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Workplace Cultural Differences: Theories and Action Items

Introduction

Multicultural diversity is a common phenomenon at workplaces in the modern business world because of globalization. As companies expand into new markets, there is a need to tap into the expertise from both local and foreign professionals. Thus, in the end, there is a group of employees from different cultural backgrounds. Human factors and world views of these employees produce conflicting human interaction since they represent different cultures. The management of the situation requires the development of strong interpersonal as well as intrapersonal skills by the leadership. A team leader needs to understand the contextual situations they are operating in and apply appropriate methods for the success of the team. Thus, the current paper, in considering a hypothetical multinational corporation situation, describes action items for solving multicultural problems. The plan is preceded by a theoretical framework of leading multicultural management schools of thought by Hofstede, Alder, Northouse, and Cultural synergy. 

Geert Hofsede theory identifies certain dimensions that generally show variables which indicate preferences over others in workplace environments. The theory considers countries and not individuals in terms of inequality, uncertainty, group dynamics and gender. It presents various views with regards to power distance. According to the theory, less powerful members of the society accept the power distribution situation. The situation takes force from the bottom since the idea is supported from that point as it is from the leaders. The power distance concept explains that societies are unequal but inequality is more in other countries. Subsequently, uncertainty avoidance defines the extent to which the society inducts its citizens to unexpected situations. Avoidance cultures set strict laws to reduce the occurrences of such situations. Further, the theory advances individualism and collectivism by judging the level of integration of individuals in the society. It takes a sweep on family ties and political groupings. There is also masculinity versus femininity that considers the emotional distribution towards gender. In the theory, masculinity is associatedwith modesty while femininity is associated with care especially in countries where masculinity is dominant. In feminine countries, the gap is almost balanced (Geert & Gert, 2014).

The theory from Alfred Alder argues that an individual should be understood in their social settings. Within specific works, Alder advances the theories of personality, psychotherapy and psychopathology. The theories propagate human healing, inspiration and maximum development. That is, when people are encouraged, they feel capable and appreciated hence reciprocate by behaving in a cooperative way. To the contrary, when discouraged, people withdraw, become aggressive and give up. The theory premises that people tend to compensate for their inferiority through actions against others. The theory advances various ideas. It explains that individual lifestyles govern the body and mental actions, and that individual action is motivated by a specific objective which is always success or superiority. The success may be hereditary. However, it is manifested through individual power which quantifies the goal as vague in its course. Nonetheless, the individual operates in a group context such as family, community, human race or planet. Within the community, each person has the ability of coexisting peacefully. However, it holds that the process must be consciously developed. Ultimately, the factors add up to yet another factor, mental health. Mental health is achieved through human connection, personal development, and the urge to contribute to the development of other people. When the factors are less developed, it results in inferiority in persons (Adler Graduate School, 2014).  

With reference to the two schools of thought and the company frameworks, two management ideas can be considered on personal and organizational basis. The skill management approach focuses on the leadership by accepting the need to learn and develop management skills. The strategy accepts the existence of innate personal capabilities that have to be polished by learning for effective management. There are three leadership skills namely: technical, human, and conceptual. Effective administration at the workplace depends on the three leadership skills. It must be noted that skills differ from perssonal traits since skills indicate what leaders can effectively deliver while traits are qualities of leaders. Thus, leadership skills engulf the ability and knowledge to achieve the set goals and objectives (Northouse, 2010). 

According to Northouse (2010), technical skill refers to knowledge about a particular work. It entails specialization, analytical and ability to use industry tools and techniques. Technical skill is vital for middle and lower level management than top management. Human skill is the ability and knowledge about working with people. It is also called people’s skill. It assists team leaders to work effectively with their subordinates and other team heads. Any leader should be sensitive to the needs of their subordinates and motivate others in their decisions. On the other hand, the conceptual skill is the capacity to work with ideas and concepts. It is a communication skill where the leader expresses goals and so forth.

The second management approach is the situational approach that considers leadership in a given situation. Thus, the theory argues that different situations require different leadership structures. Therefore, the leader has to change to the demands of the existing situation. The approach has directive and supportive leadership sub-styles. The team heads have to identify and evaluate the competence and commitment to tasks of their subordinates. The leadership should also be focused on the changing wants of the employees (Northouse, 2010). 

The situational approach integrates the aspects of both the leadership style and development capacity of assistants. The leadership style focuses on the behavior of the leader as an influence to the subordinates. It has both directive and supportive characteristics. Directive behavior assists team members achieve the set objective by effectively communicating the directions, goals, deadlines and evaluation criteria and how the goals are achieved. It is mostly a one way communication of who, what, where and when something is to be done. Supportive behavior helps team members find comfort in themselves, colleagues and the situation. It is a two communication model with responses that social and emotional support requires.

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