Hiring tech talent from outside your local area is now easier than ever before and working with people from all over the world is increasingly becoming the norm. That and the fact that relocation between countries is also easier means the workplace landscape is changing.
Although more common, a diverse workforce made up of people from different countries and cultures does have its own set of challenges for management. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to effectively manage a multicultural team, let’s take a look at some of the benefits a more diverse team brings to your business.
The Benefits of a Multicultural Team
Making a conscious effort to increase diversity in your company is a very positive thing, especially for an international organization.
As a company’s demographic increases from local to global customers, increasing internal multiculturalism can help you succeed. Having international team members means you can have insight into those markets and deliver products or services that are culturally sensitive and inclusive.
It can also help you improve your company’s communication and marketing skills and attract international clientele. Not only that but having a culturally diverse team can boost creativity by bringing fresh ideas to the table and as a result, increase financial returns.
So, how can you ensure you reap the benefits of a multicultural team?
The first step to becoming more culturally sensitive is acknowledging that stereotypes exist and should be avoided. If you assume that a whole country or culture’s worth of people all think or act in exactly the same way, that’s where you get into dangerous territory.
Being aware of different cultures is still very important, but while approaching a new culture you should be open to learning new things about the person, instead of making grand assumptions on what the person is like based on where they are from.
It is true that certain cultures have well-known business differences, but instead of categorizing the way someone might work, communicate or interact based on their culture, try to have a conversation to see how the person works best.
Be Aware of Different Communication Styles
Different cultures are known to have very different styles of communication, so don’t be surprised if increasing in diversity might cause a little bit of friction at first. Some people might come from places where people are very direct and straight-forward, where other people might be more used to a more nuanced way of communicating.
Equally, some cultures might be used to using sarcasm in their humour, and others might interpret that as being very rude. It’s all about taking the time to get to know each other, and the more your team interacts and learns from each other, the better it will become.
Allow Settling in Time
If you have a new team member moving from another country to join your team, it’s important that you take extra care to welcome them and not to move too quickly. They will need time to adjust, not only to a new company and workplace but a whole new country, culture and life.
It could be a good idea to look into creating ‘relocation package’ to help them integrate and make the transition happen faster and more smoothly. You may also wish to consider assigning a mentor within your company to help your new employee feel like they have someone to turn to.
Give foreign employees support in finding a new social network can also be really helpful. Set up social events in and outside of the office so your staff can socialize in different settings and learn more about their new team and culture.
If you’re hiring a new team member from abroad, remember that they might be having a hard time adjusting and their work may not be 100% perfect immediately. In meetings, they might struggle with a language barrier which might slow their creativity and input into projects. Give them a chance to warm up to their new environment and give plenty of time to prepare and adjust to your new team.
Monitor Team Dynamics
As we’ve already mentioned, different cultures communicate and interact differently, which might cause some friction amongst team members. Be sure to monitor interactions to make sure there are no conflicts. Language barriers can sometimes cause issues as words or phrases can have different meanings and the misuse of intonations can make someone come across more hostile than they mean to.
Break Down Barriers with Social Events
Remember in school when you used to do ‘ice-breaker’ activities where you’d go around the room and tell everyone three ‘fun’ facts about yourself? We’re not suggesting you play schoolyard games! But it is proven that some team building and social activities can really help to break down cultural barriers and cultivate relationships. Having your team spend time together outside of the office doing something enjoyable, like a cooking course or visiting a museum together, can help to integrate your company and its team members no matter where they are from.
Adding a culturally diverse dynamic to a team can certainly add some challenges, but those challenges are nothing compared to the benefits that your company can reap from new, creative individuals joining your team from across the globe.