4 keys to successful cross-cultural collaboration
Collaboration has always been the pillar of every team’s success. Among the advantages brought, efficient collaboration can increase productivity and at the same time, create a strong synergy among the group members, where different mindsets will work together for a common objective.
In the last few years with the advent of globalization and new technologies, organizations have begun to deal firsthand with a “globalized work environment” and the related challenges. Indeed, nowadays the majority of project managers find themselves overseeing cross-cultural teams, in many cases with employees located in various countries around the world and working remotely. Differences in languages, work ethics, cultural norms and traditions are just some of the challenges that need to be overcome to avoid conflicts and frustrations that might end up in a poorer performance.
As a consequence, It’s fundamental for every manager to start embracing these cultural differences and taking advantage, by promoting a collaborative and open-minded approach to teamwork. If efficient collaboration might be difficult at first, it will also increase your creativity in the end, helping you to stay competitive in today’s global business environment.
How to optimize this process of cross-cultural collaboration?
One thing is for sure: team-work does not always come naturally. Failure to embrace and adapt to cultural differences can be tremendously harmful to the success of the team and the organization in general. Here we have summarized 4 steps that can help you lead your multicultural team to success and improve your cross-cultural leadership:
Take time to learn about the others
The idea is to open a dialogue with the main objective of learning more about each other, in order to raise awareness of the cultural differences characterizing each group member. The team leader must take the time to get to know all of the members, learning more about their history and background, in particular at the beginning when major misunderstandings might set foot. This process can also highlight specialized abilities within the group that might end up being useful for future activities. In this part good communication is essential and every member must have the chance to express his thoughts and ideas. Be sure to actively solicit the participation of each one.
Promote active listening and plan recaps often
Even if it might come naturally when speaking to only think about the message you are sending, communication is a two-way road and you shouldn’t ever presume that people on the other side will fully understand what you are saying. This is even more true when a language barrier is present, such as in the case of cross-cultural collaboration where language differences represent one of the most difficult obstacles. In this case, promoting active listening is fundamental. Moreover, activities such as restating or summing up what has just been said might help overcome the problem. It can be really helpful for example to ask the team at the end of every meeting to review what was discussed and explain what their next move would be.
Define clear roles and responsibilities
For the team’s success, it’s crucial that every team member has clear in his mind, not only the common goal that has to be reached but also its role within the strategy. Having a shared objective and being aware of the contribution given to reach it can provide a strong sense of identity, that might bring team members together and improve teamwork. You can contribute to this by outlining the specific steps needed to achieve the objective set and defining each member’s role and responsibility. In this way, you will also avoid misunderstanding.
Don’t take everything too seriously
Humor is the number-one icebreaker for every group, even in the workplace. A friendly environment can help people open up more and show their personalities easier. Organizations should make every effort to establish opportunities for casual interactions between co-workers, for example organizing team-building activities both during and after office hours. Events like happy hours, company outings, lunch and birthday celebrations can be the perfect occasion to socialize and learn more about your colleagues, in a more genuine and informal way.
To summarize, cross-cultural collaboration can be a huge challenge for companies that are not able to fully understand it and embrace it. Anyway, if done right, it can represent one of the keys to your team’s success. The right strategy is fundamental for sure, but instruments such as Uppwise can simplify the process. Indeed, Uppwise solution is capable of supporting you and your team in every step of this journey, be ready to build a successful cross-cultural communication and collaboration!If you found this article interesting and would like to have a more in-depth look at cross-cultural management and other topics, we would be happy to guide and support you in your search for better and more tailored solutions for your specific business needs!
Founder of Uppwise, Gioacchino has solid hands-on, experience and vision in the PPM Market, gained as a startupper and founder of a number of software & cloud-services companies. During the last two years he has lead the company transformation, shifting from the offering of a traditional PPM product to a new suite of SPM, APM and CWM products.