One of the greatest benefits of having a global team is the opportunities it brings as a result of cultural diversity. Within the workplace, diversity has consistently been shown to positively impact an organization. Inherently, cultural differences lead to diversity in perspectives and experiences. Managing a global team allows you to bring together new and different ideas, perspectives, and approaches to problem-solving, peer interactions, and possibilities as a whole. Thus, expanding into the global market and tapping into global talent may be a good choice if you want to create an innovative workplace and develop a stand-out corporate culture. According to Glassdoor, 77% of adults surveyed across four countries indicated they evaluate a company’s mission and culture before applying for a job. So, what are you doing to build a strong corporate culture amongst your global team?
In this article, we share insights into why more companies are developing international teams, the benefits of cultural differences within an organization, and activities to effectively manage a global team by embracing cultural differences.
What Is A Global Team?
A global team is a group of individuals from different countries and cultural backgrounds who work together towards a common goal or objective within a single organization. Global teams may be entirely virtual or have members located in different physical locations around the world. They may provide business to a localized market or offer services to people in different parts of the globe. Thanks to the rapid expansion of technology, global teams can more easily and effectively collaborate using digital tools and communication softwares.
Why Are More Companies Developing Global Teams?
Global teams are becoming increasingly common in today’s interconnected world, as businesses and organizations seek to expand their reach and tap into diverse talent pools. According to a 2019 survey conducted by Globalization Partners, 84% of respondents indicated they worked on a global team. Much of this is a result of expanding technology, making it feasible to build and manage a successful global team. For example, video conferencing software, project management tools, instant messaging apps and cloud storage make effective teamwork possible despite the physical distance between team members.
Although global teams can now be more easily built, managing global teams can be challenging. Challenges result from differences in time zones, languages, communication styles, and cultural norms. Thus, effective leadership, clear communication, and a shared sense of purpose are essential for global teams to succeed.
If you are in the process of building a global team or considering if it is the right fit for you and your organization, I discuss how to build and manage a successful global team in a previous blog.
Benefits Of Cultural Differences Among Global Teams
Global teams benefit greatly from embracing the diversity that comes from cultural differences in several ways:
- Diverse perspectives: Members of a global team bring their unique cultural, social, and professional experiences to the team, resulting in a rich tapestry of ideas, opinions, and perspectives. This diversity can help the team approach problems from multiple angles and generate innovative solutions.
- Increased creativity: A team composed of members with different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures can help spark creativity and innovation. It can lead to the development of new and unique ideas that may not have emerged if the team was homogeneous.
- Broader skillset: A global team often has members with different skill sets, knowledge, and expertise that can complement each other. This can lead to a more comprehensive and effective approach to problem-solving and decision-making.
- Improved communication: Being exposed to different communication styles can enhance a team’s ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and non-verbally. It can lead to better understanding and respect for each other’s ideas, which can help build a stronger team.
- Global perspective: A global team can provide a broader perspective on issues that affect people from different cultures and regions. This can lead to a better understanding of global markets, trends, and consumer needs, which can help the team make informed decisions and develop strategies that take into account cultural differences.
Activities To Embrace Cultural Diversity When Managing a Global Team
While the benefits may be clear, it’s not necessarily easy to know how you can actively embrace cultural differences amongst a global team. By intentionally providing opportunities to learn about the various cultures of team members, you can create a better sense of one-ness and build a strong corporate culture for individuals and an organization to thrive.
Here are some virtual activities you can facilitate when managing a global team to embrace cultures and promote team development:
- Cultural Awareness Training: Organize a cultural awareness training session where team members can develop an understanding and appreciation of different cultures and ways of life. The training typically involves learning about the values, beliefs, customs, and traditions of different cultures, as well as understanding how these cultural differences may impact communication (cultural etiquette, customs, and taboos), behaviour and work styles, and decision-making.
- Cultural Show and Tell: Ask team members to prepare a short presentation about their culture and share it with the rest of the team. This can include stories, photos, videos, or artifacts that represent their cultural heritage which can lead to new ideas and ways of thinking.
- Language Learning: Encourage team members to learn a few phrases in each other’s languages. This can help build bridges between team members and make communication more effective. It can also be a great tool for creativity; learning about new communication styles, idioms, common phrases, and metaphors, can lead to new ideas and spur creativity.
- Cultural Diversity Discussion: Organize a discussion where team members can share their experiences of working in a global team and talk about cultural differences they have encountered. This can help build empathy and understanding of each other’s perspectives which helps produce more collaborative work environments.
- Virtual Team-Building Activities: Conduct virtual team-building activities that incorporate cultural diversity. This can include playing games, solving puzzles, or participating in challenges that require team members to work together and leverage each other’s strengths.
These virtual activities can help global teams embrace diversity and cultural differences, build understanding and respect for different cultures, and promote team development. Not only is cohesion important for an organization’s success, it’s also central to employee well-being.
Embracing cultural differences in a global team brings a multitude of benefits that contribute to output and are essential for building a more inclusive and productive working environment. By recognizing and valuing the unique contributions of each team member, organizations can foster a culture of respect and collaboration that leads to success for everyone involved. Leaders must prioritize cultural competence and intercultural communication skills to effectively harness the power of diversity and achieve long-term success.
Director Of Talent Development
Amela manages Jarvis’ Talent Incubation Program, which identifies and develops high-potential individuals for technical positions in various Canadian organizations. The program also helps companies build a more stable and high-quality talent pipeline with an emphasis on diversity.
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Jarvis is a leading IT consulting firm headquartered in Canada that provides total talent solutions with ongoing partnerships across North America’s top financial institutions, cutting-edge startups, and major technology companies.
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