Managing Cultural Differences in Your Distributed Team

We have a culture where we are incredibly self critical, we don’t get comfortable with our success
Mark Parker

Remote working has led to social disconnect resulting in behavioural bias amongst the digital workforce. Companies need to put on their thinking caps and come up with a clear action plan for handling any issues related to heuristics and interpersonal sensitivity. Let’s look at some of the ways leaders can manage biases and misconceptions proactively that would help in maintaining a cordial relationship with their teams for achieving better business outcomes.

Remote working has become the norm of the day and the new age digital workforce cuts across different time zones and geographical boundaries. Global teams emerging from different cultural and political backgrounds present multiple challenges for the future leaders. Let’s look at how cultural differences can impact global teams and some of the ways by which managers can handle these challenges effectively resulting in successful virtual collaboration.

Managers need to understand the project requirements well and plan their hiring and resource allocation strategically for better business outcomes. Tasks which are not that complex can be handled by teams with diverse personal attributes. Deployment of resources would be based on their skill level, linguistic ability, age, gender and value system. Team members must be encouraged to come up with the issues faced by them and the managers need to work closely with their team members for remediation and problem solving. Getting the right mix of heterogeneous team members would help in breaking any cultural barriers and provide the platform for transparency and better decision making.

When the project goals are complex and demands higher levels of competence and cohesion, then it would need resources who have the necessary skills backed by strong experience. In such scenarios, relying on personal diversity could fail since the team members might not be able to meet the project timelines resulting in delays and poor results. Leveraging on contextual diversity would help in collaborating with other people and appreciate differences within the team. Building on each other’s strengths and understanding the underlying context would reduce the digital divide and result in creating a positive environment filled with trust and positivity. This would set the pace for unconventional thinking and promote creativity. The team members would be more aligned towards the project goal and would help in sharing innovative ideas for growth and development.

Businesses need to foster a culture of contextual diversity to groom flexible and versatile individuals in a culturally diverse environment. Global virtual teams need to be engaged through cross cultural communications that would help in understanding cultural differences of people and reduce the communication gap. Conducting diversity awareness training programs would help in reducing prejudice and discrimination and result in positive intergroup interactions. Knowing the team members well would also serve as a tool for reducing the power distance continuum that would result in better interpersonal relationships. Regular feedback sessions need to be held that provide opportunities for constructive criticism and resolving disagreements harmoniously. The innovation potential of companies that embrace diversity is yet to be fully realised and goes beyond the optics.

We at Xforia Technologies provide a supportive work environment for our diverse workforce and help them achieve their business goals through cultural amalgamation and empathetic leadership.