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The modern day organizations display a wide variety of workforce (Podsiadlowski et al., 2013). The diversity is regarding race, religion, culture, ethnicity, language, age, gender and others. The multinational organizations employ a large number of manpower which has culturally diverse backgrounds. They unite together to work in the same organization and towards fulfilling the same organizational goals (Podsiadlowski et al., 2013). There are diverse industries, and there are different types of organizations surviving in the same market place (Podsiadlowski et al., 2013). A single organizational policy or operation manual is not applicable for every organization. There is a need to adapt the organizational rules and regulations as per the needs of the organization. There is a need for the improvement in the employer-employee relationship so that the workplace becomes a mutually enriching place.
This paper would explore the communication challenges encountered by a leader in relation to the diverse workforce. The paper would also discuss the ethical issues handled by leaders in a culturally diverse organization. The last segment of the paper describes the leadership styles related to the management of the culturally diverse workplaces. The objective of the paper is to gain a broader knowledge base regarding the management of the multicultural workforce. The strategic challenges in the employee behavior and the leadership issues are discussed.
The organizational culture is an influencing factor for the behavior of the people in an organizational scenario (Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2015). The organizational culture affects the thinking capabilities of the people and their performance as well as commitment towards the organization (Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2015). The organizational culture changes from one organization to the other and there are primarily three forms of the culture namely bureaucratic, innovative and supportive (Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2015). The Australian organizations display higher proportion of the supportive and innovative organizations. The national culture of a country also influences the organizational cultures. The leadership styles contribute a lot towards the achievement of the organizational objectives (Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2015). There is interconnection between the motivation, leadership styles and the performance of the employees. The transformational leadership contributes to commitment and job satisfaction of the employees (Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2015). The attributes of transformational leadership include clarity of vision and empowerment.
Australia has a unique blend of employees in the workplaces. There are many advantages of a culturally diverse workplace such as increased innovation, increased productivity and others (Robbins et al., 2013). The organizations are benefitted if they can manage the cultural diversity well. The benefits include reduced employee turnover rates, reduction in the compliance and legal risks, reduction of any negative image of the organization and others (Robbins et al., 2013). The organizations can gain competitive advantages and added value if they can manage their diverse workforce.
There are times when the managers are unable to manage the cultural diversity of the workplace due to several reasons (Moran, Abramson & Moran, 2014). The reasons can be a lack of clear understanding, lack of communication, moral degradation, and ethical degradation and the degraded relationship between the employer and the employee. In such cases, the organizations start degrading themselves in the eyes of the public, and hence they lag behind their competitors (Moran, Abramson & Moran, 2014).
There are different kinds of leadership visible in the organizations (Day et al., 2014). A successful leader should have a long sighted vision and the process of the execution of his tasks. The cross-cultural leaders should visualize his works as a challenge and should consider the individual growth as a mean for the organizational growth (Day et al., 2014). They need to manage tactfully the impacts of technology, demographics, work ethics, continuous learning, and globalization so that they can manage the workplace diversity in a better manner (Day et al., 2014). The global leaders are expected to display excellent interpersonal skills and people management skills for minimizing the number of racial conflicts, which occur between the people working in the organization (Day et al., 2014). The cross-cultural leaders should be carefully selected so that they can handle the diverse manpower as well align themselves with the complex business strategies.
The global organizations have started realizing the importance of communications in a cross-border business scenario (Spencerâ€Oatey & Franklin, 2014). They have started dealing with the challenges that are faced by the business when they operate in international markets. The cross-border communication plays a vital role in the success of the organizations (Erel, Liao & Weisbach, 2012). There is no physical connection between the countries, which makes it difficult for the companies to maintain adequate communication. The managers have to depend on the virtual communication methods for performing conversation between the cross-border entities (Erel, Liao & Weisbach, 2012).
The home markets are undergoing a period of stagnation, and hence, the countries are searching for new avenues for gaining new customers and venturing into new geographical locations (Dikova & Sahib, 2013). The companies are viewing the international expansion as a method for achieving higher revenues. This had led to the requirement of productive and harmonious cross-border relationships (Dikova & Sahib, 2013). The cross-border relationship would be strengthened by adequate communication skills, which would lead to higher cultural sensitivity.
