Cultural differences can transform into cultural traps when people from different cultures are working together. Luckily, there are several ways to identify those cultural barriers and overcome them.
Embrace Cultural Diversity
The essence of culture is values – what people believe in – and any group of people who share common values has a culture. When you look at a certain group and see that within that one group, one can see many different sub-groups that have different values, this is what is called cultural diversity.
Each culture in the world is very diverse and the good thing about this diversity is that there is not just one society, but many different and beautiful ones. However, the importance of cultural diversity is underrated.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with diversity; many societies throughout history have consisted of multiple people groups, religions and cultures coming together and interacting with each other. The United States, for example, is a nation that is known for its American culture but yet, at the same time, consists of many small sub-cultures within it.
When it concerns the workplace, numerous studies have shown that cultural diversity produces much more creative, productive and innovative results as compared to homogenous groups. According to some, the workplace today can be considered a mini version of a society; there could be someone from every culture and diversity helps in keeping the society “fresh” and “alive.”
Hence, it is important to appreciate cultural differences in a workplace and support each other openly rather than resenting or disrespecting each other’s cultures. Embracing cultural diversity at work can lead people to have a more open mindset and attitude, which will eventually have a positive impact on the person’s work productivity.
So, look for opportunities to learn more about your colleagues and their cultures; and focus on the strengths of each culture that could prove to be beneficial to the mix.
Promote Open Communication
Without communication, there’s absolutely no way to make sure everybody in a workplace knows what’s going on or make sure that everyone’s on the same page. If workers don’t communicate properly with each other, then they will adopt the really bad habit of making assumptions and then telling others about their assumptions as if they are proven facts. So, while some would be operating under facts, others would be operating under assumptions and in the end, this division will result in chaos.
Open communication is one of the most effective ways for culturally diverse people to work together and overcome their differences. According to several experts, open communication can certainly achieve a spirit of mutual trust and group belonging. Therefore, try not to let any misunderstanding create any chaos or division; instead, address them as soon as they arise and give each other a chance to present their arguments and discuss their views. And, keep in mind that for open communication to be considered effective, both parties should actively listen to what each has to say – every person’s opinion counts!
Shared Company Culture
The attitudes and actions of an organization’s culture, combined with the working environment, management, decision-making trends, ethics and relationships between the workers together make a company culture. It can also be defined by how employees connect with one another, in their values and in the decisions they make.
A company’s culture is divided into two parts; the “planned” culture is the way the company would like to believe its culture is; and there is the “actual” corporate culture which is the genuine culture of the company. Although company cultures vary considerably from one organization to the next, it is important for each company to have its shared culture and for each employee to belong to that culture.
When all members in a company differ on a cultural level, a new culture must be created for every person to find common ground and work together.