We are quickly becoming a multi-cultural workforce – a true kaleidoscope nation that looks and acts differently. You’ll find a thousand different faces with difference values and behaviors.
A short time ago, our “melting pot” model called for assimilation where all flavors were diluted. But today, things are different. We dare to be unique and proud of the diverse heritage and the values we bring from our communities to our offices each day. It’s freeing and it’s creative. We no longer need to be constrained to a singular way of looking or acting.
I don’t know about you, but it feels refreshing not to be locked into a rigid Western European analytic model of management and decision-making. The kind of model that rewarded the individual by fostering competition and recognizing the paradigm of “Pulling oneself up by the bootstraps.”
I personally get very excited observing and watching other cultural styles that focus on the team, the group, and the community. They acknowledge and attribute success to the collective effort, not to the lone “rock star” where one person is the hero.
Call it synergy, call it UBUNTU, call it the sum is greater than the parts, this new model lends itself to innovation and more robust problem-solving and productivity – maybe even more joy in the workplace. But this requires a willingness to let go of the old American way of getting ahead with individual hard work and discipline. It demands a more ego-less approach and attitude, focusing on the communal success.
Yes, it’s now time to be humble and consider collectivism over individualism. So here a few tips to get you going on a path using multi-cultural values in the workplace: Some of you may already be familiar with these ideas, but I challenge you to truly put them into practice today- not just cognitively think about them.
1. We all know about the power of brainstorming, but managers still ask people to go off by themselves to come up with a solution. How about brainstorming as a group, then move to individual contemplation by a number of people, and then a final third step of reviewing once more as a group to reach the solution?
2. Think about rewarding and incentivizing people as teams versus individual contributions. This approach immediately shifts the paradigm and generates team work and superior innovation.
3. Ensure diversity in your teams – when possible include different cultures and perspectives in the thinking. You will experience vastly different approaches. Case in point is marketing… where Anglos show health as an individual running on a path, while Latinos, show a family taking a hike together – and often with three generations.
4. Hang out with people from different cultures – be open to values not so "waspish" but focus on the family, the neighborhood, the community—it’s about “the other” and not always about “me.” Think how refreshing it might be to not have to prove yourself but reap the rewards of a collective sense of belonging and contributions to the whole.
HCollaborative offers workshops in "Cultural Competency", to help you learn more about the values and communication styles of diverse communities. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org