Tải bản đầy đủ - 0trang
4 Managers’ Perspectives on Respect and Empathic Understanding in Multicultural Teams
Managers’ Perspectives on Respect and Empathic Understanding …
18.4.2 Question on Understanding
What do you think about the effect of “an approach that aims at deep understanding
of individual’s feelings, meanings, and thoughts”?
Please indicate whether it contributes
just a little
not at all
to the success of the multicultural team.
Here, the respondents made use of all the response options except “not at all”:
• Just a little: Project management is about getting the goals of the project
completed on time and within budget. Focusing too much on a deep understanding of individual feelings is a distraction from that purpose, because it
drains needed time and energy away from the core reason that the project team
exists. If project team members require a lot of special attention from the project
manager and the other team members, then they should be replaced immediately
with more professional teammates who do not require the additional time and
attention to be productive.
• Somewhat: Very few leaders have this. It depends on the purpose and leadership
• Moderately: It does improve the success of the team but takes a long time if you
manage a large team. Not always practical
• Moderately: It is not virtually possible to attend [to] each individual’s feelings,
meanings, and thoughts. Anyhow, if it is possible, it should be done for
• Signiﬁcantly: Because, the visible part of people is just like an iceberg/the tip of
[the] iceberg. The main part of the iceberg, maybe ﬁve-sixths of it underneath,
consists of their feelings, thoughts, values, concepts, and coding. I need to go to
that level and approach them accordingly. The leader/manager who understands
people’s worlds of emotions will be 100 % successful.
• Signiﬁcantly: This is the most difﬁcult one to achieve, because it takes a lot of
time and effort, not to mention a signiﬁcant amount of managerial skill.
Individuals will get more motivated as they see their inputs are being valued at
its deepest level and a feedback loop will result that will increase the efﬁciency
of the output multiple-fold.
• Signiﬁcantly: Project managers should pay attention of contributors’ feelings,
meanings, and thought. Otherwise, it is impossible to become a team and run in
the same direction and target all together
• Signiﬁcantly: It is needed to maintain at the beginning of the business operation
as a project team culture. If it cannot be developed at the early stages, there will
be signiﬁcant effect on business.
Transforming Communication in Multicultural Contexts
18.4.3 Question on Empathic Understanding
Can you describe what “empathic understanding” means for you? Do you think that
a manager should try to empathically understand her/his employees? What would
that mean, in your view, and what could be the beneﬁts or risks?
• Emphatic understanding means to try to understand the people by taking into
account their world. It is something a manager deﬁnitely needs to do. If you
perceive somebody with his/her background and try to look at events as he/she
would, as well as if you protect the interests of him/her, then you have already
established a successful communication.
• Yes, this is very important. A manager has to have an appreciation for what is
important to others. Without it, there will be a frequent and widening communication disconnect. I believe an empathic understanding will automatically
follow from the behaviors explained in [the previous] questions and is mostly
about listening, showing an interest and displaying that your understanding is
based on understanding the individual as a whole. And yes, a manager should
certainly use these tools and display these values. The beneﬁts are numerous
again as explained above, and I cannot think of any risks.
• Empathy is an important component of effective relationships. A manager
should try to empathically understand her/his employees. It always helps the
project manager to understand the situation better. I don’t see any risk since the
project manager still can use her own judgment in the process of making
• Yes, of course, a manager should try this. This will help the team member to
possess the project and also will make him/her feel that he is not a “slave” which
should do whatever requested from him/her. On the other hand, too much
empathy should not create an environment where decisions cannot be taken due
• Balancing getting the job done and empathic understanding of the members of
the team is what makes a good manager.
In summary, this research shows that managers of multicultural teams are pretty
well aware of the core principles of transformative communication. The majority of
them seem to be attuned to a realistic balance with business goals. We conjecture
that this is a very welcome “healthy” step in the right direction, even though actual
practice still may require maturation of attitudes and skills.
Transformative Communication as Providing a “Meta-Culture” …
Transformative Communication as Providing
a “Meta-Culture” for Multicultural Groups
So far, we have presented evidence that the very basic principles of transformative
communication apply regardless of any particular cultural background.
Furthermore, they were shown to facilitate communication in teams whose members are of diverse cultural origin. This is due to the person-centered mind-set
underlying transformative communication that acknowledges self-organizing principles of people and systems and requires interpersonal attitudes and skills based on
meeting the other at eye level of personhood (Rogers 1959; Kriz 2008;
Motschnig-Pitrik et al. 2013). These traits are optimally complemented with a good
command of a shared language and knowledge about diverse cultural habits, patterns, and preferences.
In order to conceptualize and delineate the function that transformative communication carries in an organization or a project, let us resort to a simple yet smart
model of the typology of diversity support in organizations according to Avery
(2011) (see Fig. 18.1). To characterize diversity support, Avery distinguishes two
dimensions: endorsement and activism. While endorsement captures the attitude
toward diversity which can be either supportive or opposing, activism serves to
characterize the level of activity devoted to either supporting or opposing diversity.
This typology allows one to distinguish four quadrants, ranging from active
opposition over silent opposition and silent endorsement to active support or
championing of diversity.
So where are we going to position transformative communication in that
structured typology? Whereas a communication style or practice such as
Quadrant 1: Silence
Quadrant 2: Championing
intervenes to promote
Quadrant 3: Subtle Resistance
potential source of
Quadrant 4: Flagrant
Fig. 18.1 The typology of diversity support in organizations (shortened from Avery (2011,
Transforming Communication in Multicultural Contexts
transformative communication per se does not determine an organization’s or
project’s strategy toward diversity, intriguingly, the values propelled by transformative communication rule out the quadrants that encompass opposition and allow
us to position transformative communication in the upper two quadrants: silent or
active support. The level of activism, indeed, would depend on individual project
characteristics such as its duration, complexity, the level of diversity in the team,
and the leadership style, in resonance with several of the project managers’ statements above.
Invitation to reflect:
Do you consider the typology helpful for localizing your projects’ or organization’s position in the area spanned by the axis of diversity endorsement
and activism? Can you give reasons why you like or dislike the
Which level of diversity endorsement and activism do you aim at in your
projects? Is there a difference across projects? What are the features that you
consider as indicative for the placement in the typology?
What are visible signs of a healthy communication culture? To what degree
are they present in your work environment?
When trying to distill the features of transformative communication that most
contribute to its diversity-endorsing character, the fact that it embraces both respect
and facilitative openness would be pivotal. Taken together, these two features
counter prejudice and rigid preconceptions while furthering the loosening of constructs based on the moment-to-moment encounter and dialogue with colleagues
Transformative communication is often a nonlinear, experiential, and mindful
process toward the often extremely challenging goal of mutual understanding.
When reached, we tend to be rewarded with a feeling of pleasure, indicating the
“proper” direction of moving forward on the agendas we are following more or less
In a nutshell, the investigations undertaken lead us to propose transformative
communication as an unfolding interactional “meta-culture” of interpersonal
relating (Lago 2011; Motschnig-Pitrik et al. 2013). This level exists beyond, or side
by side with, “traditional” cultures and business goals and needs that all must be
respected while none can be ignored. It emerges when people manage business
objectives with a sufﬁcient space for self-organization, congruence, respect,
inclusion, and encompassing understanding of each other in their work environment. Leaders and managers who wish to actively build communication skills in
their multinational teams will ﬁnd a small activity in Resource Box 18.2.