Dealing With Cultural Sensitivity In The Workplace

In the world we live in, with a supremacist leader as the leader of the free world, it seems that culturally ignorant people feel free to demonstrate their ignorance. Lately, cultural ignorance and overtly offending people have been maximized, and this behavior is slowly becoming the norm.

At work and in life, leaders are the ones to demonstrate exemplary behavior when dealing with people from different backgrounds. They have to be emotionally and culturally intelligent.

Wondering how to adjust yourself with different cultures, to become more culturally sensitive and create a healthy workplace?

Cultural Sensitivity Workplace

What is culture?

Culture is a dynamic and complex system of shared values, norms and symbols that distinguishes groups of people from others and that bound them together. It is demonstrated most often in literature, art, religion, language, traditions.

Furthermore, culture is learnt, and shapes one’s personal behavior, values, thoughts, experiences. for example, it defines one’s reaction to conflict or our problem solving skills.

Culture lays the basis for purpose, a higher calling and meaning in life. It is built on morals and a set of unspoken rules. It also conditions our perception for failure and success.

What is cultural sensitivity?

Cultural sensitivity is being aware that everyone is not the same. It means being able to learn from different people, to understand their backgrounds, to collaborate and cooperate with them, without being judgmental.

Cultural sensitivity means viewing everyone as a unique individual. It promotes unity and has become a skill that is most useful in the world of today.

Why is cultural sensitivity important?

Cultural sensitivity is detrimental because it introduces the concept of identity, of cultural appreciation, of cultural differences. It consequently increase the feeling of belonging and of safety. It improves communication, the quality of work in multinationals or when dealing with coworkers from different backgrounds. In addition, it removes the idea of cultural superiority.

Contrasting cultures bring a diverse set of knowledge, competencies, perspectives and ideas. If positively and purposefully harnessed, culture differences can trigger innovation, creativity and improve job satisfaction.

How to become a culturally sensitive leader?

Work is a part of an individual social identity. Corporate has its own culture, with its norm, its rules, its own values and own systems of beliefs. If the culture is healthy and positive, people easily feel empowered, valued and give better results.

In the corporate culture, managing people with different backgrounds is complex and full of challenges. Regardless of the laws in place, there are a lot of micro aggression towards diversity.

To create culturally sensitive environment, and subsequently a healthy workplace:

  1. Encourage self-awareness and self-development. Change is an internal process that requires self-analysis and self-respect beforehand.
  2. Stay authentic and don’t try to appropriate or claim someone else’s culture.
  3. Be mindful, be open to new experiences and don’t hesitate to explore and learn new things.
  4. Remember, with every interaction, that every person from a different culture is a human-being.
  5. Embrace people who are different from yourself. Get to know the person’s background to understand their behavior, how they operate in society and how they experience life.
  6. Listen actively and respectfully to people and when speaking, choose your words carefully.
  7. Avoid imposing your ideas on people and forcing them into a box of stereotypes.
  8. Take the initiative and learn other people’s dynamics through personal experience or prolonged exposure.
  9. Identify some idioms and sayings. Also, pronounce their name correctly and accept silence as an act of communication. Learning their language will consequently improve communication.
  10. Show appreciation for someone else’s culture. On one hand, demonstrate empathy and avoid judging them. On the other hand, don’t pander too much to someone else’s culture.
  11. Ask probing open-ended questions. Avoid asking too many questions as not to overwhelm your interlocutor.
  12. Help your employees to understand the company’s culture, expectations, goals and code of conduct.
  13. Work on your social skills. Focus on building healthy relationships.
  14. Effectively navigate conflicts brought by cultural differences.
  15. Pick up on emotional and non verbal cues during conversations.
  16. Take and provide diversity trainings.
  17. If you are part of the majority, seek understanding before seeking to be understood. opening up to minorities will help them accept yours faster, to face challenges better and will increase their work performance.
  18. Respect that other people won’t want to integrate your culture. 
  19. Allow people to express freely their values. This will increase their interactions with others, their work performance and their well-being.
  20. Learn to compromise.
  21. Encourage your team to travel more and to approach diverse group of people outside of work.

