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Enabling for Appreciation of Cultural Diversity on Virtual Teams

Enabling for Appreciation of Cultural Diversity on Virtual TeamsBreaking down cultural barriers on virtual teams enables for improved collaboration. When the team collaborates more benefits are many and include:

  • Innovative ideas on getting work accomplished
  • Increasing creativity in solving problems
  • Increasing the likelihood that new products and services developed will meet the needs of a diverse client base
  • Learning new skills and knowledge from others on the team
  • Less conflicts among team members
  • Increased sharing of information among team members

However, in order to realize these benefits, cultural diversity on the virtual team must be appreciated! To do this, barriers must be broken down. We don’t always appreciate those different from us – that is human nature. The best team leaders enable for virtual team members to appreciate the differences among the team in a variety of ways. I have personally used all of these methods myself to engage virtual teams that are culturally diverse to enable for increased success on the team initiative.

Team building activities: Utilize a variety of team activities that enable individuals to get to know each other and understand a bit about each other’s cultural background. These activities should be done at the start of the team first coming together but then enable for team building activities at regular intervals.

They can be as simple as sharing information about each other’s culture. For example, what is one thing about your culture that no one understands? Or, what about your culture makes it fun and exciting? Utilize also a variety of mini case study scenarios that enable the team members to understand how to work through their differences.

Collaboration portal: A collaboration portal or internal site is a place to keep everything about the virtual team and enable for the team to share information. Include a team directory that includes information about each team member as well as their photo. Information should include: roles on the team, contact information, office hours (especially for virtual teams from all over the globe), time zone, how best to reach the person, something personal about them (e.g., hobbies, favorite vacation spot)

Regular opportunities for leadership among the group: Let team members shine, show their abilities and share their expertise through enabling for each member of the team to take on a leadership role. Others will appreciate the value their team members bring to the team when they are able to see them “in action.”

Processes and procedures on how to work together effectively: Collaborate with the virtual team to develop processes and procedures for how the team will work together to accomplish their goals, including: how problems will be solved, decisions made, work based from one team member to another and how they will communicate between and among team members.

Keep the team regularly engaged and continuing to learn and appreciate diversity by ensuring that team members are paired up with those from a different cultural background. We can only learn to appreciate diversity when we have the opportunity to work alongside someone.

How do you cultivate an understanding of cultural diversity on your teams?

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