The Global Village

Media guru Marshall McLuhan would have turned 108, this year, yet it’s been 56 years since he foresaw the concept of the ‘global village’, brought on with the phenomenon of electronic media.

Nowadays, we live in a global village whereby employees can work from any corner of the world and still produce outstanding results. We collaborate in global streets, global apartments and global open plans. These are the playing fields of spontaneous ideas, melting pots of diverse work ethics and cultures, that enable businesses to move from local, to international, to global.

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When we think of diversity, ‘race’, ‘gender’, ‘creed’ come to mind. However, a recent study by Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, found that when it comes to defining diversity and inclusion at work, millennials see the concepts through a completely different lens.
Millennials, who will comprise of nearly 75 percent of the workforce in the next 5-6 years, define diversity as a blending of different backgrounds, attitudes, experiences, thought and problem-solving processes. Scientists have coined this phenomenon as ‘cognitive diversity’.

Although these concepts sound good on paper, putting them into practice may pose a fair share of challenges. Different work ethics may cause rifts and cliques, creating more harm than good. The trick lies in employing the correct management and below are a few guidelines to get your thought process going.

Drawing on the employee’s specific strengths

Effective management identifies an employee’s strengths and weaknesses and capitalises on the former. A person may move from weak to mediocre but can move from good to great if you focus on enhancing his or her strengths.

Identify team members’ strengths and lay them out in the open. The acknowledged employee will feel empowered to be identified as the ‘detail-oriented, analytical individual’, ‘creative outside the box thinker’, ‘people’s person’, and the ‘get things off the ground person’. Give it a nice label and encourage team members to refer to that specific person for their area of expertise. This not only boosts self-esteem but extracts the best knowledge, ultimately achieving the best results. The acknowledged employee who puts her heart into the project would be further propelled to move it forward. The secret is in creating emotional attachment.

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Also, as your company evolves, diversifies and onboards new more ambitious projects, resources, rightsizing, building new strategic alliances and employing different skill sets will be required. The challenge here is to communicate, align and match employee strengths in line with the business’ trajectory. This will encourage employees to feel motivated to remain with the company and grow as it grows. Nowadays, no job is for life, yet every business should aim to retain employees for a minimum of two years. This guarantees a certain amount of continuity and consistency in execution.

Creating a free yet respecting environment

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Individuals from different geographic locations have different practices and these should be respected. Morning persons vs. Night owls should also be allowed to work as they please. Yet it is important to create an environment of respect and discipline. Employees from different cultures may have different holidays where they’d like to be out of the office, but this needs to be properly planned as not to cause work to fall behind and extra pressure to be exerted on colleagues who remain in office.

Manage differently

It is good to treat all employees equally, yet the manner of going about it may differ from one to another. Sensitive employees who draw their heart into their work need to be given feedback in a different way than the absent-minded, happy-go-lucky hard workers. Working mothers may want to leave earlier than their single counterparts, but may be willing to work from home when their little ones are put to bed. It’s all in the manner of delivery and of identifying what drives the specific person.

The HR managers’ role will evolve to become strategic communicators. HR managers should be the link between the company strategy and the alignment of that same strategy with the different team members. This is where strong communication must come in.

Unfortunately, one of the main pitfalls is that organisations fail to communicate in the right manner. Communication is key to ensure that all the team members irrespective of their background, nationality, sex or status, embrace the vision and strategy of the company.

When looking at your business, do you have the right communication strategy in place? Are all your team members aligned in terms of the company’s strategy and objectives and is this in line with their personal development goals? What tools do you use to communicate with your employees?
Sensitive to these dynamics, our Embrace programme can identify the diverse synergies within a group and understand the rifts that may occur. Additionally, by going a step further we can help you capitalise on diverse philosophies to extract the best substance and energy to drive your business forward, beyond boundaries.

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