With the increased globalization of workplace settings across most industries, today’s managers need a more precise understanding of intercultural communication in an effective management strategy. It is important that managers proactively engage in communication skills assessment and make necessary adjustments in order to address the current needs of today’s increasingly diverse workforce. When assessing intercultural communication, it is important to have a plan in place and keep these points in mind:
1. Know Your Team:
While getting to know as many cultures as possible is a noble endeavor, in reality managers are strapped for time like everyone else. If your functional outsourcing group is diverse, or you have recently hired a new group of employees, or your company is reaching out to more overseas investors, then you have a great opportunity to develop more effective intercultural communication skills that will be most applicable to your team as an integrated part of your diversity training initiatives.
A consultant certified with significant coursework in intercultural communication can lead a productive discussion group with managers to elucidate key elements of intercultural communication that can improve employee/client relations and contribute positively to work productivity. Understanding topics such as: international nuances regarding the concept of personal space in business interactions; the connotation of punctuality in meetings and planned interactions; and different perspectives on maintaining eye contact, can help managers create a more conducive and welcoming work environment.
Among the more technical skills a manager with intercultural communications can offer his or her team is an understanding of the fundamental focus of various cultures on the written word (content) versus the manner and delivery of those words (context). Understanding some of these basic principles can provide strong insight into selecting the most effective methods of communicating with and managing your business interactions. Even if you do not get it right all the time, employees and business partners will appreciate your willingness to meet him or her on common ground, and this motivates all parts of your team to work cohesively reaching for the highest potential.
2. Do Your Homework:
Just as in any group, there are differences among individuals, and understanding general distinctions within a cultural group is important. Do your homework without singling out individuals. One major area is religious beliefs. After honing their own intercultural skills, managers should be able to lead effective training sessions to explain nuances of several cultural beliefs that may impact work related situations. If a team member’s religion requires prayer during the day, remember not to schedule essential meetings at that time; this will convey the message that the team member is important. Allowing flexibility around holy days when possible builds an appreciation of management. Gender balance in groups is important to those who discourage single women from being alone with men. Creating a workplace where there is not just a tolerance of difference, but an embracing of it can go a long way to productive business relationships.
Other cultural considerations that could be helped with greater intercultural communication skills include: gender differences, generational differences, and socio-economic differences. Of course, these components overlap other cultural considerations, so a manager with intercultural training from a reputable university also generally has an ongoing network of peers who can act as mentors as intercultural communication challenges arise.
3. The Platinum Rule:
Most current diversity training programs include the tenet that it is no longer good enough to use the golden rule when dealing with other people in the way you want to be treated. In today’s global workplaces, it is incumbent upon managers to step up their managerial skills to what has been coined as the “Platinum Rule.” Managers who want to remain competitive in the global marketplace and who want to lead effective teams working with heightened synergy know that they must exercise an understanding of how the other person wants to be treated in a business setting. Taking the time to get to know the individuals in your group requires a more robust set of managerial soft skills, and effective ways to implement those skills without making an individual feel singled out.
An effective intercultural communication program, such as Notre Dame’s Advanced Specialized Certificate in Intercultural Management, should provide a diverse set of skills that are easily applicable to a manager’s unique situation and setting. Skilled professionals who are leaders in their field can provide not only the knowledge, but the personal experience to make the concepts come alive. Instruction with self-assessment allows the individual to tailor the program toward the skills necessary for personal success. Having access to an ongoing library of materials and peer networking for long term success and development are also key features of a quality intercultural communication program for managers striving for excellence in today’s increasingly diverse global workplace.