Davis (2003, p. 45) argues that cultural differences are usually created by race-ethnicity, gender, function, and tenure among the organization factors. Difference in culture may result to the rise of conflicts among team members. This usually results to disrupted communication within the organization and eventually negative outcomes. Therefore, it is the role of every organization and entire management to come up with various ways of managing and reducing negative effects of cultural differences. Management in various organizations should ensure that they are able to detect and avoid such cases from arising. Political backgrounds and experience are other major factors that contribute to cultural differences. Multicultural teams and differences in most occasions generate dilemmas in the organization management. Cultural differences usually create considerable obstacles to efficient teamwork. Recognizing various underlying cultural causes of conflicts is the main challenge in managing multicultural teams by organizations' management. It is also a great challenge for management to get teams back into the track as well as empowering members to manage and deal with the challenges of cultural differences in future. Work-group diversity has become one of the most challenging issues that are facing various organizations currently. Various factors like demographic, cultural and legal factors have greatly changed the composition of organizations' work forces. Demographic factors include multi-culturalism, equality initiatives, globalization, and declining birth rates. Therefore, this requires managers, employers, and employees to be sensitive to both intra- and intergroup differences. They are also required to adopt practices and policies which are effective in coping with such changes.
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Managing cultural diversification
Ely & Thomas, (2001, p. 230) maintains that managers and team members can manage cultural differences. This is only possible if they adopt and chose the right strategies within their organizations. Cultural difference poses various challenges which include hindering success within the organization. They pose as a barrier to effective communication which is a key element in any organization. Cultural difference creates differing attitudes towards authority and hierarchy hence difference in the ways people are treated. It also leads to conflicts especially when making decisions. These challenges are a great hindrance towards success and development of any organization. Therefore, managers need to come up with various strategies and policies in ensuring cultural differences and challenges are eliminated.
According to Nankervis, Compton & Baird, (2002, p. 120), they are four main strategies of dealing with cultural challenges for managers and various teams in organizations. They include adaption, structural intervention, managerial intervention and exit. Adaption mainly involves acknowledgement of cultural gaps frankly and even working around them. Managerial intervention involves early setting of norms and even bringing in of high-level management. Structural intervention is changing of the team's shape. Exit involves removing a team member in case the options have failed. They are several steps that any organization's management can adopt in dealing and eliminating cultural differences. Identification of the challenge is the key and first step in dealing with multicultural differences. Assessing the circumstances under which the differences are occurring is another crucial step towards dealing with multicultural differences.
Adaption is a great strategy that organizations encourage in dealing with cultural diversity. This involves teams finding various ways of working with and around the challenge that they encounter. It also involves adapting practices and attitudes without necessarily making changes to the assignment of the group. Adaption works well when members of the team or organization acknowledge and even name their differences in culture as well as assuming their responsibilities. It also involves figuring on various ways to live with the cultural differences. Adaption has been seen as the best way of dealing with cultural diversity difference as it does not demand a lot of time as compared to other strategies. This is mainly because members of the team take part in problem solving while learning from the process. This kind of mind set plays a great role in ensuring there are creative in protecting their cultural differences within the organization. Organization taking this type of initiative ensures that cultural diversity does not affect its performance and operations among its teams. Various organizations' managements have found adaption as an ideal strategy towards solving cultural diversity. This is mainly because it is effective and solves its own problem with little input from management. Team members must be aware of this strategy in order for it to be successful in solving the intended problems or differences. However, negotiating a common understanding may take sometime among the team members.
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Structural intervention is another way that organizations are utilizing in ensuring they manage the cultural diversity. It is an intentional reorganization or reassignment that is designed to reduce or eliminate source of conflict between people or teams. It is also intended to reduce interpersonal frictions that largely contribute to cultural diversity. The strategy works effectively when obvious subgroups separate the team. This is mainly if team members are clinging to negative stereotypes of one another or feel threatened. Structural intervention also involves creating smaller working groups of diversified cultures. This enables team members to know and even respect every team member. Various organizations utilize or use this strategy as it encourages reduction of cultural diversity within the organization. Structural intervention as a strategy for managing cultural diversity shields people who are not working well in a team.
