Intercultural Team Building

Internal business structures have been radically transformed over the past few decades. Changes in areas such as communication and transportation technology and shifts towards global interdependency have resulted in companies becoming increasingly international and therefore intercultural.

In addition, the need to ‘go global’ and to cut outgoings is demanding that companies combine protecting international interests whilst keeping down staff numbers. The solution in most cases has been the forming of intercultural teams.

As with all businesses, success depends upon effective cooperation and communication within teams. The intercultural dimension of today’s teams however brings with it new challenges. Successful team building not only involves the traditional needs to harmonise personalities but also languages, cultures, ways of thinking, behaviours and motivations.

Intercultural teams have an inherent disadvantage. Cultural differences can lead to communication problems, unpredictability, low team cohesion, mistrust, stress and eventually poor results. However, intercultural teams can in fact be very positive entities. The combination of different perspectives, views and opinions can lead to an enhanced quality of analysis and decision making while team members develop new skills in global awareness and intercultural communication.

In reality this best case scenario is seldom witnessed. More often than not, intercultural teams do not fulfil their potential. The root cause for this is that when intercultural teams are formed, people with different frameworks of understanding are brought together and expected to naturally gel. Without a common framework of understanding, for example in matters such as status, decision making, communication etiquette, this is very difficult and thus necessitates outside help to commix the team.

Intercultural or cross cultural training is one method of helping to blend a team together. Through analysis of the cultures involved in a team, their particular approaches to communication and business and how the team interacts, intercultural team builders are able to find, suggest and use common ground to assist team members in building harmonious relationships.

Intercultural training sessions look at helping a team to realise their differences and similarities in areas such as status, hierarchy, decision making, conflict resolution, showing emotion and relationship building. These are then used to create mutually agreed upon structures of communication and interaction. From this basis, teams are then tutored how to recognise future communication difficulties and their cultural roots, empowering the team to become more self reliant. The end result is a more cohesive and productive team.

In conclusion, for intercultural teams to succeed, managers and HR personnel need to be attuned to the need for intercultural training to help cultivate harmonious relationships. Companies must be supportive, proactive and innovative if they wish to reap the potential benefits intercultural teams can offer. This goes beyond financing and creating technological links to bring together intercultural teams at surface level and going back to basics by fostering better interpersonal communication. If international businesses are to grow and prosper in this ever contracting world, intercultural synergy must be a priority.

Five Things You Are Messing Up in Team Building

There are a number of reasons why nearly every organization encourages teamwork. Research has proven that team building activities offer a good platform for companies to enhance high-impact learning, improve communication, boost employee morale and enhance overall productivity. Workers who embrace teamwork usually benefit by enjoying a sense of satisfaction in functioning a single unit to complete potentially challenging organizational tasks. What’s more, team building gives employees an opportunity to go back to the office with the new skill set and feeling reinvigorated as well.

It is also critical to mention that researchers have proven that having a strong team can potentially result in major gains for both small and established businesses. These long-term gains may include an organization’s ability to maximize profitability by enabling individual employees to better combine their skills to achieve improved results, being able to respond reasonably quickly to rapid structural changes, meeting cross-functional challenges. Team building provides an ideal chance for teams to participate together in a world where each one begins with an equal amount of knowledge about a given task. Equally, team building allows workers to become mission-oriented, a phenomenon that makes them achieve ideal results with minimum resources.

Most organizations will confirm to you that team building is always a daunting task to accomplish. It not only requires an experienced managerial team but dedication, sacrifices, time and energy. Even some of the best companies out there periodically make mistakes when dealing with people. In fact, it is quite common to find companies treating employees like kids and then ask why such workers so frequently fail to fulfil their potentials. What’s more, a significant number of organizations usually invest untold energy and massive resources in actions which ensure workers are unhappy! It is important for organizations to find effective ways of exhausting all the available strengths and abilities of people they employ.

Today in this post, we want to discuss in excruciating details, the five things organizations usually mess up in team building. Read on and enhance your knowledge.

5. Is your organization lacking leadership?

Quite often, discussions about team building revolve around effective communication, sharing a common goal and solving complex business problems. Even though these three factors are absolutely essential, one key factor which is often ignored is leadership! To come up with a strong and successful team, your employees must trust your judgment because this is when they will work efficiently even when you are not available. Of course, this doesn’t imply that you’ll have to be authoritative, instead, focus on fostering trust through humility, transparency, accountability, and honesty. If you didn’t know, it is too easy to dodge responsibility in team settings because you can easily hide in your sea of colleagues. This is where a leader comes in. In organizational settings, true leaders usually take full responsibility for a group’s final results. This means that the leader will be highly motivated to keep members accountable for their every action.

