When doing international business, it is a priority to strategize how the company will integrate into new cultures. This is when the assistance of an experienced cultural consultant is advised.
In this article, we will discuss some of the barriers existing in global workplaces, and how a multicultural consulting company can help break them down.
Cultural Consulting and Global Expansion
Apart from the literal comprehension of a different language, some obstacles include:
• Keeping values consistent – When people come together in the workplace, they should follow the same core principles to serve common goals. This is difficult when there is a different approach to the same values.
• Understanding shared terminology – Wrongly assuming that a particular industry term is universally known, might cause mistakes that could be avoided with better communication.
• Problematic subculture interactions – There can even be cultural differences intra-company, between certain groups: subordinate-manager, specialist-novice, gender-gender, or among individuals within these groups having trouble understanding and working with each other.
• Etiquette differences – What is funny or serious to one culture may be the opposite in another. With different cultures in the same work environment, tensions can mount, and disagreements can occur.
The Effect on Project Management and Workflow
Workplace diversity can stimulate creativity and innovation, making the environment rich and interesting. Sharing perspectives educates people about each other, fostering respect and inclusion.
On the other hand, people with blended backgrounds who are working closely together can encounter a meeting of differences. To keep a project from suffering, it is important to recognize a few key cultural elements.
Key Cultural Factors to Consider
Internal and external teams are conditioned to behaviors by their own respective cultures, and may not have experience in working closely with someone from a different upbringing.
#1 Direct vs. Passive Personalities
- A direct personality might positively impact a team and project, or a more passive one could incite low morale. Conversely, an overbearing temperament may push people away. A softer touch might embolden others to contribute. It is important to know which qualities motivate best within each multicultural team.
#2 Non-verbal Communication
• In certain cultures, it is customary to shake hands. In others, a slight nod or other non-physical form of greeting is appropriate. Not knowing these differences can be awkward or even offensive to the parties involved.
#3 Conflict Resolution
• How are disputes handled? Some societies avoid controversy—perhaps calmly conceding, or claiming a silent victory. Others meet it head-on, engaging in spirited debate until there is a mutual resolution.
#4 Communication Patterns
• Cultures have different approaches to conversation. Some like to cushion their speech to be more indirect, addressing a room rather than an individual. Another team member might be accustomed to speaking directly and frankly.
#5 Work Ethic and Expectations
• Some people work from sunrise to sunset, and labor every day of the week. Then there are cultures who nap during the workday, and feel that working only a few hours is more productive. It is important to find common ground among these varied working styles for a project to have any chance of getting accomplished.
What Is a Cultural Consultant?
A cultural consultant is not only trained in linguistic services, but specializes in working with various cultures. Knowledgeable in language and regional nuances, the consultant can also navigate the cultural complexities of the business environment.
Additionally, the cultural consultant can help provide market analysis and other valuable services from brand awareness to audience engagement, and more.
How Do I Know if I Need One?
If your company works with people from different backgrounds of political and religious views and customs, chances are you need to engage a cultural consultant to ease the transition. They will help you learn about people on an individual level, rather than generalizations based on stereotypes to anticipate how someone will behave or react.
How Can a Cultural Consultant Help?
A multicultural consulting services company can:
• Make cultural sensitivity a priority
• Highlight commonalities among team members
• Facilitate cultural necessities, such as:
o Access to private prayer rooms
o Accommodating cultural cuisine requirements
• Offer solutions to bridge gaps in communicating ideas
• Urge team to appreciate each other’s differences, and avoid prejudices.
If coordination among the various participants is smooth, the crew organized, and the project managed well—efficiency and creativity will be enhanced, and productivity will flourish.
Translation, Localization, and Cultural Consultation
To thrive in an unfamiliar environment, international businesses need guidance for making informed, intelligent decisions for a path to ensured longevity. Hiring consulting firms to help make those decisions is a wise practice in general—and especially important when those decisions involve crossing international and cultural borders.
Cultural consultants need the support of translation and localization services to perform at their best. Future Trans is a company of experts in the field of multicultural consulting.
Contact us and one of our representatives will get back to you.