Managerial intervention also plays a vital role in solving organization's cultural diversity effects. Although the failure to involve team in decision making may result to a stalemate, it is important for managers to intervene when cultural diversity blocks the success of decision making. Managerial intervention has been used in many occasions by various organizations to solve sort out its problems effectively. Setting norms early in a team through managerial intervention assists the team towards starting out effectively. Managers encourage team members to encourage each other towards ensuring everybody is appreciated and encouraged to work with each other despite cultural diversity. Managers address the issues like language barrier and ethnic diversity directly. They encourage them on various ways to solve cultural diversity within the team and entire organization.
Exit is another strategy that is utilized towards reducing the problems of cultural diversity. This is usually the last and infrequent strategy towards managing cultural differences. It is important for those members who are not happy with their teams to move out of the team to another team. This will ensure there is continued delivery of efficient services. Exit of one or several members is used by organizations as a last resort. One or several members of the team or organization may be kindly requested formally by management to exit. They may also exit voluntarily from the team.
According to Bhatia & Chaudary (2003, p. 25), managing diverse culture within an organization is not an easy task. Realizing and managing cultural diversity within an organization has been on the increase. This is assisting greatly in facilitating organizational progress and success. On a broad perspective, organizations can manage cultural diversity through communication. This is creating awareness among the employees and various teams on the importance of diverse values of peers. Another way is through cultivating; this is facilitating encouragement, support, and appreciation of any employee' achievement by all other colleagues. Diverse culture can also be managed through capitalizing strategies. This involves linking diversity to every process of business and strategy such as employee development, re-engineering, succession planning, performance review and management.
Organizations also adopt various innovative ways towards management of cultural diversity. This includes incorporating various people from different cultural backgrounds as well as acknowledging the importance of their cultural. Appreciating people cultural background usually leads to reduced background differences. This ensures there is a common organizational diversity that does not affect the performance of various teams. Organizations have also started empowerment to all members regardless of race or gender. Empowerment is crucial towards making of an effective decision making. Towards reducing culture diversity difference, organizations are encouraging free contribution towards decision making processes. Utilization of empowerment in diverse organizations results to more trust among the team members as well as higher productivity. Empowerment in an organization with diverse culture has been seen to make team members feel their contribution in a manner that is more worthwhile and meaningful. This assists greatly towards improvement of diversity climate hence accomplishment of organization objectives.
It is also crucial for various organizations to initiate diversity training programs as illustrated by Perkins, (2006, p. 60). Leaders and managers in organizations should be trained on how to manage and understand culturally diversified employees. Employees as well should be provided with adequate training on the importance of understanding people with different cultures. This will greatly assist in improving the differences that arise when people of different cultures work together. Training is crucial towards the breakdown of stereotypes as well as reducing prejudicial attitudes among the team members. Mentoring and networks are other effective ways towards improvement of the diversity climate. Mentors usually provide recognition, support, and challenge in order to assist in shaping the future for those individuals they are assisting. Mentors are in most occasions beneficial mainly because it assists in keeping minorities on the track. It also assists in keeping them focused within any culturally diversified organization. Networking is also another crucial process that assists organizations in managing the cultural diversity within the teams. Networking acts as a source of encouragement and support to various employees with diversified cultural differences.
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It is also crucial for organizations to strength top-management commitment towards creating a positive diversity climate within the organization. This commitment should be distributed even to the lowest management levels. All managers at every level within an organization should openly and strongly support all policies, strategies, and practices that support the management of culture diversity. This will greatly assist towards reducing culture diversification related challenges within an organization. It will assist in improving and increasing the benefits associated with culture diversity.
Cultural differences that face multicultural teams may not necessary attribute to diversity challenges. However, these differences underlay the problems that require to be addressed in various teams in organizations. Cultural diversity may not only have negative effects on the working of a team, but they may result to problems in management as well. If any organization's management intervenes early in any cultural challenge within the organization, this may lead to good resolution of the problem. Organization's management should set up norms; structure social interaction as well as engaging all people within the team in solving problems arising due to cultural difference. Managing cultural diversity well has various benefits that are associated with it. Effective management of cultural diversity usually results to organizational benefits or success. Organizations with an effective managed multi-culture have a cost effective competitive edge. It also results to the promotion of minority friendly reputation among prospective employees. Organization with good management of cultural diversity usually results to an increased flexibility and adaptability in case of any environmental changes. Effective management of culture diversity will assist in improving and increasing the benefits associated with culture diversity.