Creating the right environment for the development of cultural awareness within your organization does not happen by accident. At your next company meeting, make some time for your employees to raise their level of understanding of the different cultures within it. This can lead to a positive impact on the quality of everyone’s life within your workplace.Get Your Employees Involved
Paul Gorski, founder of EDChange, http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/index.html ,
a diversity educational organization, makes the point that when you get your employees involved in cultural awareness activities, it allows people to learn more about each other. It helps them eliminate preconceived notions and myths about each other’s culture, and allows people to become more comfortable with each other. Here is an exercise that Gorski recommends that can be used to develop cultural awareness within your organization.Cultural Awareness Exercise
Ask the participants in the meeting to find someone who they do not know. Ask them to introduce themselves to that person and spend five to ten minutes talking about respect. What does it mean for you to show respect, and what does it mean for you to be shown respect? After the allotted time, ask the participants to return to their seats, and open the discussion. What ideas did people discuss?
When you get the participants back into the large group and discuss the discoveries that were made, responses could include things like:
• Not everyone wants to be treated the way I want to be treated.
• Not all cultures are comfortable shaking hands.
• Different cultures have different expectations in social situations.Learn From Each Other’s Differences
This type of an exercise can help your managers and employees learn from each other’s differences. When people are able to communicate openly about the differences between their cultures, mutual respect, trust and understanding can develop. In addition to the differences, people begin to see how many similarities there are. By structuring cultural learning time into your meetings on a regular basis, improved cooperation and greater cultural inclusion within your company can be obtained.
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Tom Borg is president of Tom Borg Consulting, LLC. He is a business consultant, speaker, trainer and author. He helps companies and organization become more profitable by increasing their value and lowering their costs through the professional development of their managers and employees.