As Administrative Professionals, we are required to be leaders in communication and interpersonal savvy throughout the workplace. Interacting with a multitude of different personalities, communication styles, backgrounds and cultures is to be expected, so naturally we must set an example to help others communicate and work well with those around them. First, we must make certain that we have sharpened our skills to best connect and communicate with our team. Cultural Competence is arguably one of the most valuable skills for efficient workplace performance. But what does it mean to have cultural diversity in the workplace? Culture refers to the 7 Essentials of Workplace Cultural Competence: the values, norms, and traditions that affect the way a member of a group typically perceives, thinks, interacts, behaves, and makes judgments. It even affects perceptions of time, which can impact day-to-day scheduling and deadlines.
Simply put, “cultural competence” is the ability to interact effectively with people from different cultures. This requires individuals to be aware of one’s own cultural worldview, knowledge of other cultural practices and worldviews, tolerant attitudes towards cultural differences, and cross-cultural skills.
As a growing amount of different cultures are working together, the more cultural competency training is essential to avoid any problems that could arise in the workplace. Cultural problems can range from miscommunication to actual conflict, all endangering effective worker productivity and performance. Below are 6 Points of Wisdom (POWs) to help your team embrace and welcome cultural diversity in the workplace.
POW #1 Communication
As mentioned, Administrative Professionals must be proficient in communication, as we become the pathway in which crucial information is carried throughout the workplace. Providing information accurately and promptly is critical to effective team performance. This is particularly important when a project is troubled and needs immediate corrective actions. Being aware of any language barriers that may exist is the first aspect in paying attention when delivering or receiving instructions. It is important to comprehend how instructions are communicated through verbal and non-verbal language that deliver positive or negative reactions. Good communications start and end with clarity and to ensure a positive outcome, remember to get clarification on any areas that need further explanation.
POW #2 Teambuilding
Fostering an atmosphere where everyone can work together in an effective and productive manner is part of being an Admin. We are the beacon it seems, the point-of-contact among so many moving parts (and people). So initiating and leading activities that will help exercise those team muscles is crucial to building trust, understanding and collaborative skill in the workplace. These team-building activities will encourage communication and cooperation from one team-member to another – making it necessary for each person to learn how to communicate with the other to achieve a common goal.
POW #3 Schedules
Navigating the daily timetable is something we are very familiar with in the Admin world – not just for ourselves, but for so many around us. Having the awareness of the different cultural and religious events happening will help us to anticipate when members of our team will be absent to observe those events. This anticipation is an incredibly important way to circumnavigate any potential hold up that employee absence will create which may hinder the progress of an active project or even the daily flow of work. This will allow time to use our problem-solving skills to find a solution that will cater to both the employee and the rest of the workplace.
POW #4 Attitude & Awareness
We all know about a little thing called, “attitude”! We deal with it daily, which is to be expected when connecting with as many people as Admins do. Attitude is about an individual’s perception of something, and their reaction to it. We must be aware of both of those components. Understanding why an individual has a certain perception requires knowing a little about their background and culture, as does understanding their reaction. For example, some cultures are raised to keep their emotions suppressed, which may result in a miscommunication if you were raised to be more expressive. It is important not to make snap judgments about the way you perceive someone to be reacting – you must examine why. Sometimes, this is as simple as asking clarifying questions. The bottom line is to understand that communication is a little different for everyone and giving them the chance to be understood makes a world of difference. We can lead that wave of learning to understand.
POW #5 Knowledge
We’ve all heard that saying, “the more you know”. As Admins, continued learning and education is important to us – it motivates us and drives us to reach goals and help others. We have many opportunities to educate those around us – this is where you can get creative. When it comes to learning about different cultures, reading does a world of good. Make time to examine publications from around the world, as well as podcasts or blogs about cultures. These days, the resources for learning are vast. Maybe you’ve noticed that there is a large portion of your office that is bilingual. Create activities and opportunities to learn those other languages. Maybe a language a month and encourage others to learn through activities. Embracing cultural aspects that are dear to those team members around you will not only make them feel included but valued.
POW #6 Skills
The goal of training – in awareness, attitude, and knowledge – should be skills that allow organizational leaders and employees to make cultural competence a seamless part of the workplace. The new work environment is defined by understanding, communicating, cooperating, and providing leadership across cultures. Managing cultural diversity in the workplace is also the challenge for organizations that want to profit from a competitive advantage in the 21st century economy. Whatever ways you decide to educate your workplace about valuing the cultural differences around you, those efforts will help to promote an accepting and welcoming atmosphere in your office. In turn, you will notice how this change in attitude will create forward motion, leading others to communicate efficiently and work together towards success!
Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer, who was an administrative professional herself, and her teaching style is grounded in authentic office experience. AdminUniverse™ can help you improve yourself, widen your skill set, and advance your career.