Multicultural teams normally create management dilemmas that are frustrating. The difference in cultures can develop substantial hindrance to the effective teamwork. Such hindrance can be subtle as well as hard to point out unless there has been significant damage caused. In this case, the involved manager says that managers may increase more problems as they try to resolve through intervention. The effective managing multicultural teams challenge is to acknowledge cultural underlying conflict causes, as well as intervene in means that both provide the teams backtrack and members' empowerment to counter future challenges.
The case study on a main international software developer company presents a good illustration on managing multicultural team's challenges with the introduction of a new requirement of a quick production of a new product. The disagreements and differing opinions by the different teams are as a result of the cultural difference of the employees, that is those from America and India. The disagreement is on the achievement of a certain products delivery date, where the American has a view that the work is doable in two to three weeks whereas the Indian teams think it may take longer, about two to three months. This is some of the conflicts caused by cultural differences may be a hindrance and influence teamwork (Behfar 239). This is because the conflict is personalized preventing the fluent communication of the members, even at crucial issues that they should have otherwise consulted each other. The interview with the manager reveals that managers faced with such a challenge always have a hard time, attempting to resolve and deal with such challenges and try to bring both teams to term, focusing on the main project.
There are four categories of challenges creating the barriers to the ultimate success of teamwork (Behfar et al. 247). The first is on the difference between direct and indirect communication. This can cause very vital injuries to relationships in case projects of the teams encounter problems. It is so evident that challenges in communication create barriers that affect the teamwork by reduction of shared information and interpersonal created conflicts as brought out in the research.
There exists trouble with fluency and accents. In as much as English is recognized as the international business language, there may be the occurrence of misunderstanding with the non-native speakers' accents, fluency lack, alongside other usage or translation problems (Beyene). These affect the status or competence perceptions. Team members who are not fluent may be well skilled but may have a hard time in communicating, thus complicating their chances and abilities to apply their expertise. The other challenge is on differing attitudes towards authority and hierarchy. This is because, by design, the groups have a structure that is flat. Although some cultures of team members, where people are differently treated as per their organization status, are flat teams uncomfortable. When there is a difference with the team's member's higher-status, their behavior is seen as appropriate if most of the team originates from a hierarchical culture; although they may destroy their credibility and stature, to the level of humiliation, where some of the team originates from a culture with egalitarian. With the differing culture norm results, the members of the team believe they are treated disrespectfully, being a threat to blowing off the whole project (Tirmizi 21). In addition to this, Cultures differ very much in the decision-making process, especially on the mode of a decision and the analysis required. As a result, there is decision making challenges as a result of the conflicting norms.
On the other hand, dealing with such challenges requires strategies to deal with the problems of managing multicultural teams. They include adaption, managerial intervention, and structural intervention and exit (Behfar et al. 250). The adaptation involves finding ways and means of working with challenges with practice adaption or change of attitudes without alterations of the entire group. It works best if the members of the teams are ready to recognize and identify the differences of their culture and take responsibilities of how to relate well to each other. Structural intervention is the willing reorganization and designed reassignment to limit friction caused by interpersonal or to get rid of conflict source from a team. This method is more effective if there is the demarcation of the subgroups teams or where the members of the team have pride, threatened or cling on to stereotypes that are negative to each other.
Managerial intervention is where there is behavior by the manager to be like a judge or an arbitrator, thus has the final say and decision without further consultation with the involved team. The technique can be effective in solving managing multicultural teams' problems. Managerial intervention plays a significant role in the setting norms contributes significantly in enabling the effective process start out of the team. The last strategy is the exit. This may be possibly necessitated by short-term occurrences where dissatisfied unhappy members of the team may exit. This can be voluntarily or involuntarily, where it can be applied as the last resort. Exit normally is applied when the level of emotions is high, thus done to save the situation.
Behfar, Kristin, et al. "Managing Challenges in Multicultural Teams." Research on Managing Groups and Teams National Culture and Groups, pp. 233-262., doi:10.1016/s1534-0856(06)09010-4.
Beyene, T. (2005). Language challenges in international work: The impact of uneven proficiency in the lingua franca. Paper presented at the Academy of Managment, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Tirmizi, S. Aqeel. "The Impact of Culture in Multicultural Teams." Advances in Group Decision and Negotiation Effective Multicultural Teams: Theory and Practice, 2008, pp. 21-42., doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6957-4_2.
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