Cultural dimensions – a framework for cross-cultural communication

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Culture provides the context within which people in organizations interact with one another and the world surrounding them. Many of us work routinely with people from other cultures and backgrounds. Often this goes well, and the cultural differences are interesting and enriching. However, sometimes things go wrong, for reasons that we may not understand. This is where it’s important to understand the differences between cultures, so that we can work with people more effectively, and prevent misunderstandings.

Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner’s Seven Dimensions of Culture, http://www2.thtconsulting.com/about/people/fons-trompenaars/  as well as Hofstede five Dimensions of Culture,http://geert-hofstede.com/ are two gurus within the Organizational Cultural field.

A very popular country comparison tool for different cultures can be found from the Hofstede´s homepage: http://geert-hofstede.com/countries.html

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Dysfunctional team and how to change them so you can get your group back on track

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Have you ever been part of a team that just can’t seem to get things done? Don’t despair; it happens more than you think. Here is a good article from http://www.inc.com, that describes seven of the most common habits of a dysfunctional team and how to change them so you can get your group back on track.

  1. Leadership
    Dysfunctional teams lack a strong leader. A team needs a strong leader to identify the team’s objective, maintain the group’s focus on that end, and drive the team toward its established goal.
  2. Team Members
    Dysfunctional teams often have members more interested in individual glory and less interested in the team’s objective. The goal of the team must always remain the team’s focus. The quest for individual glory is contrary to the very concept of a team. As such, a true team needs members that are concerned only with how they can help the team achieve its goal and not what achieving the goal will be able to do for them individually
  3. Defined Goal
    A dysfunctional team often fails to define its goal. A well-organized team defines its goal or goals from the outset and then sets out a road map as to how to get there.
  4. Equitable Distribution
    Dysfunctional teams disproportionately place too much of the team’s work on a few of its members’ shoulders. This is contrary to the entire concept of the team. If one person is going to do everything, why have a team to begin with? It is wasteful. A successful team combines individuals who come together to accomplish the defined goal and spread the work load evenly across team members. Each person is necessary to achieve the goal.
  5. Focus
    Dysfunctional teams lack focus. They may convene to discuss an issue but get caught up in seemingly endless debate surrounding a general topic while never moving toward an ultimate goal. A team needs to maintain its focus on achieving its defined goal.
  6. Accountability
    Dysfunctional teams lack accountability. They push back deadlines, or worse, they ponder theoretical questions without defined goals in mind. Moving back deadlines or simply gathering to endlessly pontificate without defined goals leads to a lack of accountability. Without accountability, it is easy to lose focus on the team’s goal. A successful team maintains its accountability to achieving its ultimate end.
  7. Decisiveness
    Dysfunctional teams lack decisiveness. Often flowing from a strong team leader, a team needs to be decisive. Consider facts, draw conclusions on the basis of the best available information, and make a decision. A team’s goal must always be to make a decision and then to act to accomplish its goal or make recommendations as required to do so.

Groups vs. Teams

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What is the difference between a group of employees and a team? Are there essential differences? What are the implications for leaders?

As a leader, it’s important to understand Group vsTeam distinction. Your approach to leading will be completely different. For managers to make better decisions about whether, when, or how to encourage and use teams, it is important to be more precise about what a team is and what it isn’t.

A group is a collection of individuals who coordinate their individual efforts. A team is a group of people who share a common team purpose and a number of challenging goals. Members of the team are mutually committed to the goals and to each other. This mutual commitment also creates joint accountability, which creates a strong bond and a strong motivation to perform.

Without purpose and goals you cannot build a team. The purpose must be worthwhile and create a sense of doing something important together. The goals must be challenging and specific so that each member can understand how they contribute to the success of the team.

A well-defined strategic plan outlining the purpose, values, goals and objectives of the team becomes the glue that binds the group together and helps transform them into a team. Participation in developing that plan helps to build understanding, consensus, and commitment. As a leader, you use the plan to set expectations for individuals and the team as a whole.

The power of a team emerges from the sense of community that develops and exerts strong influence on the attitudes and behaviors of the participants. Peer pressure and a desire to be a productive member of the team helps to shape priorities and direct efforts where they will support the team goals.

As a leader and manager, you are no longer limited to managing individuals. You have an opportunity to manage the team as a whole and enlist the support of the team to help manage the individuals.