How to get the best from a multicultural team

A new CIPD report focuses on the opportunities and challenges of managing a multicultural team and highlights how to make them more effective.

Team work, employees

Picture credit: KROMKRATHOG and

Understanding your team’s values, attitudes, styles of working and communicating effectively can help employers to bring out the best in a multicultural team, according to a new report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development [CIPD].

The report, Managing multicultural teams, says that the benefits multicultural teams can bring to business are numerous as long as leaders, particularly line managers, provide inclusive environments and careful management of their people.

That means addressing any challenges teams might face. Based on online focus groups with managers from three different global regions (the UK, Middle East and Asia-Pacific) the report highlights three main areas which are important: communication, openness & patience and remote working.

Openness & Patience within a multicultural team

When it comes to openness and patience, it emphasises being sensitive to demographic differences, values, attitudes and experiences; encouraging employees to get to know each other on a personal and professional level; suspending judgement about others until you’ve gathered enough information; avoiding a blanket approach to managing different people; and treating people in a way that caters to their unique, individual needs.

Communication challenges

It says communication challenges can be addressed by using meetings to raise awareness of language barriers  ; nudging ‘code-switchers’ back to the shared language; talking with team members to see what can be done to promote better communication; highlighting the achievements of each team member in meetings; and listening out for cultural nuances of communication from team members.

Remote working

Employers can make the most of remote working by encouraging the use of rich media like video-conferencing; building awareness of the best intervals to meet when working across time zones; getting to know the communication preferences of your people; and finding creative ways to bring the team together for catch-ups and hangouts.

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