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Managing Multicultural Teams in an Interconnected World

AK_Blog_07_Managing local teams in an interconnected world_EN2

In this era of globalization, businesses are becoming increasingly international. They are faced with the challenge of integrating multicultural practices, all while preserving the distinct identity of each team.

Can your group rise to the challenge of creating a collaborative team that embraces the cultural differences inherent in an interconnected world?

International Teams in Business: There’s a lot at Stake

Due to increased globalization, project managers are often responsible for coordinating teams scattered throughout the world.

Conscientious managers will want to establish a climate of trust and cooperation across a variety of cultural practices:

Language:

The use of different languages can be an obstacle to seamless and open communication among teams working on the same project. Even if it’s decided to use one common language (most often English), some employees could find themselves at a disadvantage if they’re not native speakers. The goal is to ensure that all team members truly understand each other.

Culture:

Each country has its own lifestyle, socio-cultural references and practices. These differences can make smooth communication difficult. The key is to effectively manage these different approaches.

Concepts of Work:

The concept of work is not necessarily understood in the same way throughout our multicultural world. For example, Germans measure success by efficient time management; people in India prefer working in teams; Americans like getting straight to the point. The challenge is to harmoniously merge different practices without favoring one over another.

Distance:

Coping with different time zones and geographic locations are some of the biggest challenges to a multicultural team whose members often only know each other through telecommunications channels. The objective is to create teams of cohesive cross-border co-workers.

Technical Tools:

An international team requires effective communication tools if there is to be fluid and intelligent collaboration. It is important to choose the right tools for the job.

Creating unity from diversity is the challenge facing managers. They need to understand multiculturalism if they are going to successfully bring their projects to fruition.


Three Golden Rules for the Global Manager

1. Embrace the Differences

The biggest risk to an international project is the imposition of a single set of competencies and processes. In actual fact, a project is often enhanced by the richness and innovation resulting from the diversity of proven, yet varied, competencies.
Managers should make the effort to learn about each specific culture represented in their teams. For example, when sending emails, they need to choose the right tone and the right words for each individual or, at the very least, not automatically superimpose their own cultural norms onto the communication.

This requires a firm grasp of each culture. Managers need to observe, analyze, be curious and, above all, remain open-minded.

2. Effective Communication

Managers of multicultural teams must set very clear expectations while also encouraging a free exchange of ideas within their teams. Regular communications will encourage a consistent vision, goals, and methods, and ensure that all employees are on the same page. At the same time, managers should know how to truly listen, be available, and be willing to accept and address input from team members.

3. Choosing the Right Tools

It is not possible to have a common culture or knowledge without common tools. Remote collaborative solutions are essential when working with a global team. Tools must be selected to meet the needs of the project. They should save time, ensure common access to shared resources, facilitate planning and organization, allow for simultaneous work in real time and more. Moreover, they should be tailored to the task at hand, such as cloud computing for storage and sharing, unified communications for daily exchanges, and mobile terminals for employees on the road. Choosing the right solutions requires advance strategic planning.

>> Discover Arkakin’s remote collaboration solutions

About the author

We are made up of marketers, sales representatives, administrators, product and project managers, developers, operational personnel and customer service agents all passionate about collaboration. Communication is at the heart of what we do, and we are continually in search of better, faster, more efficient and cutting-edge ways to connect people across geographic borders. We believe that progress emerges from people's desire to share and that everyone works better when they're having fun!

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