Cultural competency is a very important aspect in the workplace. Indeed, there have always been misunderstandings between representatives of different cultures and arguments between different generations. Therefore, managers need to find some appropriate solutions in order to help his/her employees understand and respect each other better.
The United States is often called the melting pot; the variety of different cultures in this country is really high. Some researchers make a suggestion that in future the number of white people will decrease, while the non-white population will continue to grow. If one compares the census of 2000 and 2010, he or she may identify this tendency. For instance, according to the census of 2000, the percentage of Whites is about 69, 1 percent, Hispanics are 12, 5 percent, Blacks are 12.1 percent, and Asians are only 3, 6 percent. The census of 2010 shows that the Whites compose 63, 7 percent, Hispanics are 16, 3 percent, Blacks are 12, 2 percent and Asians are 4, 7 percent. As one can see, the percentage of Whites decreases, while Hispanics and Asians have grown. Today, when one makes a call to a government office, he or she may choose the language of communication; in the United States, they are usually English and Spanish, but the diversity of languages may increase in the nearest future.
As a result, the increasing of cultural and ethnical diversity leads to some conflicts and problems in the workplace. The representatives of any culture have their own world view and they perceive the same situations in a different way, through the specifics of their beliefs, traditions or religion. Sometimes different views on the same issue may be the cause of a conflict. However, in the majority of cases, the conflicts caused by cultural aspects are the result of misunderstanding. For instance, Asian people are good team workers; on the one hand, individualism is not their strong side. On the other hand, Americans prefer to work individually in order to demonstrate their personal qualities. Thus, if one composes a team of Americans and makes an Asian a leader, the result will be dramatic because no one be able to perform his or her obligations well.
The similar situations happen when representatives of different generations have to work in one team. Every generation was grown according to demands of that time, and, as a result, it had a powerful influence on a generation’s perception, way of analyzing and a decision making process. Millennials is considered to be a new generation which followed after the generation X. Millennials is a very young generation which has been grown in the conditions of a new modern world. They have not experience the consequences of a war like it was with a baby-boom generation and have not been the witnesses of the economic crises like the generation X. The conditions of their growing were quite positive; indeed, their behavior differs much from the behavior of previous generations. In spite of the negative specifics of millennials’ behavior or manner of act, they have many positive features which are necessary for workers in a team. The older generations cannot find a common language with them because of the big generation gap that exists between them, but all the conflicts are more the result of misunderstanding than the incorrect behavior or bad performance. Millennials are energetic, enthusiastic, they can easily learn new information especially if it is connected with a cyber sphere, but they are impatient and almost do not obey official manners of behavior. Thus, the statement that millennials are intolerant, rude or unmanaged generation is not totally correct; they simply do their work in their own way.
However, the biggest problem that may arise in the workplace is the consequences of one’s personal behavior, cultural specific or origin on his or her wellbeing in an organization or further promotion. Behavior and believes might become the major barriers for an employee’s better performance. Stereotypes and individual fears about to be not recognized by colleagues or a boss work like a holding mechanism. For instance, some people are afraid to offer their ideas because they think that their ideas are not important for the audience. In fact, it is the result of behavior when a child was growing up in a family where he or she has no right of voice or personal opinion. In oriental cultures, workers prefer not to propose any ideas at all. They have the strict division on those who manage and those who perform. An ordinary employee should perform his or her obligations and not to interact in a management process. Hence, an organization loses an initiative which comes from its bottom; employees do not show enthusiasm to develop the organization where they work. This situation could be improved only by the implementation of a new leadership style which will be targeted on the inspiring of employees to demonstrate their best results. For instance, it can be a transformational leadership which predetermines the high level of motivation and inspiration. According to this leadership, the followers are encouraged to offer their own ideas and solutions, which helps to make an effective team with strong initiative and high level of enthusiasm.
