Tactics Tuesday - Building an effective multicultural team

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Transcript - Building an effective multicultural team

Welcome to Tactics Tuesday. This week we're looking at building an effective multicultural team. We're going to do it a little bit differently, because sometimes as we talk about change and things we want to do, it's actually hard to visualize. So, we're going to use a visual to take us through this journey.

Let's start our journey on building an effective multicultural team. Now, firstly start with your vision or mission statement and write that down. At the opposite end, also your strategic vision, so where you're actually heading to. Next, your values. What are they, and are they culturally inclusive? And I want you to keep your vision, mission statement and your values in mind as you go through this exercise because these are the things that are the foundation of your organization. And if they're not inclusive with cultural diversity, then you're going to have a hard job in building an effective multicultural team.

Thirdly, who's at the helm? Is there a buy-in that actually this organization does want to be multicultural, or your team wants to be multicultural? Have they bought into the idea? Then as we go on, we think about the goal. What are your goals and do those goals support cultural diversity. Think carefully about them as you put those goals down.

As we move on our journey, think about who your people are. Who are those people that are already on your ship? Your existing staff, are they homogeneous? Do you have cultural diversity already? Because when you can imagine that if you have a very homogeneous team already, how would someone who's culturally diverse going to feel in it to be able to fit into that team? Those existing staff might actually be your strengths or your threats even to building an effective multicultural team.

Let's look at these threats that might threaten building an effective multicultural team. We could have stereotypes, where existing members do have stereotypes of other people. If that's negative, that's going to have an impact and will need to be managed. Different ways of doing things. We do things differently, we all do. But if you're an organization that's very structured and things have to be done in a particular way, then you may struggle with the diversity where people do things differently.

Values and beliefs. That's a real threat because we do all come with different values and beliefs. That also shows or dictates how we interact with people. If other people's values and beliefs are very different from what's the norm within your organization, that's a real threat to the whole productivity of the team.

Then we go on to the assumptions that we make, as we're thinking about this. Just assuming that everybody will fit in. Well, we know that's not the case. Assuming that if English is the common language within your organization, assuming that people where English is their second language understand the whole context of English, they may speak English the words themselves but do they understand the context?

Finally, another assumption is that values won't get in the way. Yes, they will. And these are things that you're going to have to manage. As you think through your threats and your assumptions, you also need to think, "Well, how would I manage these when building an effective multicultural team?"

Then we head along to the sail. What's going to be driving us? Our strengths. What strengths do we already have within our team? Those might be strengths like knowledge, that you do have knowledge and awareness of other cultures. But also think about those strengths you need to up-skill on. Maybe if you don't have as much knowledge as you thought or awareness as you thought of other cultures, you may need a little bit of up-skilling.

Secondly, the resources. What existing resources do you have for embracing and supporting diversity? But what additional resources will you need? These might be resources such as training, workshops that you might have to run with the whole staff, and that all needs budget as we all know. It's always about budget.

Engagement. Think about your existing policies and processes of how you actually engage your workforce, and are you going to need to do that slightly differently when you have a diverse workforce? We can even take diversity rather than culture, generational. We know that we communicate differently to younger people than people who're maybe our same age or even older. You may need to think about what processes you need of how to engage diversity, so that they do feel that they contribute and belong to the team.

As you're thinking through that, you also need to think about the client or your prospective employee. Do they want to actually be on your ship? How have you said to them, "Well, be part of us because we're going to value you for who you are, and the qualities you bring to the organization." Think about how you get your message out there to even see or people to see that your organization is a great opportunity and place for them to work in.

Finally, also just also think about the public's perspective of your organization. How do they see you? Because what you look like out in the real world or how the public see you, will also have an impact of who wants to be part of your organization.

That's it for this Tuesday. But as you can see, you can use this ship for any journey you're taking. Just change the title, but go through that same process. But for now, I hope that you decide whatever you do, if you're building your multicultural team, use the ship. Happy sailing.

Related resource : 10 Tips for Communicating Change to Employees

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About Lorri:

Lorri Lennon is an award-winning advisor, trainer and author in leadership communication. She has 20 years’ experience managing communications for large global organisations.

Lorri conducts master classes to help participants maximise their communications ROI.

About Mariska:

Mariska Mannes is an experienced communication consultant. She holds a Master of Management majoring in Communication, which allows her to bring a blend of qualification and practical experiences to her training programmes. Her expertise is in business and cross cultural communication and behaviour. For more information visit Mariska's LinkedIn profile.