Managing Culturally Diverse
Work Groups within an Organization
Troy State University
Dr. Earl Ingram
November 28, 2004
Cultural diversity has become widespread within many organizations today. The work groups in these organizations are increasingly being staffed by culturally diverse employees. The cultural differences exhibited in the groups can enhance or weaken the function of the work group, especially in a predominantly homogenous environment. These multicultural work groups present challenges to the organization and to the managers that must reduce these challenges in order to achieve the desired success of the organization. The biggest obstacle with cultural diversity in the work groups is the managers' lack of knowledge of how to lead a culturally diverse work group or team. This paper will focus on the disadvantages associated with culturally diverse work groups, and how managers can counteract those disadvantages to make culturally diverse work groups more effective within the organization. This paper will discuss the traps managers should avoid when leading a diverse team; how to develop group synergy among group members; and how to use the diverse groups to attain competitive advantages. This paper will also discuss the advantages the organization can attain once the managers have been educated on leading a diverse work group and the possible training programs available.
Managing Culturally Diverse Work Groups within an Organization Diversity is comprised of many characteristics: internally and externally. Internally, diversity includes characteristics such as age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, and physical ability. External characteristics define our lives and the things we value. They include religion, geographic location, income, personal and recreational habits, education, appearance, and marital status. All of these characteristics work together to define who we are as people, and the affect we have on others. These culturally diverse individuals are the builders of organizations. Inside these organizations, culturally diverse work groups and teams are formed. According to Bruno (2004), diversity is the approach to business that regards human differences in the workplace as contributing to the success. An organization that creates an inclusive environment that values and respects differences will benefit from diversity. Cultural diversity has become widespread within many organizations today. The work groups in these organizations are increasingly being staffed by culturally diverse employees. This diverse group increases the available pool of resources, networks, perspectives, styles, knowledge, and insights (Ely, Thomas, 2001). People with different norms, values, and beliefs will have different attitudes and work ethics in relation to how well they perform their jobs. When a diverse group of people come together to form a work group within an organization, a common ground will need to be met in order to function productively. The cultural differences demonstrated by the employees can be directly related to their job performances. Their cultural differences enable them to perceive the same idea in many different ways, and when not handled properly, these differences can lead to miscommunications and low group cohesion and morale. These factors ultimately affect the group's work performance and their contribution to the organization's success. To counteract the distractions related to diversity, managers must work to enhance group performance and member morale, satisfaction, intent to remain, and commitment (Gibson, Donnelly, Ivancevich, Konopaske, 2003). If the managers do not work to enhance group performance and member morale, then it will lead to disadvantages within the work group. DISADVANTAGES OF CULTURALLY DIVERSE WORK GROUPS
Working successfully with individuals unlike ourselves is difficult...