Managing International Teams – Reduce the Risk and Reap the Benefits

Matthew MacLachlan

5 Aug 2010

Have you ever thought of multicultural teams as a distraction? Do differences in approaches and opinions always get in the way of the decision making process? Some people think that cultural difference is something that must be enjoyed but should not get in the way of achieving goals. How could that be an effective perspective at work?

Prioritising goals over relations can be considered a culturally specific trait. Team members may, depending on their cultural background, place more importance on completing tasks over relationship building. People who place tasks before relationships may also value assertiveness and antagonism as opposed to compromise and cooperative achievement. But how could it be possible to enjoy an international environment and the differences that exist if you think that culture is an obstacle to achieving targets?

You can’t fully enjoy and appreciate something that you do not know very well, and the same applies for cultural differences. Either through extensive international experience or by attending a cross cultural awareness training course such as Managing International Teams or Working Effectively across Cultures, you will be able to understand how culture influences the way people communicate and, in particular, how they approach business relations.

The way people talk to each other, their working standards and the ability to adapt constitutes challenges in an international environment. Hence, it is crucial to acquire the right skills to acknowledge with an open mind the cultural gaps in order to pursue effectively your team’s goals without letting them be in the way of your operations.

Managers should make sure that members of international teams have appropriate cross cultural training to make them aware of the different styles of communication and approaches that their international colleagues or customers might display. Harnessing the many cultural perspectives and opportunities of cross-cultural teams requires the ability to motivate each team member no matter their culture by creating a sense of trust between employees.

Through an understanding of culture and its impact on business and cross cultural teams, intercultural training helps global organisations remove any potential of conflict and risk and gives them the knowledge they need to reap the benefits of a culturally diverse team without taking the focus off the targets.



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