The world just seems to get smaller and smaller as more and more companies grow global. Different markets connect and unite while most of the startups sooner or later start dreaming about going international. Even more so, an increasing number of people travels in search of a job. All that combined makes multicultural teams as popular as they were never before. But how to overcome cultural differences as a team leader?
Recognise and respect diversity in your team
The first and most important step is to accept your team’s multicultural nature and all that comes with it. This kind of team brings in several benefits. For example, people coming from different background can better than others understand the needs of the customers from their respective cultures.
In the same time, the leader of a multicultural team must be aware of the challenges and difficulties they will have to deal with. They have to understand that a multicultural team is a construct like no other and as such, it requires a very specific approach and full awareness of the current team dynamics.
Forget about treating everyone the same
While everybody deserves equal respect and the same chances of growth, a manager of a multicultural team must understand that they cannot copy-paste their management patterns from one employee to another. In case of multicultural teams, many aspects come in play – not only different communication patterns or even different time zones, but also whole different understandings of entire ideas. To succeed a manager of such a team, you must understand that respecting everybody equally does not mean you will communicate with them in the same way or devote your time to each of them equally.
Include instead of dividing
People tend to group up with those they find similar. While this is a natural thing, you as a manager of a multicultural team must create a structure that includes instead of dividing.
You should not exclude some cultural patterns or behaviors that are important to some of the team members but include them instead. One of the ways to make everybody feel important and respected, is to encourage people to spend time together. Getting to know each other helps bring down the cultural barriers and clear up a lot of things that clutter the communication channels. Make sure your team spends time not only over the tasks they were assigned to, but also to work on their interpersonal relations over coffees and outside working hours.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Communication solves a lot of problems. It will always be the key to creating a successful team, no matter how multicultural it is.
However, when people come from different cultural backgrounds, they also carry their native communication patterns. For example, in some cultures, speaking directly and openly is welcome and encouraged. For others – it may come off as rough or even rude. Be sure to educate yourself on how these things work in the native cultures of your team members.
Remember that language barrier is also a big thing. Those of your team members which are not native speakers, may at times struggle with expressing their thoughts or understanding yours. As a manager, you should always make sure the ideas are well understood by each party.
Suffice to say that managing a remote team isn’t easy, but these tips will definitely help you. Discuss them with your team today and get the most out of your multicultural background!