The leaders face a wide variety of communication challenges when managing a cross-cultural team (Cuypers, Ertug & Hennart, 2015). The expense of the installation of a virtual communication system poses a big challenge. The organizations usually have the paucity of funds, as a result of which it may not be possible for the organizations to install advanced technological systems (Cuypers, Ertug & Hennart, 2015). There are instances when the employees are not given sufficient training to use the virtual communication systems. There are language barriers between the employees of culturally diverse workplace (Chidlow, Plakoyiannaki & Welch, 2014). It is considered that English is a widely used global language but still there are employees who are unable to communicate through this language. They prefer to communicate through their local language or their mother tongue. This creates communication barriers, which leads to an obstacle in the work processes. There are faulty recruitment and selection methods, which lead to the human resource employing manpower which is not suited for culturally diverse work environments (Cuypers, Ertug & Hennart, 2015). The lack of communication leads to greater misunderstandings between the employees. This is because one employee is unable to understand the language or accent of the employee from different cultural background. The linguistic diversity is a serious issue in this regard (Almond & Verba, 2015). A serious communication barrier is the hostile and inaccurate stereotypes of people from different cultural background (Cuypers, Ertug & Hennart, 2015). The employees prefer to assume the traits of another employee from a different cultural background (Shenkar, 2012). For example, a stereotypical American guy is assumed to be arrogant and rude as well as tolerant in the workplace. In reality, he may be a different person altogether. The act of prejudging individual leads to miscommunications, which eventually creates barriers in the communication process. There are behavioral differences between the employees of different cultures (Shenkar, 2012). The different cultures have different behaviors, which they consider to be acceptable. For example, maintaining eye to eye contact during conversations is considered rude in some cultures, while in some cultures, the act of not maintaining eye contact is considered as disrespectful. The cross-cultural leader should take care of these minute aspects to successfully manage a diverse workforce.
Fig: Management of Cultural Differences
Source: Moran, Abramson & Moran, 2014
The above diagram describes the different characteristics of the culturally diverse people. There are visible cultural differences, which can be considered as the behavioral characteristics of people and there are certain underlying cultural roots. The invisible cultural roots are the primary cause of the behaviors of different individuals. The cross-border leaders should take an active part in dealing with different communication styles, different approaches for task completion, different decision making styles, and different attitudes towards disclosure and approaches of acknowledging knowledge. The leaders should take an active part in eliminating the communication barriers in the organizations (Edge & Hoffman 2013).
The organizations have realized that for the purpose of the financial success, they need to demonstrate adequate collaboration and effective cross-border communication (Shenkar, 2012). The organizations are often not able to communicate seamlessly to their cross-border partners. The reasons for miscommunication can be due to technical lags or human errors. The cross-border communication process is an expensive affair. There should be proper allocation of funds for the purpose of facilitating cross-border communication (Shenkar, 2012). There should be proper infrastructural facilities and the deployment of information technology for performing the communication process.
The management of the cultural diversity is a crucial job role of the leaders. There are two important dynamics that influence the modern day organizations, namely diversity and ethics. It is important for the organizations to formulate a “Code of Ethics” so that there is a promotion of ethical business culture (Singh, 2015).
There are various types of unethical activities that can be observed in the culturally diverse workplaces. There can be bribery, illegal campaign activities, hiding information, intentional sales of defective goods and other troublesome acts (Bassell, Fischer & Friedman, 2015). These kinds of situations represent organizational or individual misconduct. In such circumstances, the ethical framework of the organization is challenged, and it results in a cultural conflict. There are ethical differences, which can lead to conflicting business practices. The bribery is strictly prohibited in every organization and every country (Singh, 2015). There are instances when the senior officials engage in bribery, for gaining business prospects and climbing the corporate ladder (Bassell, Fischer & Friedman, 2015). The officials try to hide the bribery amount from their financial statements. There are instances when the officials face hefty fines and jail terms about the crime of bribery (Bassell, Fischer & Friedman, 2015).
