A multicultural team is a workforce in an organization containing different individuals with different diverse cultures. Some of the differences in multicultural teams include differences in age, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientations (Hibbert & Hibbert, 2014). Research has indicated a wide diversity of the U.S. population and a probability of increasing diversity in the future. Due to this, organizations need to adopt multicultural teams in their systems since most employees of an organization are individuals from different backgrounds (Hibbert & Hibbert, 2014). Organizations can use diversity to bring positive outcomes and increased productivity as diversity will bring different individuals with diverse ideas and opinions, which can be used positively to benefit the organization (Hibbert & Hibbert, 2014).
The market is also changing and becoming more diverse and integrating diverse workforce to an organization can help in addressing the changing demands of the market (Hibbert & Hibbert, 2014). Managers and leaders of organizations can be educated on the benefits of accommodating multicultural teams and a diverse workforce. They can also be taught on how to address challenges related to multicultural differences, which may include communication and relationships problems (Hibbert & Hibbert, 2014). Culture can be learned and shared and organizations should take advantage to benefit from positive cultural behaviors instead of focusing on the negative differences.
Dimensions of a Multicultural Team
The common language used in the United States is English and most multicultural teams contain most a large percentage of employees who use the English language (Schellwies, 2015). The work force of most organizations in the United States has other employees who are immigrants to the United States using different languages (Schellwies, 2015). Communication is important in-group dynamics and although different cultures have different types of communication styles, a good understanding should be developed to enable a simple and clear communication that can be clearly understood by the different members of the team. No employees should be discriminated based on their native languages and there should be equality of all employees (Schellwies, 2015).
Time is a valuable asset for organizations and should be used efficiently to bring benefit to the organization (Schellwies, 2015). Different individuals use the aspect of time differently. Time value can be seen through reliability and respect of time (Schellwies, 2015). This will influence the performance of activities and meeting of deadlines by individuals. Some individuals may use the concept of time differently, which may a sign of disrespect to others. The management of time will affect an organization’s goals and objectives (Schellwies, 2015).
Relationships/ different attitudes in hierarchy
This involves relationships between individuals on the same job level and powerful individuals in the organization. Different individuals handle relationships based on their culture and experiences (Thomas ; Peterson, 2014). Team members should be willing to learn different cultures to enable better relation and enable the organization achieve its set objectives. Due to the globalization of the market, which will influence an organization, all employees of an organization should adapt to other cross cultures (Thomas ; Peterson, 2014). Organizations dealing with a diverse market or different suppliers must learn the other party’s culture, which will enable a good relationship between the parties involved. This may include international suppliers or international customers. Global relationships involve relationships with diverse cultures and result to new ways of running operations in organizations (Thomas & Peterson, 2014).
Managing multicultural teams requires special leadership skills, which involve leaders educating themselves on the different cultures especially for international organizations that engage different individuals from different geographical cultures (Thomas & Peterson, 2014). International organizations operate in different regions different from their culture and team leaders should adjust to different cultures. Learning and understanding different cultures is important for leaders and organizations in achieving organizational goals and objectives. Team members should be willing to learn different cultures to enable better relation and enable the organization to achieve its set objectives (Thomas & Peterson, 2014).
Different cultures have different opinions and decisions, which may be different to other cultures. The decision making process is also different in different cultures (Benet-Marti?nez & Hong, 2014). Varying aspects of the decision making process include the time taken to make a decision, factors influencing the decision making process, and handling of conflicts during the decision making process. Organization’s team leaders should be good moderators between other members during the decision making process and should not be bias (Benet-Marti?nez ; Hong, 2014). Team conflicts should be solved by considering opinions from all the parties involved.
Discrimination Laws and Their Impact on Managing a Multicultural Team
Managing multicultural teams can be a challenge to leaders but with the benefits that they bring to an organization, it is necessary that leaders are educated on management skills and discrimination laws (Schellwies, 2015). Discrimination laws are enacted to safeguard employees against discrimination that may be based on race, age, disability, and different cultural backgrounds (Schellwies, 2015). These laws ensure that individuals are treated equally in work settings and in educational platforms. Organizations should learn and understand discrimination laws and their impact to multicultural teams. Understanding discrimination laws will help members of multicultural teams to respect the rights of different members from other cultures and avoid any discriminatory behaviors. Some of the discriminatory laws include overcompensation of specific employees, giving special opportunities to certain individuals, and unequal treatment of employees (Schellwies, 2015).
