a) Which are three key intercultural communication challenges in this team?
b) Which elements of effective global remote team management are present and absent?
c) Map out the values patterns (similarities and differences) between the team members, between the current leader team, and yourself.
Languages, Time Zones, and National Culture are three key challenges. Because there are many different languages being spoken, the translation of the words and context are critical and always imperfect. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to translate an entire text word-forword from one language to another, because different languages may convey views of the world in different ways.
The time zones also pose a challenge in communicating. As many of the employees are not culturally aware, they try to contact team members when there is a national holiday in their country and are confused by not being able to reach anyone.
National culture poses a challenge especially in face to face interactions. Gestures and social etiquette are not always universal, and practices of different religions can lead to misunderstandings, such as in the case study with Lars pushing his Saudi team member to drink despite him declining due to his religion. Pushing further makes situations uncomfortable for both parties.
There is a significant lack of communication and a significant lack of cultural understanding. There are multiple scenarios where because the person communicating did not understand the receiver’s culture, there were issues. The sexual harassment being a cross culture communication misunderstanding, Holiday closures for offices, and religious choices in social gatherings. There linear communication present but not dynamic. Dynamic communication is key for effective management. Such as the issue with Lars and Ramazan, not communicating back and forth once given a task. Individualism is also present in this communication as Khan emphasizes the importance to not make a decision for the whole but listen to each person as an individual when discussing their focus.
The team members seem to be valuing individualism, working on what is best for their section of the organization, rather than the whole organization. A culture’s orientation towards individualism or collectivism has important behavioral consequences for its members. The current leader wants to focus on what will be good collectivism, or the whole organization in all regions. The Swedish employee Lars is a great example of Uncertainty avoidance, which is different if you were to look at the other region employees. Those from Sweeden, having low uncertainty avoidance tend to cope with the stress and anxiety caused by ambiguous situations. They take more initiative, show greater flexibility and feel more relaxed in interactions. Lars is more comfortable with risk and are able to cope with the stress and anxiety that it causes. This is shown easily as Lars is known to be insensitive towards social and cultural practices. Lars is even known to mock those and their English competency. These are big risks and insult to other cultures. As a Westerner I value direct communication as it leads to less time wasted and less confusion. As this is a cross cultural team their values on direct versus indirect will vary depending on their region and culture. Communication is not necessarily universal in that sense.
If you were the leader of this team…
a) Which intercultural communication competencies do you need to develop further in yourself? Why? How?
b) Which intercultural communication competencies do team members need to develop first? Why?
How will you help them?
c) What is your action plan for change, so that the team becomes engaged and productive again? Be particularly
specific about your first three months.
d) How will you measure success? At the end of months 3, 6 and 12, respectively?
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