Cultural competence is represented by a set of particular skills that are oriented on problem-solving. These skills include the capability to identify and fully comprehend the dynamic interaction between the measurements of adaptation to culture and heritage in shaping personal behavior. The capacity to utilize certain knowledge that is obtained and concerns heritage of a person and challenges that one may face in the process of adaptation in order to increase the efficiency of treatment, analysis, and evaluation is also a part of cultural competence. Besides, internalization is the next part of the above mentioned phenomenon. Internalization means assimilation into a detached problem-solving list. In addition, internalization occurs in the process of acquirement, identification, and employment of cultural dynamics. Due to this fact, one can state that internalization can be normally useful for diversification of consumers, professionals and groups. The purpose of this action is to make the performance in cross-cultural circumstances much more effective.
Regarding five foundation aspects of cultural competencies, one should mention cultural self-evaluation, institutionalized cultural awareness, evaluation of multiplicity, adaptation to this very multiplicity, and control of the dynamics of diversities. Cultural self-evaluation is focused on assessing itself; in addition, it has a sense of an individual’s own culture and correlation to other ones. Institutionalized cultural awareness is responsible for authorization and permitting of the cultural knowledge integration. Evaluation of multiplicity is, in fact, knowledge of dissimilarities that concern communication and, of course, their acceptance. Moreover, this aspect also represents explanations of such phenomena as family, health and world view. Adaptation to the multiplicity enhances some changes in order to provide a better interaction between a service and a client by the means of organization, services, values and policies adaptations. In order to control the dynamics of diversities one needs to comprehend that not only a provider of the service but also a client is a source of certain models of communication code of ethics, samples of ways to solve a problem that are culturally predetermined.
Cultural self-evaluation applies to millennials in terms of being more confident and doing work with more confidence, which leads to better performance of an employee. Institutionalized cultural awareness is an essential knowledge not only for millenials but for all people who work in a team. This knowledge can help to understand each other and interact with each other better, having less problems and misunderstandings. Evaluation of multiplicity will show millennials that all people are different and have their own world view; nevertheless, they should be respected. Regarding adaptation to this very multiplicity, one can state that this is the easy way to accept the conditions of the diversities and learn to interact with people who are of different culture or beliefs, etc. Finally, control of the dynamics of diversities lets millennials watch the situation and control it by improving the issues where challenges occur.
Unfortunately, people often do not manage to communicate in a proper way, especially if they are of different cultures, races, generations, etc.; this leads to numerous misunderstandings and arguments. In turn, such situations worsen a working process; as a result, it becomes even more difficult to achieve a targeted goal. In most cases, effective communication is a real key to success. Naturally, in order to achieve a common goal, a team needs to understand each other and work as a unit.
First and foremost, in order to create more effective cross-cultural and cross-generational teams, there is a strong need to understand cultural multiplicity. A good manager should take into account all the specifics of the cultures and generations that he or she must work with. Besides, he or she must transfer this understanding to his/her subordinates; a manager needs to explain the essential rules of working in a team to his/her employees. Further, it is necessary to expand awareness of individual cultures and generations, which means to provide members of a team with information concerning each culture and generation that is involved into the team. In fact, this is needed in order to give a general awareness of that or another culture and generation for being ready for various situations that may occur. The next step is insisting on tolerant behavior and respectful attitude towards each member of the team. Indeed, it is up to a manager to shape and develop a healthy and respectful atmosphere in a team. After all the above mentioned steps are taken, it becomes really important and a great challenge to keep everything the same. A manager can create a wonderful atmosphere, but it is not easy to keep it the same. The reason is that a manager’s attitude towards his or her employees may be different; however, he/she should not show it to the staff because it may destroy everything that he/she has created. Finally, it is extremely important for an executive to be always ready to help his/her subordinates if they need it.
The brief implementation plan for the above stated recommendations is the following:
- Comprehend cultural multiplicity;
- Expand awareness of individual cultures and generations;
- Insist on tolerant behavior;
- Keep a working process simple;
- Provide help if any of the subordinates need it.
To conclude, one may state that the reconciliation of different generations and cultures is not easy. Nonetheless, it is still possible and depends on a leader to a great extent. Having a proper implementation plan and being aware of the specifics of the cultures and generations which he or she needs to work with, the manager will be able to succeed in this task.