4. Neglecting your workers’ input.

This is a huge mistake a number of organizations do. Apparently, firms must connect team building with critical business drivers. Equally, you must set clear and achievable goals. However, organizations must understand that teams consist of human beings who have personal and different development needs which when fulfilled can potentially enhance the overall efficiency. Research has shown that focusing on the individual needs of a team strengthens your organization as a unit. On the other hand, putting much emphasis on the objectives of your business will only lead to short-lived benefits but does not foster sustainable development due to ineffective teamwork.

3. Unrealistic organizational objectives.

To create a strong and focused team, you must first set clear goals and share with them your objectives. Explain to your team members what you expect of them. Many businesses usually fail to set realistic goals thus leaving employees figuring out the likely outcomes. Set your goals according to your potential. Carry out an analysis of your available resources, assess the ability of your staff and set clear and achievable goals. To create a functional and reliable team, you must set clear goals and inform your employees about those goals. When every worker knows what is expected of her/him, teamwork becomes a success!

2. Failing to seek the opinions of your employees.

The key to team building is to understand and embrace this term: None of us is as smart as all of us’. Teams enable individuals to achieve things far much beyond every member’s individual potential. Bring every team member on board by asking for their ideas, opinions and suggestions. Equally, you should be able to implement those continuous improvement suggestions and empower them as well. Finally, you must provide relevant feedbacks regarding whether those ideas were implemented or rejected. Always make decisions after asking your team members for their input.

1. Failing to celebrate successes while acknowledging failures.

Recognizing and celebrating your business successes and milestones not only brings your team together but allows your employees to realize that people can achieve great things by working as a team. Learn to congratulate a team member who does something extraordinary. This helps members to feel visible and loved and acknowledge that their contribution is appreciated. On the other hand, if your team fails, come together and direct your thoughts and efforts at solving the problem. Remain positive and never turn your team discussion into a blame game. If you want your team building journey to become successful, you must avoid these five things at all cost.

ABC’s Of Team Building – U Is For Uniqueness

A major issue in teams is that not everyone’s unique ability is recognized, or if it is, it is not necessarily utilized. Sometimes it is not an ability that one would think could be used in a professional setting, but in reality, many of our unique abilities can be beneficial in multiple ways. As an example, if an employee is very good at doing puzzles, there is a high probability that they are the one who can figure out how to fix the copier or determine a solution to other problems. Not only can they put pieces together, but they are patient and methodical, which can be very helpful in some professional situations.

Alternatively, a person who sings in a band on the weekends may be very good at coaching others on how to speak in public effectively. This individual has to be attuned to the others in the band in terms of melody, harmony, etc. so if this person is asked to be on a panel, they will be very good at interacting with the other panelists versus people talking over each and not “orchestrating” a flow of information to the audience.

Leaders need to understand all the facets of a team member which is time-consuming and is not perceived as necessary by some. Some believe team building exercises are a waste of time, but what they really do is give employees the opportunities to reveal parts of themselves in non-threatening ways. This is especially true for those who are shy and don’t usually speak up. By asking everyone a question like “what is your favorite meal?”, people start to open up not just about menu selection but they may say more like “I enjoy a really good steak when I go out to eat with friends” or “When we go to my mother’s house every Sunday for dinner, we eat lasagna which is my favorite meal of the week”.

Needless to say the types of exercises and/or questions can’t put people in awkward situations so it is necessary to stay away from sensitive topics. Some team building exercises are Two Truths and a Lie, Birthday Line Up (line up by month and day but can’t talk while doing it), Shoe Tower (each team makes a tower with their shoes and the winner is the one who has the tallest tower), and What Super Hero You Would Be and Why? You could also have a container of questions and each team member picks one and answers it. Some questions could be “What is your favorite book or movie and why?”, “What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?”, “What animal would you be and why?” and “Do you prefer red or blue?”.

The point of all of this is to get to understand others in a different way. You may know too much about some team members, so it is important to take the time to learn about the others. I have always followed some advice from a former boss in that you can learn something from every person you meet. This can include learning how not to behave in a certain way, but the fun is in the exploration so make an effort for every team member and the leader to take the time to try some of these activities.