How to work with a multi-cultural team: a case study

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Globalization happens in all sectors of the world. Even local companies or departments often work in multi-cultural teams with people from different cultural backgrounds. Multi-cultural teams offer specific and very valuable advantages and will improve your competitiveness. But, it can also lead to misunderstanding, communication problems and inefficiency when not facilitated properly.

For this case study, we will be looking at a country-team of a multinational production company with roots in the US and Asia. The country manager came to Digne Consult asking us to help him form an effective, constructive team. In his team of 18 people, there were 12 different nationalities from all over the world. Not one was dominantly present.

So we:

  • Started a Cultural Awareness program for the whole team
  • Let everybody fill in their own Personal Cultural Profiler, including the manager
  • Let everybody fill in their own Applied Cultural Intelligence assessment including the manager
  • Made a one-day program for the whole team focused on their Cultural Awareness. We aimed for enhancing general knowledge about what culture means, and how it affected them on a daily basis looking at their own personal cultural profile. We also looked at the culture of the company and their home country.
  • Started coaching the manager on how to manage a multi-cultural team. Based on the results of the test and the knowledge gained from the program we helped him with specific cases he was dealing with. But also in between team members
  • Coached a few team members with specific personal questions they had concerning their cultural preferences and their surroundings.

When we met the manager after 3 months he was very proud of his team. It gave the team a different ‘frame of mind’ looking at internal cultural differences. But it also gave them a ‘vocabulary’ on how to talk about them, in a respectful and positive matter.  His team made great steps in working efficiently and seize the opportunities a multi-cultural team can offers.

He personally succeeded in coaching his team members in a way that fitted their cultural preferences. He was happy with his own progress.

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