Staffing Management

Dear Workforce How Do We Equip a New Leader to Manage a Multicultural Team?

By Staff Report

May. 18, 2010

Dear Diversity Dilemma:

We are a little uncertain whether your manager needs leadership skills, greater aptitude for dealing effectively with a multicultural team, or both. Let’s take them one at a time; but first you should ask this person which type of help he feels might be needed to prepare for this assignment.

If the project represents this person’s first foray into a leadership role, you should be looking for some good, near-term opportunities to quickly ramp up his leadership skills prior to beginning the dam project. Some possibilities:

1. Let him co-pilot (or at least observe) another project team for a while with a skilled, veteran project manager.

2. Following a rigorous assessment of this individual’s leadership competencies (e.g., communications, decisiveness, problem solving, etc.), get him some skill-specific training from a reputable provider.

3. Consider hiring an executive coach to work with him beginning now, and continuing deep into the project. Make sure that the areas of emphasis and expected outcomes are clearly prescribed.

If you’re more concerned with his ability to work cross-culturally than his leadership skills per se, here are a few options:

1. Get him some quick, immersive exposure to the cultures of the principal homelands of his new teammates. If lead time permits, have him go live in a couple of those countries for a month. (“Living there” doesn’t mean camping in a four-star hotel on an expense report. Go there, get a job for a couple of weeks, and learn what it’s really like.) At a minimum, he will come away with something more in common with his new teammates.

2. At the very least, get him tutored in Swahili, the other (besides English) dominant language of Kenya.

3. The ability to be effective on a diverse team hinges on one’s ability (and willingness) to listen, really listen, as much as anything else. Get him some specific help in this area.

Finally, one thing that falls a little outside of this individual’s development, but is vital nonetheless, has to do with the quality and characteristics of his boss. This fellow is taking on a difficult and important project in a place far from home. Make sure that he is working for someone who is also up for the task—someone who knows and understands him, is willing to support him no matter what, and has the energy to go the distance with him.

Good luck. We wish him and you well.

SOURCE: Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette, co-authors, Contented Cows MOOve Faster, April 26, 2010

LEARN MORE: Companies sometimes use special onboarding initiatives to help leaders adjust to their expanded roles.

Workforce Management Online, May 2010Register Now!

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

Ask a Question
Dear Workforce Newsletter

About Workforce.com

blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

HR Administration

Rest and lunch break laws in every US state

Summary Federal law does not require meal or rest breaks Some states have laws requiring meal and rest ...

workforce blog

Staffing Management

What is labor forecasting?

Summary Labor forecasting helps businesses determine where, when, what kind, and how many employees are...

demand forecasting, labor forecasting, labor modeling, staffing

workforce blog

Staffing Management

How staffing agencies can better manage a remote workforce

Summary As remote work continues its rise, modern workforce management technology is being adopted – st...

remote employees, scheduling, staffing, time and attendance management