Global teams have become more common in recent years. These include both multicultural teams working together in one location and teams spread across various countries.
Joining such a diverse team can be a daunting experience, even for seasoned professionals. Here are a few tips gathered from my experience of working with multiple cultures, both in one place and across different locations.
Make an effort to socialise
Work/life balance is important in most cultures. If possible, try to avoid spending all your time talking about work and see if you can find something else you have in common with your colleagues or some interesting differences.
Striking up a conversation about hobbies is a good starting point. Shared interests often help to build and sustain good working relationships.
Spending time with fellow team members outside the office is also worthwhile. Learning more about their life experiences and working styles and getting insights into cultural differences can help to build closer bonds.
Take time to discover the cultures of your colleagues
It’s important to spend time with colleagues to learn about their cultures.
Reading books, watching films and listening to music also are all good ways to get insights into other cultures, as well as to share aspects of your own.
Note that films about a country can often be controversial, and some are more culturally accurate than others. However this can provide a good talking point, and the very fact that you have taken the time to watch the film will show that you are making a real effort.
Do try to avoid making sweeping statements based on cultural stereotypes. It’s best to ask questions and make your own observations to find out whether stereotypes are true or not.
Also, be aware that attitudes toward humour can vary, so tread carefully. Again, investing time getting to know your international colleagues and building up a rapport is important. It will help you gauge their sense of humour and avoid inadvertently creating awkward situations.
Geert Hofstede’s 6-D Model is a good resource to refer to.
Pay attention to timekeeping
The importance placed on being timely varies from culture to culture.
Yes, it’s a lazy stereotype, but Germans are renowned for their punctuality, while Arab cultures tend to be much more relaxed about it, especially in senior ranks.
As a general rule, where possible, it’s best try to be punctual and, if you arrive somewhere late, provide an explanation. Regardless of the culture of your teammates, this shows respect, which will usually be appreciated.
Keep an open mind
Above all, be open to learning and experiencing new cultures.
Invest time in getting to know the people you’re working with and their cultures. Establish their different approaches to work and discover how you can work effectively together. And don’t be afraid to try new things. Embrace the differences and take this wisdom with you as you move forward in your career.
Renoir’s international experience
At Renoir we have significant experience of running cross-cultural projects and helping different cultures work together successfully.
Our consultants come from countries across the world and we all receive training in cultural differences as well as emotional intelligence skills, which helps us facilitate effective cross-cultural collaboration.
During a project we will spend time getting to know the client team, especially the Taskforce we’re working with, to make sure cultural differences won’t get in the way of the mission at hand. This makes for an enjoyable process and helps to bring about successful and sustainable results.
To find out more about how you could benefit from working with Renoir, please get in touch.