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BLOG: Managing a multi-cultural workforce

Roy Magee | Sept. 1, 2011
How businesses can benefit from diversity.

2.       Find talents in everyone

Regardless of cultures, everyone has something important to contribute. It's a matter of taking the initiative to find those talents and match them with the challenges at hand. In doing so, businesses can not only utilise the skills in their workforce but open the door to innovation and create a more attractive work environment, improving recruitment and retention efforts. To find talents in everyone:

  • Assume that everyone has value to contribute;
  • Ask others about their interests, abilities and experience; and
  • Allow for a range of productive work styles.

3.       Mix it up

People naturally prefer to spend time with people like themselves, including those of similar cultures. Working across cultures helps realise the tremendous value of diverse perspectives, which often sparks

creativity. The daily effort to offer and ask for help builds strong connections among diverse groups and makes everyone's job easier. To mix it up:

  • Encourage partnerships across nationalities;
  • Find collaborative ways to share perspectives; and
  • Respectfully ask for and offer ideas and help.

4.       Expect a lot

Low expectations due to cultural stereotyping can create self-fulfilling prophecies. People tend to get what they expect of themselves and others. In contrast, high expectations - for how and how well people apply their talents - demonstrate respect for others and promote increasing competence over time. To achieve this:

  • Challenge workers to learn, grow, and perform;
  • Hold everyone to high standards; and
  • Observe how expectations drive effort and results.

The long-term success of any organisation depends on contributions from employees of all cultures, ethnicities and language groups. Employees who apply these practices to see one another as an asset to Singapore's workforce can help support a motivating, collaborative and productive workplace.

Roy Magee is regional vice-president, Asia, for AchieveGlobal, a corporate soft-skills training provider. 



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