A Whole New World: The Role of Leaders in a Multicultural Environment

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Take a look at your workplace, is any of these familiar: some if not all members of your team are located in another city or in another continent even; your work group is composed of people from different departments and report to different managers, coming in at different shifts, maybe speaking different languages; your entire team shares one office but when you interact and work together, it sometimes feel that you all come from different planets, with misunderstanding multiplying the time and effort it takes to get things done.

A new  challenge is beWoman Having Birthday at Working faced by leaders today,  how does one manage employees’ perception that they are isolated  from co-workers and are set apart at work and how do you maintain  productivity and morale as offices feel  less like an employee’s home away from home and feels more like an  impersonal and technology- driven paper factory? Remarkably, these feelings of disengagement are brought about by our growing reliance on technology to communicate, on the need to work with others across distances and on the growing diversity in a workforce that is not just increasingly global in culture but also  becoming a mix of people from four different generations.

Last November 12, the Rotary Club of Pasig East through Past President Ammie Llona, invited the Green BOX Learning Solutions Team to talk to its members and guests about this leadership challenge. The Green Box Team delivered a short but well-received talk titled “Leading in a Multicultural Environment”  for the audience composed of  entrepreneurs, people leaders  and managers from government agencies, community organizations  and businesses.

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The speaker des1cribed what are commonly known as  “Virtual Teams” , work groups who, while having shared goals and responsibilities, has the added challenge of having to  see and talk to each other mostly through electronic media like phone, e-mail or web chat.  Members of such  teams are usually  divided  by physical distances  such as geography, site location and /or time zones  or  work shifts.

The part of the talk though that generated the most interest was the discussion on the  psychological distance that may exist  between the members of a Team even when they are in the same location and sharing the same shift.

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The Green BOX speaker described the conditions that cause  geographical distance, operational distance and affinity distance and the effect of each on the employee and on the team’s ability to collaborate and work smoothly together.  During the presentation, members of the Rotary Club of Pasig East and their guests took notes and frequently nodded, perhaps recognizing the effects in their own teams and companies. The talk ended with practical steps that a leader can take to  reduce the effects of physical distance.

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Among the techniques a leader may use to reduce physical distance were: scheduling  meetings fairly and maximizing the benefits and uses of face-to-face interactions. To bridge operational distance (which occurs when technology fails, is abused and /or is inappropriately or incompetently used)  leaders may discourage multitasking when over the phone, communicate more precisely and use a commonly understood language avoiding jargon and acronyms.

Affinity distance (which is brought about by differences in social status, culture and lack of a pre-existing  personal  relationship among members)  may be mitigated  by appreciating individual accomplishments and skills, providing opportunities for informal interactions when members can network, connect, and share personal experiences and establishing a culture of respect for various communication and working styles.

IMG_0814The short talk emphasized the  importance of having a diverse team capable of providing for everyone’s benefit  a wide range of work experience, different approaches to problems, creativity and innovative thinking that may not be possible in a  more homogenous work environment.  Such diversity  can be found built-in into virtual teams ready to be maximized.  business womanHowever, since such a diversity may bring out conflict among members, especially in a  geographically spread team,  it is a Leader’s  responsibility to  establish and promote an  environment  that  is  open and inclusive, embracing  and appreciating  individual members and  sustaining warm personal relationships even across distances.

For our host that evening , The Rotary Club of Pasig East, itself is an organization  of great diversity bound by a common need to be of service to their community, the talk was  both an eye opener and a helpful learning add-on to their weekly meeting.

This blog is authored by Majalla Gabrielle “Gabbie” Silverio. Gabbie currently works as a Learning and Organization Development Consultant in TGBLS. She had HR L&OD career experience in industries such as the BPO and Automotive. A graduate of B.S. Physics in U.P. Diliman, Gabbie enjoys writing for the TGBLS blog, reading, and playing as the favorite aunt to her grade 1 niece, Miko. 

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You’ve got a Green Box Mail!

Filipinos are known for their warmth and hospitality. This should make Customer Service a cinch but how can the caring and concerned attitude be shown through non-face-to-face interactions with internal and external customers? Communications provider, PhilCom wanted their Sales employees to demonstrate customer orientation and effective service even through e-mail and The Green BOX Learning Solutions Team was there to assist them as designer and facilitator of “EFFECTIVE SALES COMMUNICATION TRAINING.”

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Using a simple but powerful model of Message, Medium and Measures, the PhilCom Sales Team analyzed real life e-mail. By comparing their responses against standards and principles, they were able to identify points for improvement and rewrite clearer, more professional and customer pleasing email communication. The learning experience was rounded out with the module on Artful Listening where they gained a new, learning-oriented approach to this most important but commonly underrated and badly-practiced skill.

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At the end of the training, PhilCom Sales Professionals went through a practical skill assessment and wrote his/her own responses to actual customer inquiries. By applying the guidelines they learned, the PhilCom Sales Team ensured that they can seamlessly transfer their experiences and skill they gained to the workplace. In the end, the customers and the business win again.