Adjusting or understanding a culture is a long process. Learning and adjusting to someone else’s culture doesn’t mean that you have to deny your own. It just means that you are able to work and collaborate with people from diverse culture.

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.

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Identifying And Correcting Leadership Mistakes In The Workplace

Mistakes?! Everybody makes them but not everyone knows how to handle them. Mistakes are most often seen in a negative light but it shows you what you are made of, that you need to redirect your career, that you need to change procedures and your character.

Mistakes are inevitable, are a factor for change and have a knack for:

  • Discovering our authentic selves.
  • Exhibiting our vulnerabilities, limitations and blind spots.
  • Helping us prioritize and go to the essentials.
  • Showing us what works and what doesn’t.
  • Teaching us to forgive and to be less hard on ourselves.
  • Teaching us how to explore and experiment in life.
  • Teaching us how to learn and change.
  • Humbling us.
  • Showing us who is our support system.
  • Building our problem solving skills.
  • Making us more resourceful.
  • Displaying the consequences of our mistakes.
  • Removing us from our comfort zones.

Wondering how to identify mistakes and how to correct them?

Identifying And Correcting Leadership Mistakes In The Workplace

Mistakes don’t directly lead to success but it can show you the way. It is best when they come to light rather than going unnoticed. When mistakes are made, it makes sense for us to focus on what we have done right, on our strengths rather than our weaknesses. It is then detrimental to:

  • Identify the cues of mistake making, of failure.
  • Be self-aware.
  • Take responsibility for the mistake that led to the problem.
  • Encourage constructive criticism as much as feedback is given.
  • Measure the consequences of the mistakes.
  • Make immediate analysis and changes to fix the mistakes.
  • Be smart and learn from the mistakes made. Be wise and learn from the mistakes of others.
  • Create an environment that is safe to make mistakes and to recover from them.

There is a vast number of recurring mistakes and failures detected in corporate history.

MISTAKE #1: Fitting Into The Corporate Culture

The first mistake that leaders make is failing to see that they don’t fit in, that their values and morals don’t match the company’s culture.

To identify whether or not you will fit in and be an asset to your company:

  • Check out the group that you have to work with.
  • Pose the right questions about the company during the hiring process. You can even hang out in the company’s lobby or pip in the office to get a feel of the company.

Corrective Action

Whether or not you wish to adapt to the culture is a personal choice. If you do:

  • Observe other people who are successful within the organization and see if you can emulate their behavior.
  • Learn to appreciate uniqueness and diversity.
  • Learn to adapt to the situation at hand.
  • Leave when there is too much discrepancy between your morals, values and the company’s culture.

MISTAKE #2: Focusing on the job and not on people

Leaders who don’t focus on people are seen to be snobs, insensitive, inattentive. They don’t like to be interrupted, are their best when left alone, avoid  conversations and small talks at all costs, are focused on tasks, are afraid of failing at their jobs.

Unfortunately, they fail at relationships. This can easily create misunderstandings and conflicts because people have no barometer to measure your speech or your behavior.

Corrective Action

Dealing with people has now become a sought after soft skill. To keep growing that skill:

  • Relax and allow people to come to you.
  • Control your verbal and non verbal cues.
  • Recognize that people are part of life and that relationships can increase your success.
  • Show that you care.
  • Solve people’s problem.
  • Take lunches and breaks away from your workplace in order to handle social interactions better.
  • Give positive feedback, affirmations, encouragements especially to younger workers.
  • Don’t play favorites with people.

MISTAKE #3: Sticking To Traditional Leadership Styles

Autocratic and commanding leadership styles, though common and easy, are outdated, are rigid, are no longer acceptable in society and don’t work anymore, especially with millennials.

Some leaders, needing to feel superior and powerful, tend to withhold information to control their employees. Today, millennials expect validation, recognition, rewards, a more deconstructed workplace that is fun, relaxed, motivational yet productive and structured. They want to understand their role, the impact of their contributions at work, to be involved in the decision-making process, to learn continually and to own their work.