Affirmative Action Programs and Their Impact on Managing a Multi-Cultural Team
Affirmative action programs include policies and practices implemented by organizations to ensure that employees of different backgrounds are not discriminated and all employees of a multicultural team are treated equally and all have equal opportunities (Benet-Marti?nez ; Hong, 2014). Affirmative action also involves organizations having accommodative structures and equal organizational standards to cater for the diverse population and multicultural teams in the organization. This can be achieved by changing the recruitment process to accommodate the diverse cultures in the United States (Benet-Marti?nez ; Hong, 2014). The process of job advertisement should be open to everyone as long as he/she is qualified for the job position. Job advertisements can be done through people with disabilities associations and other associations of different cultural origins. Organizations should also educate all members on the importance of diversity in job settings and encourage other members to accommodate new staff and treat them equally (Benet-Marti?nez ; Hong, 2014).
Affirmative action programs will result to a diverse work environment, which has productivity benefits to the organization and the employees as well (Benet-Marti?nez ; Hong, 2014). Organizations that implement affirmative action programs have an advantage in solving the diverse challenges in organizations where different members can share different ideas and opinions based on their diverse backgrounds, which can enable the organization make an informed decision to address the challenge (Benet-Marti?nez ; Hong, 2014). In addition, the diverse multicultural team can help the organization in addressing the increasing diversity in the market. Affirmative action programs in an organization indicate the organization’s commitment to embrace equality in its operations and availability of equal opportunities to everyone. The team leaders will also implement this practice down the organization’s structures and members of the multi cultural teams will embrace the aspect of equality. This will be an advantage to the organization work environment in the reduction of work related conflicts (Benet-Marti?nez ; Hong, 2014).
Building an Inclusive Culture within the Team
Building an inclusive culture within the team means an organization has fully incorporated diverse employees in its system and has embraced different uniqueness of individuals (Salas, Rico, ; Passmore, 2017). An inclusive culture will benefit an organization in harnessing the advantages of having diverse cultural perspectives in employees. Diverse individuals bring diverse talents and ideas in an organization, which is important for any company due to the changing diversity in the market (Salas, Rico, ; Passmore, 2017). Building an inclusive culture within the team indicates that the organization acknowledges the diverse cultures and focuses on the benefits of the diverse cultures instead of the differences and negative aspects of certain cultures (Salas, Rico, ; Passmore, 2017). When organizations embrace diversity by building an inclusive culture within the team, other members of the organization will also be encouraged to embrace diversity, which will create equality in the work environment and strengthen the multicultural teams (Salas, Rico, ; Passmore, 2017).
An inclusive culture can be integrated in the different management levels of organizations, which will help to transform and strengthen the whole organization (Salas, Rico, ; Passmore, 2017). This will affect the organization positively and will lead to success of the organizations and satisfaction of its employees. Building an inclusive culture within the team will also encourage and motivate employees, which will increase productivity (Salas, Rico, ; Passmore, 2017). Employees will feel free to socialize with the other members and support each other, which will result to employees performing their duties and responsibilities efficiently. Organizations can build an inclusive culture within the team by having representatives of the different cultures in the organization and through the provision of equal opportunities to everyone. This will build a good reputation of the organization, which will encourage more individuals to join the organization (Salas, Rico, ; Passmore, 2017).
Challenges of Managing a Multicultural Team
Multicultural teams consist of different individuals with different forms of communication. Different individuals also perceive different modes of communication differently and use different communication languages (Salas, Rico, ; Passmore, 2017). Multicultural leaders should create a standard mode of communication, which is equal to everyone. Communication challenges can lead to relationship problems between team members (Salas, Rico, ; Passmore, 2017). Immigrants of the United States may have a problem being fluent in the native English language which is commonly used in the United States and misinterpretations may occur which may influence the competence of the members (Salas, Rico, ; Passmore, 2017). Lack of fluency in language can also be a barrier to non-native individuals in expressing their knowledge and skills and this may limit their participation in organizational meetings and forums and utilizing their skills. This frustration can lower the self-esteem of employees and decrease their motivation, which in result can lower their productivity (Salas, Rico, ; Passmore, 2017).
