For success in project management in the present times, it is critical for project managers to bring their attention to multiculturalism. And what is multiculturalism? It could mean dealing with an internal team that has members from diverse cultures and ethnicities. Alternatively, it could also imply managing a cross-cultural team for a global project.
It is quite common for project managers to face some challenges when managing a multicultural team. There are likely to be hurdles and misunderstandings across various levels. However, rather than perceiving this as a problem, project managers can view it as a positive and value boosting element of their project. Let’s look at some of the key benefits of different cultures in project management:
Access to a bigger market
Cultural diversity can actually add to the business value of a company/project. We live in a large society where all companies are trying to sell their products in a global marketplace. Smart companies are increasingly discovering that a multicultural team could enable a company/brand to thrive in a global marketplace. One of the main reasons for this is that a diverse team could help you get access to a broader market.
Improved decision making
Project managers who have worked with multicultural teams report that they experienced better decision making while working with people from diverse backgrounds. It is natural for people from similar backgrounds to mimic each other’s thoughts and perspectives. This leads to a narrow vision and may restrict growth in a project. On the other hand, a variety of different opinions coming from people belonging to different cultures could help a manager take a slightly new and unconventional route and achieve goals more efficiently.
Managing a cross-cultural team adds to the expertise of the project manager
When a project manager is given the task of managing a multicultural team, he/she is likely to spend some time researching on different cultures and interacting with managers who have previously handled similar projects. This is a huge learning experience for the project manager. Managers may even undergo specific training to boost their cultural awareness so that they can get maximum benefits out of working with a cross-cultural team. They will also learn about ways to reduce risks in such a project. This knowledge, training and experience will add to the portfolio of the project manager and make him a potential recruit for managing future large-scale projects.
For a project manager, the development of a project team, i.e. hiring of team members, is a critical responsibility. There is no denying the fact that an increasing number of companies are recognizing the benefits of recruiting employees from diverse cultural backgrounds. However, it needs to be mentioned that it would be naïve to hire unworthy candidates just to create a diverse workforce in the company. At the end of the day, you still need to have an efficient team that can work towards project and company goals. A company should simply avoid any biases while hiring and simply aim to get the most deserving candidates.