It is known that there are five major challenges faced by managers of multicultural workforces and those managing in cultures other than their own. They include communication challenges, religious challenges, timing condition challenges, social class and power challenges, and challenges connected with training process in the multicultural workplace.


Today communication plays an important role in the corporate world, especially interpersonal communication that helps to run business. (Kedem, 2005) Those employees who do not have good communication skills can face tough communication challenges in the workplace which cause lack of understanding between employees and loss in productivity. That is why it is very important for any manager of the multicultural workplace to pay attention not only to the use languages and logic, but also to non-verbal communication, gestures, and posture. (Zhao & Parks, 2002)

One of the major challenges faced by managers of multicultural workforces is connected with language barrier and lack of logic. Today it is very effective to use linear logic in the workplace. (Cultural Diversity in the Workplace, 2011) Non-verbal communication is of great importance when language is a barrier to effective communication in the multicultural workplace. It is possible to use gestures and postures in order to explain something or to give a response. However, it is very important to remember that some gestures and postures can mean something different to each culture. For example, for Americans, eye contact stands for the sign of focused attention, while in other cultures, including some African cultures, Japanese, and Latin American cultures, to lower eyes means to show respect for an elder person or a superior one. The well-known sign “thumbs up” gives approval for Americans, but this sign is a vulgar gesture for Greek. That is why it is necessary for the manager to study the cultures of all employees who work at the multicultural workplace. (Cohen, 2004)


It is found that in many cases managers of multicultural workforces face challenges based on religious issues. It is very important to understand the significance of religion in the multicultural workplace where the employees belong to different religions. The managers should not only respect their employees’ religious convictions, but also they should comply with federal and state laws on religious discrimination in the workplace. (Brown, 2011) It is known that religious discrimination in the workplace is prohibited under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and under the employment law statutes of the states. This prohibition refers to all aspects of employment, including hiring and discharge, promotions and demotions, compensation and leave policies, layoffs and so on. (Brown, 2011)


Some managers of multicultural workforces face challenges connected with timing condition. It is found that the majority of projects have a so-called “schedule slippage”. The challenges of many managers are to find the appropriate approaches to the schedules and tasks in order to complete this or that project on time or, in other words, to respond to the deadlines. In this case, the manager should have individual approach to each employee in the team, taking into consideration his or her cultural background. (Ford, 2004)

In this case, it is also very important to take into consideration the fact that different cultures can perceive time differently. There are two time system categories: monochronic and polychronic. The monochronic time system is when different things can be done one at a time. In this case, time is segmented into some small units. So, under this system time can be scheduled, arranged and managed in the workplace. The polychromic time is when several tasks are successfully done at once. In this case the scheduling system is rather fluid. (Bluedorn, 2002) That is why prioritizing in the workplace, it is necessary for the managers to remember about monochromic and polychromic employees. For example, Americans are known as monochronic people who can perform one task at a time, while the employees of Arabic cultures and Latin Americans are known as polychronic people who can perform many tasks at once. (Cohen, 2004)


One more important challenge the managers of multicultural workforces face is connected with social class and power issues. Fundamental issues of power and control in the workplace threaten the employees’ solidarity. In many cases, they result in the employee’s rejection of change. According to Psychoanalytic theory, “the individual’s impulses to maintain identity lead to the resistance of other structures”. (Schreiber, 1996) Therefore, multiculturalism in the workplace, develops the so-called “paradox of democracy”, which “postulates individual unlimited freedom to develop the self but strips individual identity by mandating that all are equal regardless of factors such as race, sex, religion, national origin, and age”. (Schreiber, 1996)

Moreover, social class challenges can reduce employees’ performance and organization’s productivity. As class is defined as “the individual’s relative status according to his power, income, position and wealth”, social class matters are of great importance in the multicultural workplace. (Nayani & Stringer, 2010) The obvious distinctions between working class and low-income, middle class employees and upper class in the workplace are also closely connected with gender and race, sexual orientation and religious issues, employees’ age and location, or immigrant status. Class-based segregation in the multicultural workplace may even generate the feelings of guilt for those employees who come from more privileged positions or the feeling of shame for those who come from less privileged positions. (Nayani & Stringer, 2010)It is also found that in most cases social class issues are hidden elements in the workplace, and they need to be discovered. The employee’s experience of class influences his behavior, values and performance. (Ingram, 2006) In addition, face saving has an enormous impact of communication in multicultural workplace. For example in Indian communication style, it is necessary to avoid embarrassment to elder employees and to people of different cultures, while in other cultures it is allowed. (Pakiam, 2007)


Today there is an increasing pressure on staff at the organizations of all sizes “to perform quickly, perform well, and adapt to change in a heartbeat”. In this case, the effective training is of great importance. (Phillips & Pulliam, 1997) However, there are a lot of challenges for managers to conduct training in a proper way. Some of these challenges are based on the managers’ personal development and skills. First of all, the managers who conduct training should help existing employees to develop their skills and abilities in order to improve organization’s productivity.  Without employees’ training and growth, an organization “can become stagnate and lose the ability to separate itself from competitive companies”. (Shaffer, 2010) Moreover, the employees will not be ready for upward movement in the organization what can lead to failing at employees’ promotions over the lack of career advancement in the organization. That is why the major challenge is to motivate employees. Secondly, the managers who conduct training face the challenge connected with identifying high potential of employees in team. High potential employees are those employees who are ready to demonstrate their ability “to contribute at a greater level”. (Shaffer, 2010) That is why managers should identify these individuals, using assessment tools. Thirdly, the managers who conduct training should keep their employees engaged in the work and in training process. The employees should feel comfortable in their positions in the multicultural workplace. The managers of multicultural workforces should respect their employees, their culture, their beliefs and traditions. (Shaffer, 2010)

The above mentioned challenges faced by managers of multicultural workforces and those managing in the cultures other than their own should be handled by means of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory. This theory helps managers of multicultural workforces to understand cultural differences. The main five dimensions of Hofstede’s theory include Power distance, Uncertainty avoidance, Individualism / Collectivism, Masculinity / Femininity, and Confucian dynamism. Each challenge discussed in this paper can be related to this or that cultural dimension. For example, power distance is related to social class and power challenges, while uncertainty avoidance can be related to timing condition challenges,  and individualism/Collectivism dimension is related to face saving. (Le Baron, 2003)

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