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Managing Multicultural Teams

Best practices for getting the most from employees around the globe.

By The Editors

As organisations expand their global footprints, CIPD’s new report Managing Multicultural Teams provides insight into the benefits and challenges of a culturally diverse team. Workers from different countries and cultures bring new ideas, creativity, and innovation, but organisations should be aware of varying work preferences. The report recommends that leaders show cultural intelligence and be empathetic to the values and experiences of others.

The report advises the following best practices to foster patience and openness in leaders.

  • Be sensitive to employees’ demographic differences, values, attitudes, and experiences.
  • Encourage employees to express different perspectives to enhance team decision-making.
  • Think flexibly about how to manage different individuals, making small changes that cater to individual needs.
  • Communicate in order to develop relationships, trust, and team cohesion. Be aware of language barriers and use active listening to better understand cultural nuances and communication styles.

Communication challenges are bound to arise. The report recommends a few approaches to overcome them.

  • Raise awareness of language barriers in team meetings to ensure that everyone understands instructions and tasks.
  • Have a conversation with team members if they change languages.
  • Listen attentively for different cultural nuances of communication from different team members. Keeping an ear out for these will allow organisations to monitor staff contributions more closely and encourage active discussion from all team members.

Remote work has increased due to the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Successful long-term remote work will rely heavily on managers. The report shares a few best practices.

  • With remote workers, maintain regular contact through technology: Hangouts or video calls are key to reducing the risk of isolation.
  • Encourage the use of rich media to allow staff to share feedback and their perspectives and resolve differences quickly.
  • When working across time zones, build awareness of the best time intervals for team members to meet. Allow flexible working hours to promote collaboration.
  • Understand communication preferences of team members.
  • Regularly bring the team together for catch-ups and hangouts for work meetings and project updates as well as social sessions.

Multicultural teams are becoming increasingly common in global organisations. The benefits can be vast if managed with care and thought.

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