Tag: Diversity

How to Deal With Cultural Differences in Your Team

How to deal with cultural differences in your team

Cultural issues in the workplace have been a hot topic for many years. They are more than just demographics and cannot always be detected right away. Even though team members may be from the same office or a similar location, each one has their own unique culture and following. It is important to embrace these differences and acknowledge the cultural issues that may be present. This can help the team build successful relationships with each other and prove more productive in the long run.

Respect and Embrace Differences

Diversity among a group is always a good thing, but under the wrong impressions it can ruin any team. Whether the difference is a type of culture, political opinions, or simply a difference in background, all these factors can change how a person interacts with another person and what kind of view they have.  When team members are diverse, it can keep the team from thinking on one path and stop the ‘one track mind’. It opens teammates up to new ideas and points of view, which in turn can create new concepts for projects and assignments. Together, they can learn to not only respect their differences among each other, but embrace them to create a whole new work style.

Be Aware of Different Work Styles

Sometimes different work styles on a team can be a good thing because they allow each employee to think on their own and work within a design that works best for them. Other times, it can be a real source of trouble if not properly addressed. Some employees may prefer to work alone even though they are needed on a team project. One employee may be a procrastinator and wait until the last minute to complete their assignment. The key is to learn to be flexible with one another and adjust how you approach each other. No two people work the same way, so any team, especially a virtual one, will need time to adjust to one another and learn what makes the other team member work so hard. When we know how they function, we can work in sync with them without a hitch…most of the time!

Know Your Team Members Cultural Background

On a virtual team, it can be hard to get to know your teammates personally since you are so limited in communication and socialization. Even if the members meet during some sort of meeting or conference, it can be hard to acknowledge a person’s cultural background. Some companies have an employee fill out a personal profile that can be shared with other employees, which allows them to better know the person even though they are not in the same office. When we can better understand a person’s cultural background, we can better understand why they do some of the things they do and can make them feel more comfortable on your team.

Examples:

Provide an “All About Me” survey to gather information about employees

Some information can remain private if desired, such as religion or political views

Acknowledge cultural instances, such as holidays and rituals

Dealing with Stereotypes

Stereotypes can ruin any team relationship or bond. The sweeping generalization a stereotype can cause people to become confused or view people in a negative light, even if it was unprovoked. Knowledge and understanding are the only tools we can use to deal with stereotypes. Get to know your employees and encourage them to get to know their coworkers. Learn more about the employee as a whole person instead of what their cultural background may have been labeled as. Through observation and interaction, the chances of anyone creating or following stereotypes in the virtual team decreases and employees are able to focus on the task at hand, and not each other.

 

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Building a Diverse Social Learning Team

Building a Diverse Social Learing Team

There are always pros and cons to social learning. The diversity and differences that make a team strong will also cause friction in social settings. Effective teams will address these issues as they develop and manage to keep the communication civil. Knowing how to create a diverse and respectful  social learning team will make the experience more efficient.

Diversity Builds Knowledge

When creating social groups, it is important to make sure that they are diverse. Compiling a diverse team takes time. It is necessary to choose people with diverse cultures, skills, backgrounds, and strengths. These differences will make the team stronger. Only choosing like-minded people will weaken the team and stifle creativity. Diversity builds knowledge and challenges the team to grow. When choosing a diverse team, you need to focus on the skills that will benefit the team. For example, a  team could benefit from mixing people with academic understanding of a subject and others who have real world application. It is also beneficial to blend people from different levels within the same organization.

Social Interaction

Social settings and interactions require basic social skills. This may seem like common knowledge, but you will have to remind people to behave and assess their social skills. There are basic social skills that people need to master in order to make sure that the social interactions in the group go smoothly. Basic social skills include:

  • Listen to other people.
  • Express positive thoughts or feelings in a civil manner.
  • Express negative thoughts or feelings in a civil manner.
  • Make requests.
  • Appreciate people and thank them.

If anyone lacks these basic social skills, social interactions in the team will suffer. Social skills training can improve social interactions for people who need to improve their social skills.

People Are Different

Everyone is unique. This can be both beneficial and cause problems to team dynamics. The positive aspects include:

The cons of having a diverse group include:

  • Personality clashes
  • Competition for promotions
  • Competition for work

Acknowledging that there are cultural and personality differences between people and preparing for these differences will help create a functional learning team.

Dealing with Difficult People

In any social situation, you will have no choice but to deal with difficult people. People are difficult on different levels. Some may not be invested in the learning process and others will actively push back against the team dynamic.

People who passively resist social learning may refuse to participate in discussions or leave tasks incomplete. The best way to handle passive people is to address the reason behind their behavior. It is important not to push people too hard to participate. You should offer assistance as needed.

Some people aggressively resist social learning. They push back by causing trouble and trying to take over the team. Problems include verbal attacks and disruptive behavior. It is important not to take the attacks personally and to make sure that the person acting out is told that the behavior is not appropriate. If the individual become too aggressive, he or she may need to be removed from the team dynamic.

 

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