Already on ArticleSlash?

Forgot your password? Sign Up

How to embrace cross-cultural differences during a project

Julie Lord

Visitors: 86

Work is increasingly being conducted on a global basis. Nowadays, most project managers have to contend with integrating remote workers into their project team. This presents a unique set of difficulties; from dealing with different time zones to adapting to the different ways people work. One of the most challenging aspects of working with such a team is managing cross-cultural differences, and below we have put together some top tips to help you do so.

  • Break the ice with a little bit of humour – Humour is one of the best ways to get people to open up and relax. Of course, you need to make sure you incorporate humour the right way. Adding a joke to the end of every sentence isn’t going to go down well.

    Also, be mindful that different cultures find different things funny. A lot of people find English humour difficult because of the heavy sarcasm we seem to love. If you notice that your humour does not seem to be going down too well, simply explain it.

  • Don’t ignore those who are quiet – There are a lot of cultures whereby people are more aggressive and vocal in their approach. They have no trouble with expressing themselves during meetings, and this can often lead to them dominating the discussions. You need to ensure there is a balance, as not all cultures are like this.

    Some are more passive and quiet, and they may sit throughout a meeting without saying a word. However, it is critical that you get their input. You do not need to call them out during the meeting.

    Instead, make an effort to seek their opinion away from a larger group. There are many different collaboration tools and technologies available today that give you the ability to capture feedback and comments from those in your team. This will give the quieter team members and equal chance to be heard.

  • Don’t assume that everything you say is understood – It is likely that there are going to be members of your team that are not native English speakers. As much as you try to use shorter words, you should never assume that they are going to understand what you have said. This is why it is important to get your team members to recap the assignments you have given them before you end a meeting or a call.

    This will ensure they have understood everything and, if they haven’t, you can explain again. It also gives them a chance to ask any questions they have.

  • Learn about each other – Last but not least, make an effort to learn about all team members on your team. You will never be able to truly embrace someone else’s culture if you do not ask about it. For example, you can ask why your colleagues get more or less time off work during a certain period, or you can enquire about a public holiday that you are unfamiliar with.

If you follow the four tips that have been mentioned above, you should find it a lot easier to manage cultural differences in your project team. This is something that is increasingly being introduced into project management training courses due to the global nature of work today.

project management training courses

Article Source:

Rate this Article: 
Leading Virtual Cross Cultural Teams
Rated 4 / 5
based on 5 votes

Related Articles:

Cultural Differences in a Multicultural Organization

by: Deborah Swallow (February 19, 2013) 
(Business/Workplace Communication)

Cultural Differences When Writing For Children

by: Hal Granum (January 12, 2007) 
(Writing and Speaking)

Cross Cultural Understanding and Training

by: Deborah Swallow (August 22, 2012) 
(Business/Workplace Communication)

Ten Cross Cultural Marketing Blunders

by: Deborah Swallow (September 24, 2012) 

Halloween In A Cross-Cultural Perspective

by: Oliver Harding (March 18, 2008) 
(Home and Family/Holidays)

Cultural Differences: A Franco-German Wedding

by: Deborah Swallow (December 28, 2011) 
(Business/Customer Service)

Hispanic and American Cultural Differences and Contrasts

by: Rich Kimura (February 13, 2007) 
(Arts and Entertainment)

Music In Cultural Differences - Multicultural Marketing

by: Cindy King (February 12, 2008) 
(Business/Small Business)

Romanian Cultural Differences - A Blessing Or A Curse?

by: Peter Finch (January 25, 2008) 

Leading Virtual Cross Cultural Teams

by: Deborah Swallow (October 10, 2012) 
(Self Improvement/Leadership)