There are many ways to improve the performance and effectiveness of a cross cultural team. In fact, if a cross cultural team is managed correctly and properly, the diversity and the differences between people can be utilized as the source of competitive advantage and strengths of the particular team. The various methods, illustrated from the do and don’t manner; to improve a cross cultural team performance are as follow:
Recommendation #1: have a cross-culturally sensitive and competent leader. Having a leader in a team is very important, as the leader decision and judgment is very often needed to direct the team to achieve challenging tasks, while solving conflicts among team members that could arises occasionally. To improve the performance of a cross cultural team, the leader selected must have strong knowledge on the cultural and behaviors of the team member from different cultural setting. This will enable him to communicate properly and form accurate understanding on the desires and motivation of the team members. The leader will eventually become the facilitator and coordinator in managing and leading the cross-cultural team, and without proper knowledge and understanding on the various cultures, it is impossible for the leader to communicate the vision and mission effectively to all of the team members.
Recommendation #2: all members should receive some degree of cultural sensitivity training. In fact, having understanding and tolerance for the other culture is not a task solely to be borne by the leader alone. All the team members have the duties to learn each other culture, although they may not be necessarily as competent as the leader in managing or understandings the differences between cultures. When the team members have some understandings on the differences, and more importantly, agree and acknowledge that these differences can serve as the source of competitive advantage that is highly beneficial to the team, they can more easily accept the point of views from others. This can ensure people are open-minded and avoid unnecessary conflicts – which often is the devil that hurt or damage a team’s effectiveness or performance.
Recommendation #3: the must be some efforts spend on relationship building among members instead of directing all focus on achieving the objectives of the team. In order to enhance people understanding, it is important that some time is spent for the team members to get know each other besides working. Team building can be organized and the team members are required to solve a problem with cooperation from each member. If the relationships are close, it is easier for each team member to accept the differences between the people. The friendship factor is highly important – as when people get familiar to each other, unnecessary conflicts can be avoided and prevented. In fact, as the friendship between people are being built, they can more easily cooperate and working in a more effective and smooth manner. People will become more tolerate and understanding.
Recommendation #4: it is good to respect for the other culture, but the achievement of mission should be place as the priority in an effective team. There will be times when the conflicts between cultural differences are impeding the progress of the team. In such instances, it is critical to remain focus on the fulfillment of the main objectives. Some party must give up his stand for rater goods. The leader is important, where he must weigh the advantages and disadvantages from such a decision. To make everyone happy and to incorporate all viewpoints from every team member can be time consuming or perhaps impossible – and team members have to understands this. Of course we need to have valid reasons not to follow the suggestions or viewpoints by some people, but the followers must agree that to reach the main objective of the team is more information and to express his personal ideas or suggestions.
Recommendation #5: assumptions should be avoided if possible. Often, people may assume something which is hardly understood by others. For this, team members must be taught some psychological ideas (such as the perception and assumptions impacts to a person decision making process and communication style) so that he understand that he is talking with implicit assumptions which are non-accessible by others. All important assumptions should be ferreted; so that it is explicitly communicated to each others. As the impacts from implicit assumptions are lesser, the team can become more effective as people in a team can understand the decision making process and plan designed for the benefits of the entire team.
Recommendation #6: communication should be kept clear and formal, and the lesser usage of non-verbal communication, the more effective the team can be. It is very demanding to ask people from other culture to learn some others’ culture and behaviors. In fact, it is time consuming and unnecessary that all people become cultural experts. However, the communication between people from diverse culture should be kept clear and concise. People must understand that their non-verbal communication style is not understood by others – and it is unreasonable to expect other will comprehend what you are trying to say with your facial expression or emotion. Thus, non-verbal communication should be avoided, and all feelings, emotions, and ideas should be clearly stated out. This can prevent a lot of unnecessary conflicts or misunderstandings.