Managing a remote team whose members have different cultural backgrounds is a tough job and requires special skills. Sometimes even the most experienced managers fail to lead people having different values and beliefs, and there are many examples of problems arising in virtual project teams due to the lack of skills required for working with cross-cultural teams.
Culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization. It is the soul of an organization and has a huge impact on its success.
1. Recognize That Cultural Differences Exist
If you want to manage cultural awareness in your team effectively, the first thing you have to do is understand that virtual team members with different backgrounds can have different beliefs, values, attitudes, and ways of doing things.
2. Have a Deep Knowledge of How Other Cultures Work
As a remote project manager, you must have an understanding of the work ethics of other cultures. It will help you know what motivates different team members. For example, people from France can have an entirely different approach to complete a task compared to people from China.
3. Talk to Your Team
If your team consists of members from different organizations, try to learn about the culture in their previous organizations. Talk to them about how they were rewarded, how did the decision-making process work, etc. This way you will know what they expect from you and it will help you lead the team effectively.
4. Educate Your Remote Team about Cultural Differences
As a manager, it is your responsibility to educate your team to respect each other’s’ beliefs and values. If your team members recognize that cultural differences exist, they will trust the way you operate. The teams that succeed have thought through the technological, cultural and organizational issues and found solutions of dealing with them.
5. Think before Making Assumptions
All cultures share some common elements, so when you are managing a cross-cultural team, it is very important to evaluate any assumption you make about the culture. Ask yourself: is the assumption valid, and make decisions accordingly.
6. Appreciate Cultural Diversity
Use the cultural differences as your team’s strength by making your team appreciate the fact that they get to learn about different customs and values.
7. Build Trust with Your Team Members
Develop a healthy relationship with your team so that they trust you and make them realize that you all share a common goal and mission. This will let you freely discuss how the cultural differences might be affecting an issue.
Now that you know what skills are important to manage cultural awareness in a remote team, try to evaluate yourself to see if you have all these skills and if you are actually using these as a remote project manager.
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