Organizational norms and culture
Organizational norms and culture may differ and conflict with other individual’s norms (Gehrke, 2014). These conflicts may be a challenge for the organization to address since individuals need education and time to cope, and adapt to other cultural norm and practices (Gehrke, 2014). Some of the cultural differences involve authority aspects where different cultural backgrounds view authority differently. Relationships between individuals and people with a higher power can bring a problem in multicultural teams. An organization should have rules of engagement between staff of the same level and between other employees and their managers (Gehrke, 2014).
Recommendations for Improving Communications within a Multicultural Team
Communication can be improved by training the multicultural teams. Members of the same team should be trained to interact with members from other cultures, which will improve their relationship and sharing of ideas and skills (Gehrke, 2014). Training of individuals will help avoid misunderstandings in the work environment and improve respect between the members. Each member will be able to respect each other’s opinions, which will encourage members to share their expertise in the different areas of the organization. Training individuals will help them to accommodate different cultures without necessarily affecting their own culture (Gehrke, 2014).
Open and different forms of communication
Organizations should be open minded in communications and accept the diverse differences. Organizations should use the diverse differences positively to help in the decision making process. Leaders and managers should consider opinions of other members, which will increase the confidence of the members (Benet-Marti?nez ; Hong, 2014). Non-verbal communication and signs should also be analyzed and interpreted. Communication is not only based on passing information from one party rather sharing information and ideas between parties and strategies to overcome any communication barriers should be implemented as effective communication will benefit the organization as well as the employees (Benet-Marti?nez ; Hong, 2014). Since diversity is becoming a common and a major aspect in organizations today, organizations should establish strong communication basics for their members. Organizations should take advantage of the diverse communication methods to enhance communication within the team. The communication process should also be simple to help employees to increase their understanding (Benet-Marti?nez ; Hong, 2014).
Modeling and Leading Diversity Acceptance and Change
Diversity acceptance is becoming common today due to the changing diversity of the United States population and the interaction of individuals in work settings, health systems, and educational systems (Schellwies, 2015). Most nationalities are also having a common educational system which results to common knowledge and skills and different individuals from different cultural backgrounds can work anywhere across the world as long as they overcome the cultural and language barriers (Schellwies, 2015). In leading diversity acceptance and change, organizations should create accommodating structures and systems, which will be suitable to the different diversities in culture. Due to the changing markets, organizations have no choice but to adopt and integrate the aspect of diversity in their systems for their survival. These integrations may include good and favorable communication systems and good relationships with different cultures (Schellwies, 2015).
The aspect of multi cultural teams is important for the future survival of any organization (Gehrke, 2014). It has many benefits to organizations and the changing market and every organization can take advantage of this aspect to achieve its goals and objectives. Organizational managers and leaders should be educated and trained on the different perspectives of multicultural teams. This may include the different dimensions of multicultural teams and their importance in the management of the multicultural teams, the challenges organizations can face when integrating multicultural diversity in their systems, and how these challenges can be addressed (Benet-Marti?nez ; Hong, 2014). In addition, affirmative action programs that can help in the integration process of the different diverse cultures, which may include improvement of communication in the multicultural teams. With the benefits associated with multicultural teams in an organization, organizations should incorporate diversity in their management and service delivery systems for successful achievement of their set goals and objectives (Gehrke, 2014).
Benet-Marti?nez, V., ; Hong, Y. (2014). The Oxford handbook of multicultural identity. New York: Oxford University Press.
Gehrke, B. (2014). Global Leadership Practices. Palgrave Macmillan. Palgrave Macmillan.
Hibbert, E., ; Hibbert, R. (2014). Leading multicultural teams. Pasadena: William Carey Library.
Salas, E., Rico, R., ; Passmore, J. (2017). The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of the psychology of team working and collaborative processes. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
Schellwies, L. (2015). Multicultural team effectiveness: Emotional intelligence as success factor. Hamburg: Anchor Academic Publishing.
Thomas, D. C., ; Peterson, M. F. (2014). Cross-cultural management: Essential concepts. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.