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Challenges in managing cross-cultural teams

October 13, 2015

You are running a project or preparing a complex negotiation. The team you have assembled is cross-cultural, reflecting the various areas of skill and knowledge you need to ensure success. Suddenly you become aware of tensions within the team due to differing religious beliefs and attitudes. What should you do?

This is a topic discussed by attorney Tim Garrett in a series of articles “Is your workplace the new battleground for culture wars?” Tim offers some suggested guidance for those finding themselves in such a situation and points to the potential liability that organizations face if they fail to act in such situations.

IACCM research (available through the IACCM website) has shown the growing frequency of situations where contracts and commercial staff operate in multi-cultural teams, both within their national organization and on international activities. A growing number of countries are legislating to protect the diversity of opinions and behaviors related to race, sexual orientation and religion. As the article shows, this places real pressures on any supervisor or manager dealing with a diverse team. Our research indicates that few IACCM members have received any formal training in this area and that many employees feel there is a lack of sensitivity and inclusiveness in cross-cultural teams.

While Tim Garrett’s articles are written from a US perspective, the principles are increasingly important and valid internationally – and are also important if we want to ensure high performing teams. It’s yet another of the areas about which today’s commercial experts must be aware and vigilant – and indeed a topic included in IACCM’s new Advanced Training Curriculum.

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