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Managing Intercultural Teams

Updated: Jan 31


The author Shaïna Peek of the article:" Managing intercultural teams".

Author: Shaïna Peek

Publication date: 29.09.2023





With countries becoming more intercultural, the workplace also holds more cultures and customs. Having these differing cultures together offers challenges for teamwork. However, when used efficiently, intercultural teams can prove to be very beneficial.


Hofstede’s six dimensions

The first step is acknowledging interculturality. In order to identify the different customs and beliefs of team members, we can use Hofstede’s dimensions. In particular, Dr Geert Hofstede created six dimensions to categorise cultures.


1. Power distance

Power refers to the presence of a system within the country. The power can be distributed hierarchically, with people having a clear place in society. Otherwise, power can be more evenly distributed. Then, there is more equality within the country.


2. Individualism vs. collectivism

The second dimension refers to the sense of community. A culture can be primarily focused on teamwork and collaboration, people depend on each other. This is collectivism. In this case, relationships are fundamental for success. As for individualism, this focuses more on independence. Success in life is assessed through performance.


3. Masculinity vs. femininity

This dimension refers to gender equality. Masculine cultures are considered more traditional, with men expected to be more assertive. Femininity means that there is less distance between men and women. What's more, there is more teamwork and less pressure to work independently.


4. Uncertainty avoidance

In this instance, uncertainty refers to life. To avoid uncertainty is to plan one’s own life. People don’t like surprises and want to know what their future holds. Also, decisions are impacted by the certainty of results. On the contrary, cultures with low uncertainty avoidance are more relaxed. They are open to changes and exploring new opportunities.


5. Long-term orientation vs. short-term orientation

Long-term cultures look more to the future. People are able to adapt more and someone’s status is important. On the contrary, short-term orientation looks at results. These cultures are more traditional and focused on reputation.


6. Indulgence vs. restraint

Indulging countries are focused more on enjoying life and living in the moment. Contradictory, restrained countries are stricter. These countries can be considered more pessimistic as people are expected to show restraint.


Set up rules

estabilishing same rules for everybody

After having established the cultural differences, you are now able to set up a system for the workplace. For example, make English the communication language for all team members. Also, consider giving time restrictions for tasks. This way, you ensure that all members have the same rules and thereby avoid miscommunication.


Share the company goals

In order to be motivated, make employees feel included. By discussing the company goals and values, employees will feel more motivated to perform well. In a team setting, this motivation can lead to creativity and good results. Additionally, make sure that all members understand their roles and requirements. By understanding their roles, communication with team members is easier. Therefore, we avoid unnecessary disturbance.


Host events for intercultural teams

Hosting social events

Team building is very important in order for a team to function well. Hosting events helps create a bond between members. By creating trust, people will feel more comfortable sharing ideas. Not only is creativity improved, but there is also a more relaxed working environment. Apart from that, having an open and comfortable environment improves productivity. Therefore, organising work dinners and social events can prove to be beneficial for the company.

Give individual attention

As the manager of the team, it is important that you are aware of what is going on. Therefore, try to have one-on-one time with your members regularly. Simply asking about their day or inviting them for lunch can have a tremendous impact. If issues occur, try to resolve them quickly by communicating well. By doing so, you create an open and inclusive workspace.


 

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