16 Mar 2018

3 steps to a winning cross cultural team

Cross-cultural communication or the lack of it could well be the missing ingredient in a ‘dream team’ you set up.   The truth is – the world is not as flat as it seems. And while a President somewhere is busy trying to build a wall, what he does not realise is that there is really no need to do so. A wall already exists. Everywhere in fact. Especially when two cultures come together. What was in fact missing in the team that was put together was this: no effort was made to acknowledge that the wall existed and no effort made to side step or break the wall. Cross cultural training or workshops designed by AbacusYellow aim to do just that: chip away and break the barrier that exists between two cultures. A clear three step process guides the construction of the day-long workshops.


For two cultures to work together it is essential to acknowledge the differences or the behaviours specific to each. It’s a humbling exercise. Often we stop looking at or recognizing our own selves in the mirror. Often we fail to realise that a simple statement made by us is steeped in centuries of cultural behavior. Most of the time, we are not conscious that the stance we take is more of a culture than a corporate. Self-recognition or otherwise, recognition is the first step to moving forward in creating a valuable relationship.


With self-recognition comes understanding. Now that you can recognise and pinpoint a behaviour as cultural, it’s time to scratch the surface. Dig deeper and you realise that each specific behaviour comes from a belief. Beliefs that that culture is based upon. Understand them and you understand the culture. Understand the culture and you understand that individual – your counterpart – on the phone line halfway across the globe.


Recognition and understanding is clearly not enough. Now there is some serious project work to be done. You need to move on with the task sheet, you have deadlines to meet and a project with lots of moving parts. There are ways to do that. Ways to work around the cultural barriers identified. And that doesn’t mean you change your beliefs or that of your colleagues. There is a middle ground. Or a third way altogether. Discover it. Decide that’s the way the team will work. And set the project rolling. Will it go, as they say, ‘as smooth as silk’? That depends on a host of factors. Even if it does not, at least, a significant part of that cultural wall will have been brought down.

And when you have a clear window of communication with your counterparts, things can only work in your favour. Which is what makes a winning cross cultural team.

If you feel it’s time to put in the missing ingredient in your dream team, email me at vaishakhi@abacusyellow.com and we could work out a customized solution for you, no matter what country you work with.

This post repurposed from a previously published post