ’ References 1) Sheridan, J. H. (1994). ‘Dividends from Diversity’. Industry Week. 243(17), 23-26. 2) Perkins, A. G. (1993). ‘Diversity’. Harvard Business Review. 71(5), 14. 3) Brett, J. (2006). ‘Managing Multicultural Teams’. Harvard Business Review. Online 4) Cox, T. H. (1993). Cultural Diversity in Organizations:Theory, Research & Practise’ San Francisco: Berrett- Koehler. 5) Jamieson, D. & O’Mara, J. (1991). ‘Managing Workforce 2000: Gaining the Diversity Advantage’. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ———————– [1] Sheridan, J. H. (1994). ‘Dividends from Diversity’. Industry Week. 243(17), 23-26. [2] Perkins, A. G. (1993). ‘Diversity’. Harvard Business Review. 71(5), 14. [3] Brett, J. (2006). ‘Managing Multicultural Teams’. Harvard Business Review. online [4] Cox, T. H. (1993). ‘Cultural Diversity in Organizations: Theory, Research & Practice’. San Francisco: Berrett- Koehler.

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