When managing multicultural teams, there are extra factors to consider to make projects work. Cultural challenges come in several ways. Here are a few tips to overcome them.
- Be clear about your expectations.
Habits differ on how to make decisions, how much analysis is required beforehand, who should take part in the negotiations, and how people communicate with their superiors. All these variations can lead to a lack of communication, a feeling of being disrespected, and eventually slow down the project’s progress. Therefore, the best way to avoid these issues is to be clear about your expectations. Explain how the decision process works in your team and how hierarchies interact.
- Adjust your communication style.
Westerners commonly use direct communication, whereas Non-Westerners usually prefer an indirect one. Not considering this can reduce information sharing and create interpersonal conflicts. You should be careful about such differences when pointing out issues. While a Westerner would prefer a direct warning message, this same message could appear as aggressive to a non-Westerner. Instead, use an indirect way to make a the latest understand.
- Make non-fluent team members feel confident about their contribution.
Some team members may struggle to speak the “common language” properly; Which could make it difficult for the team to recognize their expertise. Non-native speakers may become less motivated to contribute, or get anxious about how others perceive them. This is why you should make a point to present their competences as they are valued beyond their language fluency in order to make them comfortable and confident.
- Check in on the project progression and be a mediator if needed.
Even after setting some common rules, communication challenges can come up in multicultural teams. Having empathy for each of the team members and helping them resolve the problems is important to avoid escalating the conflict. If needed, structural changes should be made to reshape the team structure in a more effective way.
- Build up common identity.
Building a strong community spirit can help everyone feel integrated and fully part of the project. As team leader, this should be one of your priorities. This will help ensure that all work together as a performing team towards same goals.