Multicultural Issues in Leadership

Abstract
Organizational management is crucial in determining the suitability of
the drives and other factors that determine the attainment of
organizational goals. Part of leadership in present day organizations
translates to managing issues such as multiculturalism, communication,
stereotyping, and diversity. An analysis of Hotel X revealed that the
organization does not have plans and an organizational culture that
support best practices in managing these variables among employees.
Multiculturalism is not fully appreciated, communication is not fully
explored as a tool for improving performance, there is no elaborate way
to manage stereotyping and diversity is not used to strengthen the
organization to the maximal levels. Recommendations for improvements in
these areas are made.
Multicultural Issues in Leadership
Leadership is an important aspect in organizations because it
determines the extent to which the organization successfully achieves
its goals. Organizational management calls for careful management of
several issues related to organizations including diversity,
multiculturalism, communication, and stereotyping. There are different
types of organizations and one of them is the hotel industry. The hotel
industry is steadily growing and as such, these are issues that are
almost inescapable for managers in that sector. While working as a
cashier at Hotel X, I managed to get a glimpse of how the organization
was managing the four issues outlined.
Multiculturalism
The organization that I am familiar with had a policy document that
guided the management of multiculturalism. According to Richard,
Barnett, Dwyer & Chadwick (2004), multiculturalism refers to the extent
to which employees of an organization are heterogeneous in relation to
their cultural beliefs, values, attitudes and practices.
Multiculturalism can either be used as a strength in organizations or
may lead to functionality challenges in organizations if it is not
properly managed.
In Hotel X, the management had come up with policies and strategies for
the management of cultural diversity. The hotel had policies that
prohibited intimidation of employees and colleagues on the basis of
their cultural affiliations. In case there was a report of one employee
intimidating another employee on the basis of cultural affiliations,
disciplinary action was taken and this mostly involved suspensions and
warning letters. Even so, there were minimal cases that called for
these actions. The management focused more on the reactive aspect of
multiculturalism management because most policies and actions targeted
dealing with any issues that signify intolerance of other cultures and
intimidation. The result of this is that though multicultural conflict
was low possibly due to the fear of negative consequences, there was
covert tension that calls for the development and enactment of other
multicultural management strategies. Several recommendations would
support better management of multiculturalism in the hotel.
According to Rijamampianina (1996) people’s beliefs, assumptions,
interests, goals, values and needs are determined by their cultures and
as such, it is necessary to manage multiculturalism in a way that aligns
these variables towards the organization’s goals and objectives or
minimizes their negative influences and maximizes their positive
influences within the work setting.
One of the steps that could be taken to manage multiculturalism in a
better way at Hotel X is improved motivation. The employees have
different interests following their different cultures and according to
Rijamampianina (1996), motivation through appealing to cultural
orientations of employees leads to better performance following better
working environments. This would improve commitment to their jobs and
improve the overall performance of the organization.
Another step that can be taken by the organization is the development
of a comprehensive interaction process. Organizing team building
activities, frequent meetings and other activities that support
interactions will improve understanding between employees, lead to
healthy competition, minimize conflict and disrespect and improve trust
(Rijamampianina, 1996). This would in turn lead to better performance of
the organization.
The next step that can be taken by Hotel X is visioning. Though
visioning is discussed as a separate entity, Rijamampianina (1996) noted
that it is fuelled by the first named steps including motivation and
interaction. Visioning would ensure that the employees work towards
meeting the set goals and objectives rather than focus on the
differences between them. The visioning process is also linked to
learning which would ensure employees at the organization constantly
learn collectively and use the knowledge and skills they gather to make
the organization grow. Learning through workshops, seminars and other
processes would make cultural diversity a strength rather than a
challenge for the organization.
The organization can also come up with better ways to manage challenges
and tensions arising from multiculturalism. Finding the root causes of
the problems encountered and planning interventions would help to reduce
the chances of recurrence.
The processes outlined above are in line with what Dass & Parker (1999)
term as defensive, proactive and reactive approaches to managing a
multicultural work setting. The defensive approach involves reducing the
risk of negative outcomes as a result of multiculturalism, the proactive
approach involves fighting possible negative outcomes of
multiculturalism on a constant basis, and the reactive approach involves
interventions used to deal with issues that crop up as a result of
interculturality.
According to Richard, Barnett, Dwyer & Chadwick (2004), any
organization should try to ensure that the levels of multicultural
heterogeneity are high. This will reduce the levels of conflict and
tension according to these scholars. This is a step that could be taken
by the management at Hotel X because evidently, the level of
multiculturalism was quite low and that increased tension between
different groups.
Communication
Communication within organizations is important because according to
Rijamampianina (1996), it is a major determinant or organizational
functioning. According to Rijamampianina (1996, p. 128) “communication
is defined as a process of circular interaction which involves a sender,
receiver, and message”. Communication challenges are prevalent in many
organizations and they are the result of different factors including the
structures of communication and the heterogeneity of the workers among
others.
At Hotel X, the communication challenges that were faced emanated
mainly from the structuring of communication channels. The organization
mainly had top-down communication and this was not frequent. The
challenges arising from heterogeneity were minimal because all the
workers speak at least one common language. Nevertheless, there were
instances of miscommunication at that level possibly due to individual
variances in understanding both spoken language and other non verbal
cues. There are several steps that can be taken by the management at
Hotel X to ensure that the communication processes are streamlined.
