The convenience store industry has always drawn employees from all walks of life, all corners of the world. But the language and cultural barriers that come with the diversified workforce have resulted in a great deal of tension for operators. The tension is especially apparent when it comes to improving teamwork. How do you build staff unity and mutual respect when often they can’t even communicate with each other?
How to Improve
The first step is changing mindsets. When it comes to team-building, it’s the diversity of ideas that’s important, not the diversity of employees. It’s not just about language, it’s about respecting everyone on the staff. When you can switch the focus from gender, race, sexual preference and religion to concentrate instead on creating a culture that enables all employees to reach their full potential, you create a team that works together for the company’s success.
Invest in diversity training for all your employees. Outline what you deem acceptable behavior. Not only will diversity training help them respect each other, it may help you avoid a discrimination suit.
Teach them about each other’s native countries. It’s not a language barrier, it’s a cultural barrier. And culture clashes often manifest into needling the little problems that could easily be avoided with an understanding of the way things are done “back where I’m from.”
A few other things you can do to help your diverse workforce work together:
- For hiring, learn to effectively interview people from cultures other than your own.
- Watch the social interaction between your staff members to see if some employees are being excluded or offended.
- If it appears some are, ask them, “How do you feel you’re treated here?” and “What can I do to help?”
- For contests and incentives, group employees into teams made up of people with race, gender or other differences — and coach them on working together effectively.
Learn more about online diversity training here.
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