In international business, cross-cultural teamwork is fundamental to success. Whether your organization produces products, services or solutions, you need to communicate often, if warranted, and effectively with intermediaries and the final client to ensure that specifications can be delivered in compliance, on time, at the right price and without a hitch.
Teams are essential when an international project is too big, too complex or too demanding for one person to complete successfully, efficiently and on time or when one person lacks all of the knowledge or skill to complete the entire project. Other times, teams are created when multiple experts are necessary to mitigate the risks of one person making all of the decisions and having sole responsibility.
Requirements for Successful Cross-Cultural Teams
Working efficiently in cross-cultural team requires excellent interpersonal communication skills in addition to strong listening and networking skills and cultural sensitivity. In some instance, teams will need to work with a certified translator or interpreter. Competencies in conflict resolution, group leadership and collaborative team building are also essential.
For teams to be effective, rules must be established. The infographic, “12 Rules for Multicultural Work Teams,” offers recommendations that teams should adopt in their initial meeting. Early in the development of a team, various conflicts can arise. If they persist, they can render a team ineffective. The most effective teams define and qualify specific roles for each member, a code of conduct that governs participation and work expectations. Strong listening and communication skills can reduce, prevent and resolve most conflicts.
After the development stage of team formation comes the coordination stage when members focus on their individual assignments. The established structure of the team maintains control, coordination and communication flow through interactions among all members. Accurate, timely, reliable and understandable information sharing is a necessary component for group cohesion and strong decisions. The team may decide to consider multiple solutions that will each be weighed and critiqued carefully.
Finally, during the formalization stage, the team decides on an appropriate course of action. If a viable solution doesn’t exist, a team may decide to disband or reconvene when new information or resources become available.