In this article, let us examine the multicultural team challenges? And how to manage them for successful outcomes?
International teams are part of corporations and organizations in today’s business world. A culturally diverse team can provide tremendous benefits. Such as market knowledge and culturally sensitive customer service.
Of course, it’s when everything is running smoothly.
Unfortunately, cultural differences within teams can hinder effective collaboration. Cultural and linguistic difficulties are inextricably linked to benefits.
So, how can a manager resolve or even prevent multicultural team challenges?
7 Multicultural Team Challenges And Their Solutions
There are more multicultural teams in the business world of the globalization of both the corporate sector. However, research shows that multicultural teams (MCTs) have more conflicts than homogeneous teams.
To solve a problem, you must first understand the challenges. Many challenges arise in multicultural teams. Not just East vs. West, but also within and between Asian cultures.
1. Language Limitation
The words we use and how we speak are tools we use to express our opinions, hopes, and visions. We are all tied to our language. This is why visiting a foreign country where the natives speak a different language can be challenging.
Consider managing a multicultural team in which many members talk a different language. You must not only ensure that they understand company procedures and policies. But, you must also ensure that everyone has an effective way to communicate with one another.
It would be an understatement that this task is challenging.
Simultaneously, the office’s primary language is possibly the second or third language of some employees. They have a hard time understanding colloquialisms because of this.
Furthermore, they may unintentionally misinterpret slang and jokes. Because they interpret them in a very literal context. Not to mention those team members who are not fluent in the office’s language may feel less inclined to share their opinions.
Find a way to convey your messages in a way that everyone understands. Your teams can benefit from the addition of multilingual translators.
Use functional translation software and apps as well. You can also provide ongoing language classes in the primary language of the company.
The goal is to make every team member feel included and valued. Also, try not to show favoritism toward team members who are fluent in our native language.
Everyone, regardless of language, should have the impression that they are being treated fairly.
2. Multicultural Team Challenges – Cultural Differences
People from Eastern cultures have distinct cultures than from Western cultures. A Western manager may appear too assertive, loud, or direct to a team member from other Asian nations. Requests are more politely and indirectly made in Asian countries.
An employee from Western culture may be more likely to speak up when something looks wrong. As opposed to someone from an Eastern culture, who may never question the boss, even if they are wrong.
These cultural differences can confuse. And, in the worst-case scenario, a lack of unity among team members.
In contrast, Americans may appear more informal and casual in their employee-manager relationships. But, someone from Japan would prefer more formal constructs.
Take the time to learn about your team members’ different cultural norms. Understand how they perceive assertiveness and communicate effectively?
Encourage your employees to learn about the cultures of their coworkers as well.
3. Multicultural Team Challenges – Technical Difficulties
U.S. Employees are frequently accustomed to using the best-known technological offerings. They would require little training in this area.
An employee from a rural location may not be as good at working with popular American technology and software.
Similarly, it is commonly assumed that a Western team member is well-versed in the Google search engine. It may be utterly foreign to someone from China, where the Baidu search engine reigns supreme.
Inquire about which technologies they are familiar with? And which would benefit from additional training?
Then, for those who require it, provide classes or an online training course. Consequently, it’d ensure everyone on the team is up-to-speed and on the same page.
4. Multicultural Team Challenges – Decision-Making
Decision-making styles differ across cultures. Managers in the United States make decisions quickly. In contrast, managers in other cultures take their time to conduct careful research and gather information.
And regularly consult team members to ensure that the decision is unanimously reached.
Furthermore, in some cultures, the decisions of managers are never questioned. Nor are they asked by employees, even when they are incorrect.
So, how do you make decisions in a multicultural setting to avoid conflicts?
Different employees will have varying expectations. Ensure that every member of your multicultural team understands your decision-making process.
Learn about the differences between your team members. Then decide how to put the decisions into action.
Next, find it essential to speak with each employee individually. Therefore, it’d determine how they feel about your decision-making process and leadership style.
5. Communication Styles: Aggression And Tone
Communication styles differ across cultures. Western cultures tend to speak directly. In contrast, many other cultures believe that being indirect is more polite.
Members who are not fluent in the dominant language of the team may struggle to communicate.
If teammates perceive a gap as a violation of their cultures’ communication norms, their relationships can suffer.
You can’t change your style overnight. Remember that speaking with a German vs. a Peruvian team member may need a different approach.
6. The Difficulty Of Motivating A Multicultural Team
Different cultures have different perspectives on motivation. What motivates you may be de-motivating to someone from another culture.
Trying to impose a universal motivation and reward system based on your company’s culture may backfire. Resulting in a decrease in employee satisfaction and efficiency.
Similarly, some people perform much better when they are left to figure out how to get the job done independently. However, people from other cultures may find themselves groping in the dark. Unless the manager defines a clear roadmap for them on how to do their job.
Speak with people from various cultures individually. You’ll learn what motivates them? And how much manager intervention is acceptable to them?
Come to an agreement with them on the expected outcomes. If their ideas are implemented, then observe the impact.
7. Multicultural Team Challenges – Avoid Stereotypes
When working in a multicultural team, use great care when using language. The line between being aware of cultural differences and making assumptions is thin. Regarding stereotype-based attitudes among your employees.
The fact that your colleague is from Japan or France does not dictate every decision your employees make. And relying on this logic will likely offend them. Everyone is an autonomous individual, regardless of their cultural upbringing.
So treat your coworkers in such manners.
To avoid stereotypes, spend time getting to know each team member. Feel free to encourage your coworkers to do the same.
It would help if you constantly remind yourself:
– Each team member has a distinct approach to working and communicating with others.
– Everyone is unique and has different preferences.
– Culture influences but does not dictate behavior.
Last Words – Challenges Of International Teams:
It is not for the faint of heart to manage multicultural teams. Learning, diligence, and diplomacy are all required.
If you want to be understood, first seek to understand, as the old saying goes.
If the team is dysfunctional, it can become a liability to the organization. To avoid any obstacle, it’s critical to take action on time. And give the multicultural team the authority they need to choose the most effective approach.
Team building enables the team to face its natural difficulties without feeling alone. And it helps to bridge cultural divides by providing objective, external support.
A well-executed team-building project can get a group of people to work effectively as a team.
Carefully evaluate functions that aren’t critical to your business. Such as Multilingual customer service. They understand how to bridge cultural gaps. Also, they get everyone on the team to work toward the same goals, despite opposing viewpoints.
We hope that these directions will assist you in effectively managing your multicultural team.