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Key Factors of Multicultural Team Management & Leadership
Multicultural teams have become very common in recent years. With the ease of cross-border mobility, the number of people moving from one country to another has increased significantly. This has also led to people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds intermarrying. Their children could be born and raised in different countries and have hybrid cultural identities. Globalization and advances in communication and transportation technology have reduced trade barriers and increased interaction between people.
Is global homogeneity a possible and desirable vision? Philosophically, this would be highly questionable. This can immediately be equated with the suppression of differences and diversity that are integral to human rights. It can be argued that this will destroy cultures and reduce creativity. There are enough examples in human history, such as the fate of the Native Americans or the actions of the conquistadors in South America, where one culture forcibly destroyed other cultures. Then there are many other examples where aspects of cultures have blended through interaction, such as India and the United States. Today, even though genocides are taking place before our eyes, for example in the Balkans or parts of Africa, the dominant pattern of cultures influencing others is interaction, and there is ample room for preserving one’s own cultural identity. According to the 2000 census, “minorities” They have become the majority of the population in six of the eight largest US metropolitan areas. Thus, living with diversity and managing it has become the main theme of this century.
Many studies have actually shown that diversity in human capital often leads to increased creativity and efficiency. Research has also shown that failure to successfully integrate diverse workforces has a negative impact on organizational performance. This is most clearly expressed in legal actions such as recent discrimination claims against multinational corporations such as Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, and Xerox.
The skills needed to manage people from different backgrounds in the workplace or outside of the workplace can be very different, because in the workplace we are in our job roles and there are many external constraints on our behavior. Many people spend more waking hours with their colleagues than with their spouses and children. That is, any problem that arises in this area will definitely spill over into personal life.
By carefully considering the factors that influence multicultural team leadership or management, we can identify five factors that operate at the team level:
- National culture
- Corporate culture of the organization
- Nature of industry or functional culture (coal mining, marketing, accounting)
- Team development stage
- Personal attributes
National Culture – There are many theories and many studies on how national cultures influence team behavior. Ger Hofstede Consequences of culture (1980) and Cultures and Organizations (1991) are two examples. National culture has many dimensions, such as time orientation, communication style, personal space, competitiveness and outlook. In general, we also deal with stereotypes and cultural biases here. Regional and personal life experiences or character traits may override these “national” cultural traits. In real life, this means that an Italian team member can be shy, quite, or hopeless with German schedules.
Corporate Culture – Corporate culture is closely related to functional culture and is the result of a historical process in which founding and successive leaders left their mark. A large multinational organization should have a more structured, hierarchical and bureaucratic approach to managing their business, whereas an internet web design company of 5 young creative artists would be a completely different environment.
The Nature of Industry – Coal miners, web designers and international bankers come from different worlds. Dress, language, etiquette, unwritten rules of conduct, accepted practices and skills required on the job vary greatly across industries. It is vital that an industry, organization or environment allows team members to demonstrate pride in their professional identity.
Team Development Phase – If the team has just been formed, has no history and experience, everyone should learn the rules of the game. If the team has a history of effective performance, new entrants can rely on established experience and older members to teach them the required skills. The development stage of the team member also plays a big role here. If the team is in formation, the rules of the game are still being discussed and people are learning their roles. ‘veteran‘ when the applicant had to fight, the team member carved a reliable role for himself.
Personal Attributes – Finally, all other factors such as personality, competency profile, individual’s own life experience, reward expectations, willingness and satisfaction with working in a team, as well as previous team work history.
The first three factors are static factors, meaning their characteristics cannot be easily changed by individual actions. Team members, or even the entire team, cannot change the national culture. Individuals, teams and organizations must learn to adapt to them. In fact, team effectiveness is directly related to how well this alignment is achieved. However, the intervention may have a large effect on the last two factors of Team Development Stages and Personal Attributes. A team can accelerate its progress from formation to maturity, and an individual can change personal characteristics by acquiring new skills.
Superior sustained team performance can only be achieved if team members learn to consider dimensions of organizational culture and dimensions of national culture such as orientation to time, communication style, personal space, competition, and worldview. Only when these are successfully adapted to their own work practices to reflect the past realities of team members can teams see the added value that multicultural teams bring.
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