The challenge of managing diverse teams
The trend of the world is becoming more and more globalized, with a more complex business environment and competitions, needing to coordinate multi-cultural workforce in projects which have been dispersed geographically. especially in the oil and gas industry, you could have the design team in one part of the world and the construction site on the other part of the world. I used to work in an international engineering company called WorleyParsons, it is located in Beijing China, used to do projects with offices in other countries. For example, the design team which I have worked in had always cooperated with one of our offices in Calgary Canada. We do the designs on the same platform which is the WorleyParsons global server, Beijing office create models for 8 hours, then by the time we get off work and go to sleep Calgary office which is on the other side of the world wakes up checks our models, give comments and continues to create models where we left off and by the time they finish their 8 hours Beijing office is back on duty again. This way of operating oil and gas projects saves huge amount of time in the designing phase, it doubles the efficiency. We know time is a crucial component in the oil and gas project delivery, the oil price changes by time, the sooner we can put on production the sooner we can generate profit for the stakeholders.
Now I would like to show a short vedio talking about the key point which can decide on whether the perfomance is good or bad of different diversed teams.
Maya Hu Chan is a specialist in global leadership, executive coaching and cross-cultural business skills and the founder of Global Leadership Associates.
I strongly agree to her when she said that the key deciding factor that set the differences are how well those differences are appreciated and managed. This is why leader ship is so important in a diversed team to make sure everybody works hard to be inclusive. Then the leader can leverage their differences and utilize them as one’s advantage which could make a organization more creative and more innovative and performe much better than a homogenous team.
“Diversity can be based on various characteristics such as nationality, ethnic, gender and cultural group etc, or on indicators of cognitive diversity such as international experience, education, industry and work experience that can all lead to different perspectives (Financial Times, 2011).”
For example, Nokia’s leadership group is a diverse team of thirteen members. This consists three women, one non-white, six Finns, four Americans, one Canadian, one British and one Australian. Three were born in the 50’s, one in the 70’s and the rest in the 60’s. Their work experience covers Europe, North American and East Asia and their educational backgrounds include engineering, technology, psychology, law, economics and finance from a variety of institutions while the team members represent many functions(Financial Times, 2011).
Research shows that diverse teams produce better performance on complex decisions and problems, just the type of challenges faced by international organizations. The ability to manage a diverse team is increasingly necessary for oil and gas industry, to ensure a global mindset, and for long-term cultural agility. In much of the literature, diversity is seen as balancing the tendency for homogenous groups to think in similar ways (Financial Times, 2011). If different views can be associated and utilized in problem-solving or decision-making, the result is usually better than that of a single view, this is the synergy of working with diverse teams.
Nevertheless, diverse teams can also experience their differences as barriers to communication, so that reaching a common understanding or outcome takes more time and effort, and raises the transaction costs of teamwork (Financial Times, 2011).
According to Mullin, team formation should have features of sharing the commen goal, trust among each other, discipline, good communications(Mullins, 2013).
My conclusion is that a global mindset, often defined as openness and global knowledge, is the hinge to managers and leaders to be successful in such highly interlinked world.
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Financial Times (2011) Diverse Teams Definition from Financial Times Lexicon. Available at: http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=diverse-teams (Accessed: 14 May 2015)
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Wayne Chan (2013) Maya Hu-Chan: Managing Diverse Teams. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wzFy2CpsSk (Accessed: 6 June 2015)