People are more comfortable in the democratic leadership style and are able to perform at their best.

Corrective Action

To transition from an autocratic leadership style to a more democratic leadership style:

  • Allow your workers to give their input before you make a decision.
  • Learn how to motivate and inspire your people.
  • Be the solution to everybody’s problem.
  • Empower others and help them to be successful.
  • Don’t be arrogant, don’t bark orders or mistreat your coworkers.
  • Listen to the needs of your coworkers.

MISTAKE #4: Shutting down dissenting voices, innovative and creative people

Pioneers and dissenting voices within the organization usually have a bad reputation. They are not welcomed in groups, go against the grain, are seen as not playing by the rules, are stifled, are the ones that end up being fired.

The thing is that pioneers are innovative, creative and can renew a company’s product and culture. They are natural catalysts, take risks and they need a room to breathe and to exercise their talents.

Corrective Action

To include dissenting voices, innovative and creative people:

  • Be more flexible with your policies and procedures.
  • Learn to discern pioneers from troublemakers and contrarians. pioneers actually care about the organization and about their contributions to it.
  • Allow pioneers to work on their own and own their results.
  • Slowly increase their responsibility.
  • Understand that everyone is not the same and deserve a different treatment.

MISTAKE #5: Controlling people and not delegating

Some leaders don’t know how to delegate, don’t want to delegate or just find it plain hard to do so. Indeed, it is a hard task because it requires that the leader:

  • Has faith in the workers.
  • believes that the work will be up to standards.
  • is confident in their personal abilities and is not afraid of being upstaged.
  • is comfortable depending on others.

Corrective Action

Delegating is not easy.  To learn how to delegate:

  • Avoid micromanaging people but measure their advancement.
  • Don’t withdraw a project or assignment that you have previously delegated.
  • Include employees in the decision-making process.
  • Demonstrate confidence in yourself and in the people you have chosen to delegate the tasks to.
  • When delegating, select experts in their field, clarify their roles, give them the authority to do their jobs, allow them to fail and to grow.
  • Create clear progress measurement tools and milestones.

MISTAKE #6: Not Seeing The Bigger Picture

Leaders fail when they are unable to see the bigger picture.

Corrective Action

To stay fixated on the bigger picture:

  • Write a personal mission statement and build a vision board.
  • Get to know your company’s mission and vision statement.
  • Take time to think about your vision.
  • Prioritize and stick to the essentials.
  • Feed your mind with positivity.

MISTAKE #7: Competing With Coworkers

Comparing ourselves to others and competing with them can weigh on work performance and self-esteem.

Competition in the workplace, without rules and regulations, to increase work performance, to put two employees against each other can easily derail an entire organization, create a toxic workplace, create a culture of fear.

Corrective Action

To reduce competition in the workplace:

  • Collaborate with your team members.
  • Build relationships that go beyond the workplace.
  • Compete against the standards that you have set for yourself.
  • Acknowledge your personal success.
  • Build new skills.

IDENTIFYING AND CORRECTING LEADERSHIP MISTAKES IN THE WORKPLACE

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.

Barbara Safani

Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, http://www.careersolvers.com. Barbara Safani is also the Author of #JOBSEARCHTweets 140 Job Search Nuggets For Landing Your Dream Job.

#JOBSEARCHTweet 140 Job Search Nuggets for Managing Your Career and Landing Your Dream Job by Barbara Safani

#JOBSEARCHTweet by Barbara Safani gathers exactly 140 tweets that serve as a job hunting guide.

#JOBSEARCHTweet shares motivating tips to successful carry out your job search, to excel at your a job interview, to craft your resume, cover letters and thank you letters.

It also teaches you how to utilize technology – social media and job searching sites – to your advantage.

Review

#JOBSEARCHTweet by Barbara Safani is an easy and quick book to read that shares practical advice.

This book is ideal for those who just started job searching and haven’t got the time nor a clue to where to start.

The most important piece of advice that I have experienced and extracted from this book consists in being presentable and being able to introduce/sell yourself properly.

Ratings 3/5

Author

Barbara Safani