The Case of a Troubled Work Team

Today, increasing globalization has facilitated the existence of multicultural organizations. By definition, a multicultural organization is one with a workforce that includes individuals from diverse cultures, and which provides them with an equal platform for input and advancement in the organization. Despite the benefits of having a multicultural team, it has been a challenge for leaders and managers to work with the teams because of misunderstanding (Özbilgin et al. 2013). To prove this, I am leading a multicultural team of six members. The team has been working well for nine months, but things changed when Nadera and Cyrus joined. Notably, a misunderstanding of the two stems from cultural orientation. In this paper, I will discuss how I will manage the situation to make sure that the project runs smoothly.

Cultural differences of the team

I lead a multicultural team consisting of six members. The members are Michael, an African American, Li, a female from China, Jinsoo from Korean, Cyrus, a male from Iran, Nadera, a female from India, and Patrick from Irish. Notably, the team members are from different countries hence a difference in cultural orientation. Hofstede’s offers leaders with a tool to examine multicultural relations to know the differences in their behavior. According to Hofstede (2010), culture differs from power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism-collectivism, masculinity-femininity, and long-term-short-term orientation. These aspects help leaders and managers of a team to construct individual behaviors in a team.

To begin with, power distance involves how societies handle inequality. High power distance countries like China, India, and Iran indicates that members of society who are less powerful claims of uneven distribution of power (Hofstede, 2010). In high power distance nations, information sharing is constrained by hierarchy.  It means there will be a problem of information sharing between Cyrus and Nadera because they come from countries of a high power distance. Cyrus’s masculine culture is driven by competition and achievement, while Nadera is from a culture with a balance between masculinity and femininity. The two are more likely to fight when working together because Cyrus wants to compete to win. The same analysis goes with other countries contributing to an individual’s behavior in the team.

The status of the team

I work with a company, which wanted to incorporate the latest technology. The project is supposed to be delivered in 30 days. The team to help me achieve this is currently having a problem. Nadera and Cyrus are not getting along and are complaining about each other. Nadera claims that Cyrus, as a Muslim, does not show respect to her. She claims that Cyrus does this because she is a Hindu Woman. Although Nadera and Cyrus have unique skills and experience that demands they work together, the two have a problem with one another. The wrangles between the two are affecting the project because the environment is not conducive. However, because of the magnitude of the project to the organization and the team, a solution has to be found.

Solutions to the problem (plan)

Managing diversity involves valuing people and respecting what each brings to the team (Ravazzani, 2016). Because it is not enough to understand the differences, it is important to enhance an inclusive environment to handle the project successfully. In regards to this, I will develop team policies that address diversity issues and needs. The policies will help in creating an all-inclusive team because individuals tend to react according to their environment. One aspect that assists in contextualizing workplace in a diverse environment is the Institutional Theory of Diversity Management (Yang & Konrad, 2011). According to this theory, the behavior of employees in an organization has limiting factors such as legislation laws, social and professional norms. Therefore, employees are more likely to behave based on their environment.

I will incorporate various policies and laws.  First, everyone must participate in cultural enrichment events. This will allow the team to learn more about other cultures in the workplace. Secondly, no one should cultural beliefs about others to classify them or group them. I will make sure that all team members adhere to the guidelines. In such an environment, I believe the team members will be able to appreciate one another. The socio-cultural theory will help in promoting the creation of an environment like common language and symbols that will bring the team together (Sharma, 2016). Language and symbols should be specific because it communicates a social phenomenon practiced in an organization.

Secondly, I will train the team on aspects around diversity. Diversity training is a crucial strategy for the effective management of a diverse team. Understanding the changes in demographics, coined with increased international business opportunities, people are actively incorporating a training strategy to build inclusive teams (Özbilgin et al. 2013). To make sure that team members can accept the existence of diverse groups, teams, and firms are investing in diversity training. I will organize for diversity training for my team to improve their understanding of diversity. The role of this training is to promote the need to accept and value diversity and encourage self-awareness. I will enforce a skill-based training, which consists of educating the team in aspects to do with cultural variations and how to respond effectively as a team.

A culture-focused environment will direct diversity awareness that allows the team to respect different cultures, and to use these variations to make informed decisions (Özbilgin et al. 2013). Moreover, I will run the training across the period of the project to make sure that all members get to value diversity. There is constant agreement among practitioners that ongoing learning is important to become diversity competent. Some of the most appropriate approaches for diversity training consists of making the training continuous, applicable, and solid. These approaches ensure that the team involved in the training accepts and values diversity. Through this, I expect Nadera and Cyrus to learn their differences and use that to make a better decision when working together.

The third strategy that I will use cross-cultural synergy to create a favorable atmosphere for the project (Lee, 2016). The strategy will allow Nadera and Cyrus to cooperate in the same field of operation. The concept of synergy calls for teamwork, where the team will pull together to work out their problems. It also needs the ability to be open with one another regarding operation. I will make sure that Cyrus and Nadera makeup and sort out their differences to create a suitable environment. I will make them understand that it would be impossible to achieve the goals of the project without teamwork. Besides, I will let them know that it is much more important to work together rather than to fight. Finding solutions and way forward should be the main idea here.

The weaknesses of the current plan

Diversity is about how people see themselves as well as how they see others. These perceptions influence their understanding of others. For a greater assortment of team members to work efficiently, as a leader, I should promote the use of unbiased language and adaptability. However, there exist various weaknesses with the current plan of handling the situation. Diversity training alone, as proposed, is not sufficient for handling issues to do with diversity in a team or organization. It needs adequate resources and total commitment for them to realize their dreams in relation to the main agenda. Culture is a shared belief among individuals. Therefore, it would be challenging to eliminate such behavior with training as a major strategy.

Another challenge is resistance from some team members. While cross-culture synergy tends to bring people together, some will refuse to make up with the other. There are always people who will not understand and accept the changes in the cultural makeup of an organization. For instance, some cultures do not allow women to lead. In such a culture, it will be impossible to convince an individual to accept and appreciate the existence of other cultures for the sake of working together for a common goal. In this light, I am sure that makeup may continue for a short time, and the fights would begin because the plan was not effective.

An alternative plan

Having an alternative plan is a good option. It is worth noting that the current problems in the team are caused by Cyrus and Nadera, who should be working together to because of their skills. Since the project needs to be complete in 30 days, I will reorganize the team’s roles to make sure that Nader and Cyrus get a suitable platform to deliver their mandate even as diversity training continues. After reorganizing the team to achieve, make sure that the project runs effectively, I will introduce another strategy. I will choose a survey provider who will develop a comprehensive reporting of the team. The report will provide detail behaviors of the team members as well as recommendations on the best environment for each. The team members will be involved in the implementation of the changes. They must decide what changes need to be made and a timeline for the change to be attained.

Conclusion

Even as diversity brings benefits to an organization, it presents many challenges that require good leadership. As a leader of a multicultural team consisting of six members, it is challenging to make sure that the team members get along, especially Cyrus and Nadera. I will use methods like incorporating diversity policies in the team, training the team on diversity issues as well as use cross-cultural synergy. However, these methods are not sufficient in handling diversity issues in a team or organization. Besides, they require a lot of time, especially the training aspect. Because of these weaknesses, I have an alternative plan. I intend to reorganize the team to separate Nadera and Cyrus and determine how the project can run effectively.

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