Covid taught quite a few companies some difficult lessons, especially internationally. Around the world businesses had to make quick decisions or they lost a lot of money, and often customers as well.
During that time, many companies required a lot of meetings and planning with employees, many of whom were from different countries. They had to make clear choices and carry out difficult tasks in a short period of time. This included working with cross-cultural teams who had different responsibilities. Managing cross-cultural teams with employees is particularly tough from many cultures, traditions, countries, languages, and work ethics.
What Exactly are Cross-Cultural Teams?
Cross-cultural teams consist of individuals from various cultures who have distinct life experiences. Conflicts and frustration can be easily prevented once you obtain a fast knowledge of the individuals in a team if companies fail to consider the underlying cross-cultural differences within a group.
The 88.3% of people who took part in the research stated that interacting with individuals from a different cultural background made them feel good.
Communication styles and individual frames of reference, among other things, might explain the differences. Members in certain countries are ready to work longer than stipulated work hours, even if they do so from home. On the other hand, workers in different nations may not work beyond the stated hours except in the case of an emergency, and their mobile phones are switched off when they leave.
The communicating pattern of each team member is another crucial distinction in a cross-cultural group. Some team members loudly express their raw sentiments and ideas, whereas those from authoritarian cultures tend to consider carefully before speaking up. Let us discuss the challenges of managing cross-cultural project teams.
The Challenges of Managing a Cross-Cultural Team
According to statistics, culturally diverse teams outperform non-diverse ones by 35%. If you have a cross-cultural team and guide it correctly, you may see increased efficiency.
Teams have become standard practice in planning, strategizing, and executing across businesses, yet team management is still in its early stages. Furthermore, when you let in an additional aspect of diversity, you encounter a variety of issues.
The following are the top challenges in leading a cross-cultural team from across the world:
Expression and Communication
Cross-cultural teams need to communicate so that everyone is on the same page, which entails learning how to balance the importance of context with simplicity. Everyone may understand English well and speak the same language, but specific phrases or colloquialisms might be misunderstood.
Communication conflicts are frequently visible in virtual organizations that do not have face-to-face interaction. For example, it might be a foreign virtual team or local virtual teams that need to work together and complete a task. In any case, both groups must make their email and phone conversations as clear as possible to avert any confusion.
Everyone should be in sync to stay on top of data and process flows. There should be no need for manual coordination of disparate sources of information.
To collaborate and finish their tasks, each team member must have access to the proper resources at the appropriate moment.
Communication is challenging with virtual cross-cultural teams since it’s challenging to maintain a consistent level of interaction. Communicating effectively and quickly to share resources and access them promptly is difficult.
The culture primarily determines every employee’s work style. Some cultures prioritize individual contributions and encourage personal viewpoints. Some cultures are more authoritarian, with leaders determining the course of action and workers executing it.
The amount of people we work with is one thing, but the kinds of personalities among them are pretty different. It also applies to individuals with distinct personalities. Individualistic team members tend to emerge as aggressive while the not-so-individualistic ones merge into the group and contribute less because of their distinctive styles. Despite the differences in job approach, it’s critical to sort and optimize each team member’s performance style.
There’s a good chance that a portion or group of the team shares the same cultural heritage. They may try to take control of the situation and persuade everyone on the team to go their way. As a result, it might lead to needless bitterness and an unpleasant working environment for other team members.
In a cross-cultural team, group dynamics may be a significant issue. It might result in divisive political maneuvering and conflicts within the group.
Usually, businesses have a single-threaded motivation and reward system that is mainly determined by the company’s norms and values. It does not consider the varied motivational elements of a cross-cultural team.
Employees’ reasons for working are diverse, depending on their individual goals and priorities. Tangible or intangible incentives such as increased earnings, bonuses, incentives, career advancement, and recognition are some of the tangible motivators. On the other hand, there are intangibles like praise, job enjoyment, encouragement that motivate people.
It’s critical to comprehend what motivates each person to lead them toward accomplishment effectively. The team members may be less enthusiastic and engaged at work if there is no apparent incentive.
Cross-cultural teams might present difficulties, but they may be handled with care and respect for other cultures. You need a framework that makes it easier to distinguish individual differences and use them to your team’s advantage.
It takes a clear insight and acceptance of cultural distinctions to run a cross-cultural team most of the time. Having a cross-cultural team is the most excellent chance to learn about various backgrounds, develop new ideas, and succeed. It’s time to think of cross-cultural teams as an asset rather than a liability!
Contributed by James Raussen, Managing Director of SEA Solutions, he can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org