Culture is considered as the basis of business ethics (Sultana et al., 2013). The culture of an organization is directly proportional to the ethical activities of their managers. The organization’s managers prefer clear and cohesive guidelines to aid in the decision making process. There are not enough practices to address the cross-ethical cultural practices. There are several conflicts (regarding ethical practices) arising from the cross-cultural workforce. There can be minor issues like the exchange of gifts, employing political misfit labor to major issues like bribery, cheating, false allegations and others (Sultana et al., 2013).
The cross-border leader should engage themselves in the moral and philosophical belief of the team. The managers should keep themselves aware regarding the day to day operations of his team. Fraud is common in the business world of today (Baer, 2014). There are instances when a close acquaintance of the manager engages in a major fraud to the company (Baer, 2014). The manager should not be carried away by emotions. The cross-cultural manager should aim to create a minimal risk environment in the environment. There should be detailed planning for combating fraud in the workplace. The organizations must take note of their corporate strategy and ensure the minimal occurrence of any unethical practices.
The illicit transfer of confidential information is also considered as unethical behavior. There are instances when confidential information is passed to an unauthorized person (Schipani & Seyhun, 2015). This proves to be a serious concern for the cross-border business. This can occur either due to intentional interference or unintentional interference. A dishonest person can intentionally pass the company’s private information to another unauthorized person (Schipani & Seyhun, 2015). The information in one geographical region is considered as confidential to that particular region only. A person belonging to a different geographic location and in a different job role should not gain access to that information, even though he or she is working in the same organization (Schipani & Seyhun, 2015). There are situations where there is a transfer of confidential information even though there was no intentional approach towards it. For example, one male employee engages in a romantic relationship with a female employee in a different location. There can be sharing of information between the couple, even though there is no bad intent . The organization is at the losing end, as ultimately their private and confidential information is reaching the unauthorized persons (Schipani & Seyhun, 2015).
The cross-border managers should take adequate measures to combat the unethical practices in the workplace (Kruk, 2013). There should be monitoring and checks on the various interrelationships between the employees. The manager should formulate anti-fraud strategies according to the organizational needs. There should be counseling sessions as well as seminars for boosting the morale of the employees. There should be the formulation of ethical standards guide as per the organization (Kruk, 2013). It should provide adequate guidelines for the company to perform in a trustworthy and honest manner in all their company related interactions. These kinds of standards would motivate the employees to undertake right decisions for the company (Kruk, 2013). It would also allow them to report any unethical behavior, which is observed by them. The managers should also inform the organizational standards and the expected legal practices to the employees (Kruk, 2013).
The managers should convey strict legal actions against employees who are found to be engaged in unethical practices. The corrective actions can be imprisonment, hefty fines, instant termination, blacklisting and others (McCormick, 2012). The managers should establish the corporate culture and underline the core values of the organization. The corporate culture should outline the factors of respect, trust and honest dealings in their business practices and the communication channels.
The human resource team should recruit the right person (McCormick, 2012). The detailed background check should be made a compulsory tool for the recruitment process (McCormick, 2012). Proper care should be taken so that they hire trustworthy and ethical persons in the workplace (McCormick, 2012). There should be proper penalty systems for unethical and dishonest behavior. The human resource department should set a high example standard by recruiting an honest employee, which boosts the morale of the other employees.
The competitive nature of the workplaces, which has resulted as a result of globalization, demands the leader to possess a diverse set of skills and abilities. The cross-cultural leaders should be able to manage the culturally different infrastructures, which are also known as cultural quotient or cultural intelligence (Erez et al., 2013). There should be a blended organizational culture, which should respect each and every employee. The cross-border leaders in Australia are expected to direct a diverse group of employees, originating from different cultural backgrounds.
