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Tips for working in or leading multicultural teams?

  • 1.  Tips for working in or leading multicultural teams?

    Posted 04-14-2021 08:11 AM

    Nowadays, it's very common for us to be in a multicultural environment whether at the universities or companies. Obviously, there will be difficulties when working together given the cultural differences. Reducing the potential conflict within the team, improving communication, and promoting creativity can be challenging for team leader and every member. Do you have any tips for working in or leading multicultural teams? Any good/bad lessons you'd like to share?

    P.S: At our firm, we use GlobeSmart to compare work style between cultures which I find pretty useful when working with other colleagues and clients.

    GlobeSmart



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    Tung Nguyen, PhD
    Water Resources Engineer
    Sacramento, CA
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  • 2.  RE: Tips for working in or leading multicultural teams?

    Posted 04-15-2021 09:18 AM
    My staff is currently made up of several recent immigrants but I have had many pass through the office on a regular basis. Quite a few from Africa and the Middle East and I have had a couple from Mexico. All are exceptionally well educated and motivated so tend to move up the ladder within a few years. My background is multicultural so it is second nature in working with people of varying backgrounds. My wife is a first generation immigrant so I am familiar with some of the difficulties in understanding variations in dialect and cultures. I have learned to talk more clearly and try to lose my regional accent. Even within native Americans, there is a broad cultural difference which in some ways is growing even within the same region. This has to be addressed in the work place as well.

    Everyone on the team can benefit from learning to speak and even think more clearly. Some language is based on shared knowledge and so there is a lot of simplification of what is said. I make sure that my native-english speakers explain what they mean by "it" and "that". It's crazy to imagine but nearly all people learning EASL have a better formal understanding of the english language than native speakers. Foreign born may not understand regionalisms as much and need help with technical language so both groups need help to get to that median ground of communication. Not all office communication is going to be verbal so it also important to make sure everyone has a good handle on writing emails and reports. As part of my training materials for new staff I provide lists of technical abbreviations, terminology, and acronyms.

    Keeping cultural differences to a minimum can be a challenge but the team leader should know about those cultural issues. Not everyone celebrates Christmas or Easter, the same as Christians don't celebrate Ramadan or Hanukah. Keep religion out of the workplace in these situations or at least give equal time and understanding when people are fasting.

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    Yance Marti P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer IV
    City of Milwaukee
    Milwaukee WI
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  • 3.  RE: Tips for working in or leading multicultural teams?

    Posted 04-15-2021 04:31 PM
    This is so true, but what I found out in my internship is that they not just a team but they build relationships. It requires effort to be friended or knowing them, it takes time and you can start by just simply treating them, or have a lunch with them. They also surprise each others birthday in the office by giving cake or throw a little food trips inside the office. While the team leader I observed that she used to ask a favor to that person, which is a phsychological trick to make them trust and build relationships with them. They are approachable and ask questions like how they are doing just to let the person know that they are teams in that project.

    And from my experience, I just used to greet them even that was the last conversation I could say, I used to smile back and sometimes always prepared to be amazed with them. And about the bad experience, I tend to lead any group activities and sometimes they are not favor of some one who  always used to instruct them, they want to to be leader less or they should not feel that they are being lead, some attitudes will not favor to your idea, and I find ways to avoid it by just let them speak first before I speak. I don't know maybe you will find immature people who's always try to attack you but it was best to counter them with great compliments (also a psychological trick).

    It is best too to protect and respect each other beliefs for example when it comes to Muslims you cannot force them to something they believe it is wrong to attend such event. Team leaders or heads should be more approachable and provide chatting time with the teams before going home. And that's all what I observed mostly.


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    Llala Chrishaye Ocampo S.M.ASCE
    Student
    City of General Trias Cavite
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  • 4.  RE: Tips for working in or leading multicultural teams?

    Posted 04-29-2021 03:31 PM

    In the spirit of this conversation, please include the following:

     The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business Hardcover – Illustrated, May 27, 2014

    by Erin Meyer (Author)

    https://www.amazon.com/Culture-Map-Breaking-Invisible-Boundaries/dp/1610392507



    Stay Healthy!

    Cheers,
    Bill



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    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
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