Bulls n' Bears

Influence of Culture, Gender, Sex-roles, Age, Social Class

Cross-cultural management skills: Influence of culture, gender, sex-roles, age, social class

Managing a team of people from diverse cultures is both challenging as well as gratifying if you have a good understanding of human nature.

Human beings across the globe are essentially the same: they all thrive on love, are gratified by praise and acknowlegement of their talents and contributions, and respond with great co-operation if treated with respect and an understanding of these basic needs.

However, being a product of environment and upbringing, every human essentially carries a set of prejudices and principles or values that he has imbibed from his respective environment and social circle of influence, as well as his particular education. With this background of cultural differences, there emerge a visible set of differences in each individual and his responses as well as interpersonal skills and relationships.

Gender biases still exist even in modern times. Women are preferred for certain roles while men for other roles. This selection is sometimes necessary as each sex brings a certain set of interpersonal skills into the job entrusted. Also in some cases, the very nature of the job, the time shifts, etc may warrant that a particular job cannot be done by a woman (or a man, as the case may be).

Some cultures pay a great respect to age, and older people on a team often consider it an affront to be directed to do a job by younger managers. This situation can lead to a certain amount of resentment and non-cooperation if not handled tactfully. In a society that has a hierarchy of "class" based on set social norms, a similar situation may be encountered if a person of "higher" class is actually "lower" in the work hierarchy.

Therefore, managing a team of diverse cultures, genders etc requires a study of human nature and psychology, and training in skill development of interpersonal relationships. Management training in such a scenario also requires the development of emotional intelligence and personality development. Diverse teams need to be given more opportunity as a group to work together and discuss topics of social and general interest so as to create a unifying philosophy and understanding of life  beyond the boundaries of the individual environments in which they have grown and been influenced. Besides this, they need to be given team assignments.

The manager of a cross-cultural team should develop a more friendly attitude with his/her team so that individual differences are slowly dissolved and the team steadily grows into a harmonious group of people with the same goals, in alignment with the organisational goals.