A good manager has to have the key skills required to manage teams in every country where the company operates in. With the globalised industry expanding, to take advantage of cost-effective technical expertise and other benefits that may not be present in the home location, cross cultural team management is more vital than ever before. Whether you’re sitting in a foreign office or holding a meeting via video chat, you need to understand, respect, and integrate each culture and its people into your system.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Focus on daily communication:
Communication is the major chunk of effective team management. When you’re interacting with individuals from a culture that isn’t your own, you need to keep cultural norms and habits in mind. For example, many eastern cultures are fairly rigid regarding the hierarchies in the office. That means that they won’t be used to open discussions where subordinates speak their minds too. And bringing up certain topics may be a taboo because good workers aren’t expected to speak about or report such things. Some managers think that merely asking everybody to speak up does the job, but it doesn’t. Changing beliefs and long-term patterns is never easy. So take the time out to encourage each person in the team to talk to you on a one-on-one basis too. Work out a process that can give you accurate information about how the project is going without seeming like you are being insensitive to their ways. At NBS, you’ll get expert training on this in the comprehensive Leading People Globally module. Also take a look at the programme structure to understand how you can become a well-rounded MBA graduate:
- Build an awareness of the differences:
Cultural differences stand out even as you travel from one state of a country to another. Like in India where you have hundreds of languages and enough cuisines to make you wonder if you have entered a new country each time you visit a new state. Difference should never be seen as a detractor because it can actually bring more skills and knowledge to the table. Successful managers do their research and don’t just notice the differences and ignore them. Building trust is impossible without understanding. As you continue to identify differences in the way things are said, done or perceived, find out where the differences are coming from. For instance, is something that they’re doing stemming from a religious belief? In fact, during the Nanyang MBA programme, you will get a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture.
- Keep your language positive:
Always keep negatives out of your conversations. That includes the use of negative language, negative tone, and negative body language. So you and other team members who are new to the culture will not frown and raise eyebrows or roll their eyes if you don’t understand or agree with a point. Also avoid saying ‘I disagree’ or ‘You can’t be serious?’ Instead, you can say ‘I do not quite understand what you are saying’ or ‘Can you please elaborate this for us?’ If there is a language barrier and you work heavily with that team, why not attempt to learn the language? Ideas and communication might flow better then.
Working with teams from different cultural backgrounds is challenging. But good management can prevent the risks that can occur from a lack of understanding and contrasting values and attitudes since all of these factors affect how work is done.
Be flexible. Be ready to learn!