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What are Some Experiences of Working in a Multicultural Team?


If you’ve worked in a well-managed, multicultural team, then you’ll know it can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

In fact, high functioning, multicultural teams can be more productive, more creative and – on the whole, more successful than monocultural teams!

For team members with limited cultural awareness, however, working in a multicultural team can be a challenge.

It’s fair to say that cultural differences may well trip them up or cause confusion and miscommunication.

With this in mind, we’ve collated feedback from some fintech employees, who recently attended one of our ‘Working in a Multicultural Team’ training webinars.

These individuals all gave a sense of the potential challenges when they answered the question, ‘What have you experienced from working in a multicultural team?’.

Let’s see what they said!

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At the END of the PAGE, you'll find a FREE SAMPLE of our ELEARNING COURSE for PROFESSIONALS working in multicultural teams!

“I learned I was quite intolerant”

Although I’ve worked in digital technologies for quite a few years, it’s only recently that I joined a multicultural team.

When I started working here, it became apparent that I’m quite intolerant and it would really wind me up when colleagues did things differently to me.

It sounds big-headed, but I kind of felt as though they were doing it all wrong. It took one of my colleagues to point out that we all reached the same place but through a different route.

I learned a lot from this and now try really hard not to judge how people do things now. In fact, I’ve even been introduced to better ways of doing some of my role. I never thought I’d say that but it’s true!

A business team showing trust

Trust is a crucial ingredient in any high-performing multicultural team

Read our 3 Simple Ways to Create Trust in Cross Cultural Teams.

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

“I learned to listen”

I did a cultural awareness training course as part of my induction and we covered a lot on communication differences.

When we covered turn-taking in conversations, I learned that many cultures from Asia, like the Japanese, allow a pause when someone finishes speaking to make sure they’ve definitely finished what they were saying.

Before, I was always looking at where I could jump into a conversation. I definitely wasn’t giving people a chance to finish. In fact, I’d even finish their sentences for them.

I’ve learned now to stop and listen to people and not to assume they’ve finished just because they’ve paused. I actually found that I get more out of things now by listening and not feeling pressured to talk.

“I learned to think about the words I use”

I’ve lived and worked in London for a few years now but when I first came to the UK, I struggled with how my teammates communicated with each other.

In China, we use a lot of body language and we don’t always say things in words. I know now from cultural training, that this is an important communication difference but when I first moved to England, I didn’t know this.

One day a colleague asked if I was happy to travel to Cardiff and I said I was really busy, but I’d make time to go. In China, someone would have known that this meant that I didn’t want to go but my colleague guessed everything was fine.

I told my manager later that in fact, that I didn’t want to go, and she became really cross that the arrangements had been made and asking why I didn’t just say when I was asked. I was really upset but it made me understand that in some cultures it’s different.

I’m really careful how I communicate now. With some teammates, I say everything clearly using just my words and with others, I communicate as I would back home.

Business team in conflict

Conflict is normal in any team, multicultural or not.

Find out what some of the Main Causes of Conflict are in Multicultural Teams.

Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

“I learned to be gentle with how I say things”

Last year, I upset one of my Indonesian colleagues. I didn’t mean to, but I was telling him that I didn’t like the way he’d presented some data.

In Germany, we just say things. It’s not meant to be rude or offensive. Anyway, my colleague looked really upset and the next thing, I heard through someone else that they thought I’d been really rude to them. I thought they were overreacting, but I apologised anyway.

A while later, during the cultural training session, I learned that Americans and Germans can be a bit off the scale, compared to other cultures, when it comes to being direct. This can really offend people who are less direct, for example, my Indonesian colleague.

Now if I’m with one of my German colleagues, then I say it like it is, but otherwise, I’m always careful to think about who I’m speaking to and to give feedback in a way that makes it seem a lot softer and without blame.

Lessons from Working in Multicultural Teams

The one thing that all these individuals have in common, is that they have all been tripped up at some point by cultural differences.

However, with experience and training, they were able to adapt their approach and get better outcomes.

Take a Course on Working with other Cultures

If you want to learn about cultural differences in teams, then why not sign-up for our Cultural Competence eLearning Programme?

Certified and full of practical, business-relevant examples, this course will put you one step ahead and help you build productive relationships which maximise your business outputs.


"I genuinely learnt quite a lot from this course. I usually don't like e-learning and have a bit of a 'roll-eye' feeling towards them, but this one actually taught me quite a lot and had me thinking about my own interactions with others as well as the interactions of others towards me, where I felt offended or degraded, but that... in hindsight, perhaps that person didn't mean it in the way it came across to me.”

Click to open sample of Cultural Competence eLearning Course

Blog image by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

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