Skip to 0 minutes and 27 secondsJULIA: Now let's move on to the soft launch, a total disaster. They should have brought us on sooner, but better late than never, right? So you've all seen the report that I sent around. I want to get all your opinions. We're going to go around the table. One at a time as usual, and I'll start with you, Ming.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 secondsMING: OK, the report is suggesting a lot of marketing for young audience was the issue. But perhaps, we should investigate this further.

Skip to 1 minute and 5 secondsJULIA: Yeah, how so?

Skip to 1 minute and 7 secondsMING: I think we should take a broader view.

Skip to 1 minute and 12 secondsJULIA: A broader view. Can you give me an example?

Skip to 1 minute and 16 secondsPUVA: Do you mean to look into other factors for the failure apart from just marketing to a younger audience?

Skip to 1 minute and 23 secondsMING: Yes, yes. For example, maybe we can ask, what did the restaurant do to make it different from others? Do you understand what I mean?

Skip to 1 minute and 35 secondsJULIA: Yeah, Yeah. Thank you for that. That's a good question, Ming. And I want to come back to that. But for now, I want to go around the table and get everybody's first opinion. Puva?

Skip to 1 minute and 55 secondsTOM: I agree with Ming and Jess. I still think we missed the mark with the younger audience. It could have been so much better if we had some kind of social media presence.

Skip to 2 minutes and 6 secondsJULIA: Clearly, we all have our own opinions, and that's good. We will need to sort them out before we can plan a solution, so I'd like to come back to your very good question. Ming, you think that the report is too narrow in focus. Is that correct?

Bridging: Recentering

Once team members have prepared and decentered, the final piece in effective communication is to recenter.

To recenter, we need to establish a common view of a situation and shared norms for interacting.

This doesn’t mean that the same behavioural expectations must apply to every team member. It’s about agreeing on a range of acceptable norms for how team members interact with each other.

These norms should help people to participate in a way that is comfortable to them.

How do we recenter?

Try to find points of agreement within the team that you can use to develop shared understandings and goals.

When working on a task, check that members have a shared understanding of what the team is working towards and how to approach it.

Through preparing and decentering, the team may identify areas to set out new norms.

For instance, low context (direct) communicators might be expected to be more sensitive in how they deliver criticism, and to pay more attention non-verbal cues. Similarly, high context (indirect) communicators might be expected to try to avoid ambiguity in conveying messages and help team members to pick up contextual cues.

Remember language and fluency issues

Reflect on the language capabilities within your team.

Are certain team members dominating team meetings due to their language fluency, rather than their expertise? If so, it may be useful for your team to agree on norms that gives everyone an opportunity to contribute to meetings.

To this end, you could:

  • send a meeting agenda well ahead of meetings, so that team members have the chance to plan what they will say and how to express it in their non-native language.
  • deliver important messages in multiple formats, where practical, and follow up on meetings with a summary of the key points in each meeting via email.
  • give team members the chance to contribute before or after the meeting, in case they are not confident speaking during meetings, due to language fluency or other concerns.

Each team will need to decide what norms or expectations will work for them.

The alternative is to miss out on the valuable expertise and contributions of culturally diverse team members.

Your task

Watch the video of our case study team from last week. What bridging strategies can you see them implementing this time?

Have you come across any other strategies that you felt were effective for recentering within your own context?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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This video is from the free online course:

Harnessing Cultural Diversity: Effective Team Leadership in the Workplace

Deakin University

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