Dealing with Cultural Differences at Work

By Teresa Oakley-Smith

For anyone to succeed in today’s business world it is necessary to embrace the uniqueness of differences in colleagues, regardless of where they come from or who they are. If you are able to effectively deal with cultural differences and diversity at work, then this will work in favour of your entire team. However, a modern South African company who believes it to be unnecessary to adequately plan for and prepare a strategy for dealing with cultural differences in the workplace will face many hurdles and challenges. Irrespective of the size of the organisation. An awareness of cultural diversity is necessary as is the ability to manage diversity.

The issues presented by cultural differences should be approached with flexibility and open mindedness. Cultural diversity will bring a new level of insight into the company amongst employees, teaching them about their colleagues’ strengths. Effectively dealing with cultural differences starts at the top of the company and trickles down the management structures to every level of the company.

Many companies might feel overwhelmed when they think of dealing with cultural differences in the workplace, not realising the enormous value that diversity brings to the workplace. Successful companies embracing diversity and leverage it for business advantage. These companies are committed to making it a part of their future and their recipe for success. Moreover, cultural diversity presents the opportunity for everyone to grow not only on a professional level, but in their personal lives too.

A great place to start is by making a commitment to communicate and understand that you are dealing with people who come from all walks of life. The differences referred to here can range from people whose values, languages, customs, beliefs, and rituals are different than yours. These differences are significant and if correctly manage can add significant advantage to your business. There is a wealth of research that shows that effectively managed diverse teams are more productive and results oriented than monocultural teams. Diversi-T is expert in diversity training and management and cultural assessment and transformation. We deal with hundreds of companies looking to embrace their workforce’s diversity and turn it into a strength rather than a weakness in the company. We are experienced in dealing with South African companies and the unique challenges they face in implementing diversity management. Allow us to help you benefit from the gold mine which is your human capital and get the best return on your investment.