Managing different cultures in the workplace

In today’s modern multicultural society, it is likely that as the manager and/or owner of a franchise, at some stage you will find yourself managing a heterogeneous group of employees, each from different cultures and backgrounds. 

While working with such a group can be challenging given the varying needs and communication styles of the different individuals, ultimately incorporating a variety of working styles and talents into your franchise will usually be of significant benefit to the organisation. 

In his 2007 work, The Difference: How the power of diversity creates better groups, firms, schools and societies, Scott Page used mathematical modeling to show that groups which are diverse in nature consistently bettered homogenous teams on a wide range of assignments.  This improved performance can also apply to your real estate franchise - the advantages of having a multicultural team can include the increase in your business’ appeal to a wider range of customers, as well as your office growing its skill base.

However when working with such a diverse team, it is important to understand some of the issues that can possibly arise and how you can best manage these to avoid a detrimental impact on your business. 

Communication can often pose a problem in multicultural businesses, especially when English is not the first language of some of your employees.  Body language can also prove to confuse some people.  To avoid any miscommunication, ensure that the lines of communication between managers and staff are always open and encourage your employees to talk to you about any confusing matters. 

The different needs and work practices of the varying cultures in your workplace could also be a point of contention, especially if other employees don’t understand a tradition, or feel an employee is receiving special treatment (for example, wearing a different dress code).  While each situation is different, managers need to ensure that the same level of fairness applies to all employees, accommodating each circumstance within the framework of a company-wide policy. 

In situations where some employees don’t understand the cultures of others, it can often be a smart idea to celebrate the special occasions of such cultures, to promote education and interaction in a fun way. 

In order to ensure the best levels of success for your real estate franchise, it is important to build a varied skill base, which can often come through hiring people from a number of different backgrounds and cultures.  Additionally, in having a multicultural workforce, your business is better positioned to appeal to Australia’s growing multicultural community. 

Good franchise managers will be aware of the issues that have the potential to arise in the bringing together of a group of people from different backgrounds, and should have appropriate policies in place to curb the impact of any such problems.  

Posted by George Tarbey on 30/05/2011 at 2:18 PM | Categories:

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