I manage a multicultural team. Which challenges to expect? (and how to overcome them)
Congratulations! Managing a multicultural team makes you a double-winner.
Your team is more likely to be productive, innovative and creative than a monocultural one,
You are on an exciting journey which will make you grow as a manager and as a person.
However, you might also face some challenges due to cultural differences between the team members.
To name a few:
Communication styles may vary significantly. For example, some people might have a very direct communication style, expressing their needs in an open way, whereas others may only hint their needs and make allusions to the things that are going wrong
What is your communication style?
Decision-making expectations can differ: some team members may want you to take the lead on all the decisions and will wait for the directions, some others might be willing to be consulted before you take action
How do you make decisions?
Trust could be perceived by your team members as a matter of good relations between people for some, and as a result of well executed tasks for others
Which trust foundations do you believe in?
Open disagreeing might be a natural way of expressing a point of view or it might be seen as an extremely impolite and disrespectful attitude
How do you see disagreement?
3 ways to overcome the challenge of managing multicultural teams:
1. Adapt your management style
We naturally choose management styles which closely fit our personalities and the cultures which we are part of. However, to manage a multicultural team successfully it is important to adjust your habits to give individual team members what they need. Can you give more autonomy to some? Clearer instructions to others?
2. Enable a dialogue
One-to-one conversation or group discussion? Observe your team members to define the best communication setting. Can talking to your team become a ritual?
What can you do to better understand their hopes, fears, ambitions and challenges?
3. Define the rules
In multicultural teams, rules and processes should be simple and clearly defined. Let transparency be your grounding principle. What are the rules that you would like to establish today? How can you communicate these rules?