Diversity in the work place, when managed properly, is a great asset to the organization.
Yet, many times it’s an uphill battle, for the team as well as its leaders.
Why is that?
Maybe because we all are more comfortable being around people like ourselves.
Take people with pets, for example.
I have birds: Sunny and Flipper. My friends keep cats, dogs, or birds for pets.
And I love visiting with them.
But if you would have an unusual type of pet I may need some convincing to be around you (or your pet!).
That same feeling or reluctance, if you will, it’s felt when we find ourselves working with people of culturally diverse backgrounds.
Often we cannot relate to their upbringing and we struggle to understand their perspective.
Communication and Trust
One of the biggest barriers in a multicultural team is communication.
Accent and fluency will obviously make it difficult to communicate effectively.
But it’s much more complex than that: status, authority, and more. How one feels about the community also plays a major role.
In a big city where many of its residents are coming from different parts of the world, getting integrated it’s somewhat easier.
In a small Midwest town feeling like one of the locals may be somewhat more challenging.
As the manager or the team leader, your job is to build an atmosphere of trust.
Trust will pave the way for the team members to understand and accept each other’s differences.
Yes, communication can be challenging, especially when cultural and language barriers are part of the equation.
It takes effort to make it work. And everyone needs to be involved. Create a positive, supporting work environment, and your team will achieve great results.
Achieve great results and create something beautiful. Jimmy Carter said, “We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic.”