It is tough enough to build effective teams in today’s workplace. But when you add the complexity of people from different cultures, it becomes a whole new challenge. In a multicultural society like Singapore, it is common to have a team made up of people from different countries, races and cultures.
Being successful as a multicultural team requires new attitudes and skills. Teams consisting of people with diverse experiences can recognize and respond to changes better, and they can bring to the table new ideas and insights too! But research has shown that as diversity increases, coordination costs increase too. This can hamper collaboration attempts and work productivity.
So how can we build a strong multicultural team through team building efforts? In this article, we will take a look at some fun activities that can help build trust, friendships and cross-cultural understanding!
Be rockstars for a day
As the saying goes, music is a universal language. Every culture can relate to music, and different cultures can meet each other through music. That's why we love this musical experience for intercultural team building, because nothing spells teamwork and collaboration like a band practice. At Team Music located in YMCA at Orchard Road, form a band with your colleagues and learn how to play two songs together in just a few hours! Got no musical experience? Don't worry, because none is needed. Just come ready to have fun, and unleash your inner rock stars!
I am, but I am not
Common stereotypes can be very harmful in the work environment. Address stereotypes and claim your identities with this simple activity that can be done in the office! You will need paper and some writing tools. Have your team fold their papers in half to create two columns. On one side the heading will be 'I am', and on the other 'I am not', with the word 'but' in the middle. Your team will have to write at least five statements on their paper. For me personally, one of my statements will be 'I am Asian, but I am not good at mathematics.'
Everyone will go on to share their statements and stereotypes, followed by a debrief session and some thought-provoking questions, such as 'Did anyone's statements surprise you and why?', 'Where did we learn these stereotypes and how can we reduce them in the workplace?' It can also be helpful to ask individuals on their experiences with being labelled with a stereotype, and to ask others in the group if they have heard about that stereotype. This activity goes a long way in helping team members understand and build empathy for one another!
Celebrate each other's cultures!
Celebrating each other's differences is just as effective as coming together over common values. Taskworld has a team of 15 different nationalities, and they've come up with an amazing idea to foster cross-cultural understanding. Shiv Sharma, the Head of Content shares that their team takes part in a cultural experience at least once a week. This means that the French watch Bollywood movies, the Germans learn about cricket, the Indians try Hungarian food… and so much more! What a wonderful way for teams to learn more about each other's cultures and build personal bonds in the process.
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Here at Culturally, we're dedicated to bridging cultures all over the world. We offer many workshops and experiences with a cultural twist that are just perfect for team building! Contact us to find out more!