Expert Panel

Focus on these things to succeed in International Management

Avoiding Issues & Making the Most Out of Having a Multicultural Team


Our commercial world as we know it is becoming more and more interwoven; more and more global, and as a result we are coming more into contact with people, ideas and customs from different cultures. Due to this, workplaces are becoming more dynamic and interesting, though multicultural working environments do at times provide certain challenges for managers and team leaders to overcome. Many managers have to divert their tactics in order to accommodate for employees from different backgrounds, strategies which can be learned through providers such as nowlearning.com.au. Although this shift in working environments may appear daunting, there are actually many ways in which you can avoid potential multicultural issues and turn them into something positive.

Cunning Linguist

Although English is still the dominant commercial language, the increase in multicultural work forces means that other languages are being brought to the fray. Even if your team operates in an English-speaking country, the international nature of your business will undoubtedly include employees whose native tongue isn’t English. This may create communication problems; however the positives of having employees from different backgrounds in your team outweigh the negatives tenfold. Try and see it as a chance for you and your team to learn a new language, with non-native employees perhaps offering classes in their mother tongue in the office after work for example. This will enhance the international flavor of your enterprise, and will also bridge the cultural gaps between your colleagues.

Hierarchy and Questioning

As Westerners, we are brought up with the notion of questioning authority, and have no qualms about challenging our superiors if we think they’re wrong. However, this concept my not ring true with employees from different backgrounds. Those from an Asian background for example, are traditionally brought up with Confucian values which advise against questioning superiors regardless of their decisions. If you want your team on the same page with regard to not being afraid of voicing their opinions about the company or its management, then it’s important not to forget about this and ensure that you take steps to clarify with your employees the nature of your team in this matter.


It is important to establish an understanding of how different cultures communicate, whether it’s over voicing an idea or resolving conflict. Take steps to do some background reading regarding how the cultures of the people you work with communicate in various scenarios, and then try and establish a general status quo in your management style that accommodates everyone’s habits. It’s also important not to just assume that the tried and tested methods of communication you have relied on before will work on a multicultural team. Instead, ensure that you lay out specific groundwork for how you want communication to run in your company, and make room for letups if the concepts you’re introducing are new to some of your multicultural team members.


This comes hand in hand with the concept of background reading and cultural research being vital in ensuring that understanding and communication is crystal clear. Stereotyping people due to their background couldn’t be more detrimental to this, and it must be avoided at all costs. Thanks to things such as media depictions, we all adopt various positions and assumptions on people from other cultures and it’s very easy to generalize. This mustn’t influence your approach on managing your multicultural team however. Stereotypes by their very nature are inflated, exaggerated and generally wrong cultural generalizations that do more harm than good and will harm the workings of your team. If you’ve got a team member who’s from a culture you’re unfamiliar with, then throw all your assumptions out of the window and do some research with an objective, open-minded approach.

Cultural Team Building Activities

Often managers take the time every now and again to enhance morale and team building through the means of extra-curricular activities. This often takes the form of a paid-for trip down the bar for a few drinks. However, this option may not sound too appealing to workers from different backgrounds who may not be too enticed by these team building activities and as a result get feel left out. When you can, try and familiarize yourself with the leisure preferences of varying cultures, and see it as a chance for you and your work force to bond and learn more through the mixing up of end-of-month work parties. Take your team out to a cultural dance or show, or even head down to a karaoke bar for a change.



Have you ever made assumptions based on your own culture that led to embarrassing moments overseas?