Finding our “Happiness” @ Coca-Cola Far East Limited

TGBLS found its “happiness” when it partnered with Coca Cola Far East Limited (CCFEL)  last August 1st when it facilitated a workshop on Effective Business Email (EBE) at the Bonifacio Global City.

EBE Participant Manual

EBE Participant Manual

(L-R) Toni, Marga, Carl and Sheila

(L-R) Toni (TGBLS Facilitator), Marga, Carl and Sheila

There was a high level of engagement from the participants and resource-wise, everyone was ready with their own laptops (very timely and what we exactly need to carry out the workshop activities).

EBE - CCFEL Participants

EBE – CCFEL Participants (L-R) Sheila, Juvy, Maria and Royce

EBE- CCFEL Participants

EBE- CCFEL Participants (L-R) Marga, Carl, Sheila and Juvy

TGBLS is grateful for the support of CCFEL Project Team composed of Sheridan Simbulan,  Matt Trotter, and Kirsten Co. We look forward to collaborating with your team again.

(L-R) Sheila, Juvy, Maria, Trina Llona (TGBLS Learning Consultant), Royce, Sheridan Simbulan ( CCFEL Service Center Manager, GBS HR – Pacific)

(L-R) Sheila, Juvy, Maria, Trina Llona (TGBLS Learning Consultant), Royce, Sheridan Simbulan ( CCFEL Service Center Manager, GBS HR – Pacific)

(L-R) Sheila, Juvy, Maria, Toni Cielo (TGBLS Learning Consultant(, Royce and Sheridan Simbulan (Service Center Manager for GBS HR - Pacific)

(L-R) Sheila, Juvy, Maria, Toni Cielo (TGBLS Learning Consultant(, Royce and Sheridan Simbulan (Service Center Manager for GBS HR – Pacific)

Interfacing with Customers Talk for PFPMOA and PCAP

TGBLS delivered a talk on “Interfacing with Customers” before an audience of close to 170 Service Technicians from different Pest Control Vendors country-wide last July 24th at the Auditorium of the DCIEC Building, NIA Compound, EDSA, QC. The Skills Enhancement event targets to improve knowledge and skills of Service Technicians both on the job and on their personal wellness. The affair was hosted by PCAP or Pest Control Association of the Philippines, which is part of the umbrella organization – the Philippine Federation of Pest Management Operators’ Association, Inc.(PFPMOA). This is the first formal gathering of Service Technicians this 2013.

Interfacing with Customers Talk by TGBLS

“Interfacing with Customers” Talk by TGBLS with a captive audience of close to 170 Service Technicians representing Pest Control Vendors in the country

TGBLS was invited to deliver a 2-hour talk on “Interfacing with Customers”, a key component in ensuring success for the Service Technicians who carry their company badge during their actual service delivery with their Clients. It is the 2nd time that TGBLS partnered with PFPMOA this year, the first was just a few weeks before this event (Team Effectiveness Workshop, also featured in this blog). The participants were engaged and openly participated in the activity. They freely shared their own personal experiences, both as service providers and as recipients of service during the plenary discussions.

Audience during the TGBLS talk on "Interfacing with Customers"

Audience during the TGBLS talk on “Interfacing with Customers”

Special thanks to Mr. Jessy Aquino, Charter President of the Federation and Training Coordinator and Board of Director of PAPFI or the Philippine Association of Professional Fumigators, Inc., Ms. Emy Paulate, Vice President, PCAP, Mr. Elmer Baradas, President of ENTOM, Mr. Vic Young, Secretary, PAPFI and Mr. Uly Dagan, President , PFPMOA. 

(L-R) Mr. Vic Young (Sec. of PAPFI), Toni Cielo (TGBLS Facilitator))

(L-R) Mr. Vic Young (Sec. of PAPFI), Toni Cielo (TGBLS Learning Consultant)

(L-R) Mr. Elmer Baradas (Preseident of ENTOM), Toni Cielo

(L-R) Mr. Elmer Baradas (Preseident of ENTOM), Toni Cielo (TGBLS Learning Consultant)

Learn more, Be more Campaign of TGBLS

Today we released our first TGBLS ad under our theme of “Learn more, Be more!” campaign via our social media channels (Facebook, Google Plus, Linkedin and the like). We used the wisdom of Paulo Coehlo to support our campaign as his beliefs on life, journey, and destiny are fitting to our thoughts on individual and team development.

Through our campaign, we hope to inspire all of you in your journey towards self growth and organizational excellence.

Row your way to TGBLS

Photo credit: http://www.berecruited.com/high-schools/minnesota/stillwater/stillwater-senior/girls-rowing

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The Green BOX Learning Solutions (TGBLS) Facebook Business Page went live last Feb 10, in time for the Chinese New Year celebration.  It generated a good number of “likes” a little before midnight, and is still counting.  Thank you to all who “liked” and “shared” our pages. It feels great to be “green box connected”!

Keep sharing our FB page: https://www.facebook.com/TheGreenBoxLearningSolutionsInc (or click the link on top of the blog title).

You can also follow us on Twitter: TheGreenBoxInc

Follow our blog at http://www.thegreenboxlearningsolutions.com.