Managers are faced with several daunting tasks of managing diverse teams effectively, especially when employees are not able to speak the native language fluently. Research confirms that communication has a crucial impact on team performance and the primary outcome of the inability of employees to speak and understand the native language results in difficulties in communication (Feely, 2003). Since communication is the primary link between meaning and action in companies, organizations could face constraints due to misunderstood company policies and strategies. Additionally, employees may face misunderstanding and irritation due to the inability to comprehend their managers. For example, strong accents spoken by American or British managers could be difficult to understand by speakers of other languages such as Mandarin, Thai or Vietnamese since these are non-tonal languages (Chen et al., 2006). As such, when managers functioning in diverse environments speak to their employees to motivate them or regarding important aspects related to company strategies, language barriers hinder the communication process as a result of which the outcomes suffer.
Communication barriers when working with linguistically diverse teams:
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- Language could be an important hampering the communication process
- Social and cultural aspects including cultural norms, expectations and other social factors.
Strategies to improve effectiveness in linguistically diverse teams:
Improving the effectiveness of communication within the team would necessitate certain crucial factors, most importantly on the manner in which language is used and the analyses of socio-cultural factors and cross cultural differences which determine special aspects of behaviours between individual performances (Chen et al., 2006).
- Language training is an important aspect which needs to be considered when leading a team of linguistically diverse employees
- Examine the social behaviour and communicative practices of the employees
- Greater awareness and sensitivity by managers of linguistically diverse teams towards the problems which team employees may be facing in the use of English as a foreign language
- Consideration for several difficulties like pronunciation of certain words and sounds as indicators of politeness in the foreign language.
- Awareness of the different varieties of English language which may be used in the organization and the various understanding which may be associated with similar terms
In conclusion it can be affirmed that managers of diverse teams need to realize that perception of communication and important messages rely heavily on numerous factors. These factors include personal experiences, needs, personality and educational levels of the employees and since managers have unclear perceptions of their employees, barriers to effective communication are formed. In order to overcome these barriers, it is essential to use feedback confirm whether employees have understood the information provided. An ideal way of affirming this is by asking the employees how they would carry out a specific task rather than whether they have understood it. Simplification of language is important and managers should choose simple words and sentence structures to ensure that messages have been clearly understood by employees. It is also vital to watch for any non-verbal clues in communication such as facial expressions, to ascertain whether the given information has been clearly understood. Asking questions from the team members during the session is also an important way to confirm that information has been clearly comprehended.