Organisational culture vs. the culture of the people within an organisation
Rod Barnett, MDF Asia Senior Trainer/Consultant, in his article, explained that each organisation has its own culture. He adds that leaders play ultimate role in setting the culture that benefits the organisation. “Organisations have a common set of assumptions and beliefs about what behaviours are viewed positively or negatively," Barnett says.
Managing multi-cultural teams effectively requires concerted effort from all levels of management. An organisation's culture affects the behaviours often related to the extent to which employees follow set procedures, systems, structures and strategies. You are probably aware of 'This is where we want to go' (mission, vision), and 'This is how we have organised ourselves' (organogram, job descriptions).
Welcome to the new normal!
Working in multi-cultural teams is the new normal in the development, government and private sectors. However, organisations do not often pay deliberate attention to the cultural dynamics that are at play in our teams. For instance, do you understand the reasons behind the communication hiccups that happen in your multi-cultural team? What parameters can your organisation put in place to ensure that staff from different cultural backgrounds work harmoniously and effectively? These are pertinent questions that every manager needs to answer exhausitvely in order to manage multi-cultural teams effectively.
A participant in our recently concluded Leadership and People Management Training gave insight into her organisation's multi-cultural setting. The organisation, which has staff from different cultural backgrounds including; Africa, Asia and Europe, have adopted variations in the pace of working, tone of communication and expectations on how decisions are made.
How to work well in a multi-cultural setting
When such diverse cultural aspects are not discussed and considered, one might find themselves getting frustrated.
For example, Eva Kimani, an MDF staffer based in Kenya, lived and worked in Ghana and had this to say about her inter-cultural work experience:
“You need time to develop working relationship. You cannot provide direction or make requests without a personal connection; without rapport. Ghanaians may find you abrasive and impatient, with the possibility of losing an assignment at inception being very easy,” Eva Kimani says.
The MDF Multi-cultural experience
MDF has a long-standing experience in engaging with inter-cultural teams across the globe. It operates in an inherently multi-cultural environment. We have 10 offices world-wide and within those offices our teams consist of trainers and consultants that come from across the continents.
Furthermore, we facilitate leadership training and management training with participants coming from all corners of the globe. We offer support to national and international clients. These are, among others, NGOs that interact with international development partners on management advice and evaluation of interventions.
We will share some tips on how to deal with situations that occur when managing inter-cultural teams in subsequent blogs. They will focus on how to be culturally sensitive in various situations. These include: giving instructions, planning, communicating about work tasks, decision making, time keeping, and trust building.