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Understanding and Managing Cultural Differences

Managing people from different countries, where attitudes, careers, families and work-life integration might vary widely, can be one of the biggest challenges in the evolving workforce. The effective management of your team can be greatly increased by your understanding of and ability to manage cultural differences.

Finding the best strategies to manage these differences can be accomplished by researching the challenges and best practices as well as working closely with your managers and speaking with your employees to better understand any concerns they may have.

Why is it important to understand cultural differences?

Managing a diverse workforce requires understanding the effects of cultural diversity. Employers can learn about the motivations behind an employee’s habits and actions at work by learning more about their cultural background.

Knowing the different ways that culture affects how individuals behave at work will help you to resolve disagreements and motivate each employee appropriately. By supporting their culture and training others on how to conduct themselves professionally at work and collaborate effectively, you will make them feel more appreciated and an important part of the team. 

The following strategies can be used to manage cultural differences and strengthen your team:

  1. Learn what it means to be “culturally sensitive.”

Look at ways to promote communication about what works for your employees rather than forcing them to adopt unfamiliar or uncomfortable cultural norms.

  1. Have a broad understanding of different work ethics

For example, in the Philippines, many employees work 6 days a week.  In the UK, most only work 5 days a week.  The variations in how people go about their days can be incredibly different across cultures. The result? A strong work ethic can seem very different in one culture than it does in another.

  1. Create a calendar of holidays and cultural events

It’s critical to be aware of when significant holidays or cultural events may have an impact on your team’s ability to complete tasks on time.  This can result in a complex patchwork of schedules to manage, but it’s important to do so in order to create a cohesive, diverse staff and handle cultural differences.

  1. Celebrate cultural diversity

Have fun with the idea of utilising cultural differences to help your team get to know one another better and learn more about each other’s cultures and customs.  A simple starting point would be to get everyone in your team to share how they spend their typical day, what they usually eat for breakfast, what they like to do in their free time etc.  You can even ask what they like to do at a works party (e.g. Christmas party).  In the UK, most company Christmas parties involve beer, wine, food, mingling and usually dancing.  In the Philippines, there would be food, drinks, raffles and parlor games.       

Consider establishing a remote work employee resource group.  This is an internal association of team members who can collaborate, generate ideas, and aid in transforming the diverse workforce of your business into a powerful force for success.

  1. Highlight the group’s common goal

You will be pleasantly surprised to see how much your team members have in common even as you struggle to manage a geographically dispersed workplace and comprehend the varied cultural aspects of your staff. Your chances of success in managing cultural differences will increase the more you can identify ways to concentrate on shared values, goals, and the mission of your global team.

It can be difficult but very rewarding to lead a team with people from various cultural backgrounds. Make an effort to create a welcoming environment for your team members.

Since developing the required set of talents requires a lot of effort, please use this blog as your reference to help you support and get the most from your team. We believe these pointers will make it easier for you to lead a diverse team.

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