Effective communication is critical to productive teamwork. It helps team members stay on the same page, resolve conflicts, and meet training goals. Many challenges can get in the way of good communication, and in a multilingual workplace where members come from different cultures, those challenges can be compounded by language barriers.
5 Steps to Improve Communication in Your Multilingual Workplace
You can improve communication in your multilingual workplace by examining your staffing, training, and management strategies. Follow these five steps.
Implement multilingual workplace training. When managers think about language training, they usually pursue training that teaches English to ESL employees. While that’s important, providing training in other languages for your English speakers is also valuable for both you and your employees. In fact, language training is top on the list for employee development topics.
Recruit bilingual employees. When recruiting and hiring new employees, look for applicants who can bring a bilingual skill to the table. The more team member you have who can speak another language in addition to English, the more you’ll be able to improve communication in your multilingual workforce.
Embrace the cultural differences of your workforce. Diversity in a workforce is a good thing when it’s managed well. Bolster teamwork and connections between team members by celebrating differences in your staff. Focus on how cultural diversity creates a well-rounded team that can better meet overall business goals.
Value everyone’s role on the team. Employees with limited English proficiency can sometimes feel isolated on a team. It’s your job as a manager to recognizing everyone’s unique contribution to the team and promote inclusivity.
Set a good example. As a manager, you set the tone for the communication in your multilingual workplace. Your efforts to provide language training to your employees tells them you’re committed to closing the communication gap. Take it even further by learning key phrases in Spanish or another language to show employees you want to meet them halfway.