Multiculturalism at Work: Great Tips to Take Note When Working with Global Team Members

Managing Global Teams can be both challenging and frustrating at times. Here are a few tips to manage and motivate global team members.

SG, Singapore, May 14, 2007 --( Nicholas Goh, Executive Director of Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd, a leading provider of Translation and Localization services, is pleased to provide the following tips, which will help businesses better manage multicultural teams.

The modern workplace is a borderless one. Globalisation has opened up vistas of potential partnerships and collaborations around the world. Supply chains span entire continents and project management teams comprise members of diverse nationalities and backgrounds.

Managers then find themselves with a tough mandate as they are plunged into a merry cacophony of culturally-informed behavioural patterns, ranging from communication styles to decision-making processes.

Indeed, multicultural teams often pose frustrating managerial dilemmas. Cultural differences present marked hurdles to effective teamwork--but these are often subtle and difficult to recognise until significant damage has been done. These ostensibly mundane working problems among team members will prevent them from realising the very gains they were set up to harvest, such as familiarity with different product markets and culturally sensitive customer service.

The challenge in managing multicultural teams effectively is to recognise underlying cultural causes of conflict and to intervene in ways that set strategic objectives for the team and empower its members to deal with future challenges that might arise.

1. Differing Modes of Communication

The most prominent challenge that can arise from multicultural teams is ambiguity and murkiness in communications. Different cultures have differing styles of communication. In general, westernised cultures favour direct and explicit means of communication. Crucial information about the other party's preferences and priorities can be gleamed via asking direct questions. Other cultures may not be as vocal and forward in expressing their opinions. These cultures favour an indirect means of communication where meaning is embedded in the way the message is presented. Negotiators will then have to infer preferences and priorities from changes--or the lack of changes--in the other party's business proposal.

Such uncertainty is detrimental to the health of any business. When team projects run into trouble, a member's unwitting approach to the problem may violate the other's norms for uncovering and fixing glitches in the programme. This can cause serious damage to relationships, resulting in isolation and alienation of key team members, restricted information access and the generation of interpersonal conflicts.

2. Linguistic Proficiency

The most obvious and practical means would be to implement a highly selective evaluation process. Personally, Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd is one example of a purveyor of Translation and Localization Services. It is important that a criterion for selection be proficiency in the language.

Suppliers and partners need to be impeccable in their command of the language, since this serves as a direct gauge to the standards of translations they are able to provide.

Even for firms not in the Language industry, other than the profiles, past projects and achievements, linguistic competence should be considered when settling on a partnering organisation or a supplier. Having this criterion will help reduce misunderstandings that result from incomprehension and misinterpretation.

3. Open Communications

One way to prevent such complications from arising is by fostering open communications. In Verztec, our Project Managers value and are receptive to the output of individual members. Verztec Team members also need to be amendable to each other's perspectives and viewpoints so that members do not have misgivings about vocalising their opinions. Misinterpretations can then be nipped in the bud and addressed, before they develop into full-fledged disasters.

4. Active Feedback Loops

To rein in divergent segments of the business cycle, Verztec Project Managers consolidate and centralise core processes while receiving rigorous feedback from the periphery.

Follow-up supervisory feedback from managers overseeing global outsourced teams is instrumental in evaluating and determining the efficiency and rapport of team members. Members can then be provided with clear guidelines to be assessed on their abilities to act upon initiatives and deliver relevant and profitable solutions. Such collaborative experiences will allow managers and team members alike to be familiarised with cultural issues while adhering to neutral and objective operational procedures.


With the advent of globalisation, businesses can adroitly capitalise on worldwide opportunities to reduce costs and enhance productivity. Nevertheless, they need to possess the sensitivity and expertise to weather the potential complications that might arise from such collaborations.

Nicholas Goh is the Executive Director of Verztec Consulting Pte Ltd, a provider of Translation and Localization services. For more information on Verztec's services, please visit their site at

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