Global leadership: What you need to consider in multicultural teams

Annalena Simonis, Wednesday 16 September 2020 | Reading time: 7 min.

Globalization enables us to establish business contacts beyond our national borders. However, we often face new challenges there: Cultural differences can be a real threat to the success of your project. Here you can learn more about global management with InLoox. 

Globalization and digitalization enable us to work with employees and partners from different countries. Project and team leaders in particular are constantly faced with new challenges. Besides the obvious cultural and language barriers, virtual communication via modern information media is a special characteristic of multicultural project teams. Global and virtual team leadership inevitably overlap. In this article you will learn how to avoid misunderstandings, mistakes and conflicts in multicultural teams. 

 

1. Advantages of multicultural teams

2. Challenges - What you must be aware of

3. The solution: Virtual team leadership

4. Virtual working with InLoox

5. Conclusion

 

Advantages of multicultural teams

By building multicultural teams, talent can be recruited worldwide. This allows companies, employees and projects to benefit from the know-how of experts from all over the world. In addition, costs can be saved through virtual collaboration, for example by avoiding business trips. The distribution of employees across different time zones makes it possible to work on a project around the clock. In addition, the customer has the opportunity to contact the company at any time. The concept becomes even more attractive not only for the customer but also for the employees asworking remotely is becoming increasingly popular.

Multicultural teams also support the company in its international growth. Due to the different cultural backgrounds of the team members, the needs of the respective regional stakeholders can be better taken into account and new markets can be developed more easily. This gives the project manager a better insight into social, political or economic factors that are crucial to the company's success in the respective region. Cultural diversity also offers a valuable variety of perspectives for your project. This can have a positive effect on creativity, flexibility and problem-solving strategies. 

 

Challenges - What you must be aware of

When people from different cultures meet, great contrasts can collide. In multicultural teams, different expectations arise when it comes to project management. Different perceptions of methods, processes or practices lead to varying approaches and recommendations for solutions. However, this problem can also occur in culturally homogeneous teams. It is therefore more important to pay attention to different cultural standards, which can be seen in rooted values or rules of conduct. This often leads to the development and consolidation of different expectations of the team leader. Some team members are used to hierarchical structures, while others expect cooperation on an equal footing. This naturally carries the risk of misunderstandings. Purely virtual communication via e-mail, telephone or modern information and communication media can reinforce these barriers. In order to enable successful cooperation, the team leader therefore has a great responsibility. It is his task to create a trustful working environment that takes into account the different cultural behaviors, views and customs. At the same time he has to create a structured way of working with "invisible" team colleagues. 

 

The solution: Virtual team leadership 

Today, working in global teams is no longer possible without virtual communication and leadership. The rapid development of globalization requires an equally fast and flexible way of working. Digitalization makes it possible. Through interaction via modern information and communication media, collaboration with offices at different locations or partners can take place independently of time and place. 

Possible cultural differences can only be overcome through clear, structured and open communication. Therefore, define clear communication rules and strategies for your multicultural team and try to find a compromise between cultural requirements. Determine which channels should be used to communicate and when information is relevant for the entire team or when personal communication is the best decision. Once these rules are clearly defined and accepted by all employees, nothing stands in the way of respectful and effective cooperation. 

 

Virtual communication with InLoox

The InLoox project management software offers you many features and possibilities to professionalize your virtual and multicultural team leadership:

  • The new integration of InLoox with Microsoft Teams enables you to successfully combine project management and communication in one platform. Manage your projects directly in Teams and discuss InLoox project data easily and in real time with your colleagues and employees. Tasks, documents or project planning can be accessed via Microsoft Teams with the new InLoox app. Learn more about the InLoox now! Teams Integration here: Teams as central hub for your projects.
  • For comprehensible and transparent communication of all important project information, we recommend the notes feature on the support page in the InLoox project. All team members have access to this page and can be notified about new notes by e-mail. This function is therefore particularly suitable for setting project goals. Learn more in this blog post: How To Focus in Your Daily Work with InLoox (Part 2): Team Work
  • If your team is spread across different time zones, there can often be misunderstandings about deadlines and schedules. As an intelligent project management software, InLoox automatically adapts to the respective time zone of your device. Time specifications no longer need to be calculated and deadlines are successfully met anywhere in the world.

 

Conclusion

Leading a multicultural team can be a great challenge for project managers. In global teams, cultures that could not be more different often collide. This can cause serious problems in the cooperation. At the same time, your team has the opportunity to learn a lot from each other. For you as a project manager, however, it is difficult to find a line that all participants accept. The key is, as so often, communication. Through clear structures and rules, barriers can be broken down and common trust can be built. This creates an open communication culture that connects your employees instead of separating them even further. 

 


 

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