The leaders in Australia believe in the fact that group dynamics is an important role in the practice of global leadership (DeChurch et al., 2013). The various management approaches and different leadership styles should be adopted by circumstances as well as group dynamics. The judgment can affect the behavior and values of the individual working together in a group. The leadership styles are affected by the varying perceptions of the colleagues, superiors, and subordinates. The similar norms, relations, behaviors, and roles are kept together in a group, and the group is an entity, which acts as individual entities. The key for cultural innovation is the group dynamics (Hogan & Coote, 2014). The team size has a direct impact on the group dynamics and the patterns of leadership. For example, a large team size demands an autocratic or formal leadership for the purpose of direction. The dynamic cross-cultural competencies are crucial for global managers and leaders, which can be improved by the characteristics of personality as well as the development of cross-cultural experiences.
The act of the influence of the attitudes, thoughts and behaviors about a global community so that they can work together is known as global leadership (Caligiuri & Tarique, 2012). The aim of the global leadership is to work together towards the accomplishment of a common goal. There are six crucial dimensions of global leadership. They are traits, values, cross-border relationship skills, global business expertise, cognitive traits, visionary skills and the expertise of global organizing (Caligiuri & Tarique, 2012). The global leaders should be able to influence as well as set themselves as a role model to motivate the attitude of the employees. The global leaders should enable the global community to achieve the common organizational goals.
The leadership patterns in Australia consist of transformational leadership and charismatic leadership. The charismatic leaders are known to possess divine personality who can perform miracles (Tsaur et al., 2014). The leaders influence the teammates with exceptional qualities. The charismatic leaders are known to arouse great levels of enthusiasm and a certain degree of commitment in the followers (Tsaur et al., 2014). They present a compelling vision so that they gain the confidence of their followers. The charismatic leaders are best suited for managing cross-cultural diversity because they have innovative ways and effective methods of performing managerial tasks (Tsaur et al., 2014). They can bring radical change in the organizations by their out of the box thinking, and they believe in the achievement of unusual success.
The transformational leadership has a wonderful capability of inspiring and transforming his followers by a unique appeal of their job role (Herman & Chiu, 2014). The transformational leaders make their team members aware of their value as well as importance in their day to day work. This type of leadership is suitable for the cross-cultural managers as there are diverse job roles, which needs to be performed by the employees (Herman & Chiu, 2014). The cross-cultural leaders induce a sense of self-interest in the job roles of the fellow employees, which increases their productivity rates (Muenjohn, 2015). The increased productivity rate is beneficial to the organization. The transformational leaders develop their concerned team to shoulder a wide range of responsibilities (Muenjohn, 2015). This is done by instilling a level of confidence and skills among the fellow organizations, which drives to give better performances (Muenjohn, 2015). The followers get motivated by the leader, which is very important in a culturally diverse organization. The team members depend on their leaders for guidance, cooperation, and inspiration (Muenjohn, 2015). There is an increased level of commitment, motivation, encouragement, enthusiasm, and empowerment, as a result of transformational leadership, which makes it a popular leadership style for managing a diverse workforce (Soieb, Othman & D'Silva, 2013). The Australian population has a belief in the transformational leadership as they found it very suitable for managing diverse organizations.
It is an important job duty of the managers to manage effectively the culturally diverse workforce. The organizations in Australia are culturally diverse and comprises of employees from different backgrounds. In such diverse organizations, there are instances there are gaps in the communication process. The different cultures have different organizational culture, which influences the performance of the employees. The communication is a vital process in a culturally diverse workforce. The work teams located in diverse geographical locations need to interact with each other on a regular basis. This is discussed in detail in this paper. The various communication challenges faced by the cross-cultural leaders are also discussed in detail. The patterns of the cultural differences are discussed. The cross-cultural leaders need to take care of the ethical aspects of the business. The various types of unethical activities that are observed in the workplaces are discussed. The different measures that are taken by the leaders to minimize the unethical activities are also explained. The mix of leadership styles that are displayed by diverse workforce leaders is also discussed. This paper will broaden the knowledge base of the organizational behavior displayed in diverse cross-cultural organizations.
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