Teamwork in diverse teams is like a global co-operation in small: Different languages, experiences, personalities, contexts, expertise, etc. come together to achieve a shared goal. In order to profit to the maximum in this process, there are a few things to consider, remember and become aware of.
Let me ask you:
What do you think: Who is the driving force in integrating a new team member into the team – the receiving team, the new team member or the team leader? Who creates the team spirit?
Is trust given or to be gained?
Why is this important?
As a team it is essential that there is a foundation consisting of mutual understanding and approach in order to perform well, especially when the team consists of diverse team members. Why is this important? When time pressure kicks in (e.g. deadlines mount), underlying differences in the assumptions of working together (fundaments of how we work as team, what is important) may cause unnecessary frustration, stress and conflict.
What should be the aim as a team to have figured out before the hard work starts?
Based on the brief input previously, one of the main aim of teams should be to create/build a basic, shared body of knowledge about rules/standards/values/etc.
What are the rules, standards, values, etc. of your team, so to say: What is your team culture?
More importantly: Does everyone know it?
Even if you have already a well established team/team that has been working together: Make sure this is clear to everyone. If you get a new team member, assure he/she is briefed. (Tip: New influx of team members is also a good moment to bring “older” team members on the same page again, or redefine rules, standards, values, etc. )
Food for thought:
It is interesting to see that sometimes misunderstanding in intercultural teams raise only after a while. Why? After a while in intercultural co-working surroundings a sense of normality and routine is established. That leads people to act through own cultural behavioral schemata more and more even though the action would still require intercultural behavioral schemata in foreign cultural contexts. The behaviors are consequently mixed and people start to shift their own cultural behavior schemata into the foreign cultural context to interpret the situation. Particularly because that shift happens mostly unnoticeably misunderstandings can arise after a while.