The first step that can be taken by the organization is to develop a
culture of ongoing a free communication as suggested by Rijamampianina
(1996). The company could organize forums through which the managers and
other employees make contributions on the management of the organization
and other matters that relate to them. This will assist in ensuring that
the top-down type of communication which is in the organization is
complemented by horizontal communication and free interaction between
employees. Moreover, other forms of communication including upward
communication and diagonal communication should be encouraged within the
organization as suggested by Spaho (2013). According to Spaho (2013),
improving communication within the organization improves not only its
functionality and results but also reduces conflict. There are instances
when miscommunication leads to conflict and this can be prevented
through proper communication. Moreover, good communication is also
necessary for resolving other conflicts that do not necessarily arise
from communication challenges.
Adapting the different types of communication will ensure that there is
adequate interaction between different parties in the organization and
will improve the working environment by making it motivational.
According to Baker (2002), socialization within organizations is
important in ensuring communication is continuous and that it builds
that right relationships for high level performance. Hotel X could come
up with social events that target building employee relationships and
communication.
Diversity
Diversity has developed into a common characteristic among
organizations according to Amaram (2007). This author noted that
diversity can either be used to make an organization strong or it may
lead to challenges in other instances. In most cases, people from
minority groups are forced to conform to the behavior, beliefs, and
actions among other aspects that define the majority groups (Amaram,
2007).
At Hotel X, the acculturation process was evident because the minority
groups had largely conformed to the expectations and characteristics of
majority groups. This can have either positive of negative effects and
in this case they were negative because the minority group felt that
they were being underrated. The company’s structure and activities
that were planned were more aligned towards the majority culture while
minority ones had to conform to that.
Hotel X therefore recorded lower than optimal instances when its
diversity was fully explored, appreciated and used to maximize
performance and grow the business. While the focus on the majority group
was not perceived as a major challenge, this should not be the case
because according to Amaram (2007), because it leads the members of
minority groups to feel that they are not being treated equally as their
majority counterparts. Overlooking minority groups had negative effects
because it led to clustering along ethnic lines and religious lines.
Those who felt left out spend most of their time together and those who
felt that they were dominant also clustered together. This led to lower
levels of collaboration among different groups. The organization had
captured the need for togetherness in its vision statement, mission
statement, and company management policies but there were loopholes in
the parts of execution. The company can improve its management of
diversity in order to ensure that it benefits it rather than works
against it. Below are recommendations
The main step would be for the company to change its culture as
suggested by Dass & Parker (1999). This means that the company should
change its approach to diversity through coming up with programs and
activities that acknowledge the presence and usefulness of all employees
from different cultures within the organization. The culture of
appreciation for different cultures other than the majority culture
should be established in the organization. This will ensure that all the
employees in the organization feel appreciated, and will increase their
motivation levels plus their performances.
Changing the organizational culture will come with processes and steps
that will support the development of values, beliefs and attitudes that
shun discriminatory practices. The employees will learn to understand
one another and to appreciate their differences. They will also develop
behaviors that support growth in the organization as opposed to those
that derail the organization’s functioning. Changing the
organizational culture at the structural level so that the management
becomes more considerate of people from all cultures would be useful in
ensuring that diversity becomes part of the organization’s strength.
Part of changing the way diversity is managed and perceived in the
organization would also be determined by knowledge levels. It would
therefore useful for Hotel X to plan for training about diversity for
all its staff members as suggested by Dass & Parker (1999). Making these
changes will lead to a better organizational setting.
Stereotyping
Stereotyping is a major challenge in organizations according to Dass &
Parker (1999). Stereotyping is a negative aspect in the organization
because the assumptions made by people are not based on reality. This
means that an employee may be perceived as a bad person or may be
perceived positively just because of what they are associated with
including race, gender, age etc.
At Hotel X, stereotyping was evident and its management was not robust
enough to eliminate it. One particular case involved a young male who
was brought in a new chef and there were other chefs who were a lot
older than him. The new young employee was not given the same chances in
the kitchen to prepare meals as his older counterparts. This was on the
basis of the assumption that young chefs make food that is less tasty or
of lower quality than older chefs yet this had not been ascertained. In
such a case, stereotyping was recorded on the basis of age. The
management did very little to see to it that such occurrences were not
recorded and that they were they were not repeated.
At Hotel X, the stereotyping that was going on was fairly covert so
that the management knew very little about it. As such, most instances
that depicted stereotyping went unnoticed. This was aggravated further
by the poor communication between managers and their subordinates
because they could not report matters freely. This leads to the
discussion of recommendations that will be beneficial to the
organization and the employees.
Dass & Parker (1999) suggest that the management of stereotyping should
first involve the establishment of preventive measures. Preventive
measures in this case would ensure that stereotyping does not take place
to begin with. Educating employees on the need to appreciate one
another’s differences and talents would improve the situation. For
instance instead of a young chef being denied the chance to practice and
showcase his skills, he should be allowed to work without being
disregarded on the basis of his age.
Hotel X should also come up with a better system to manage the events
that depict stereotyping. There aren’t clear directions on how to
manage stereotyping and this leaves the situation open. For example, the
company can come up with a policy document that governs stereotyping and
ensure that all the employees are familiar with its contents. The hotel
should also come up with activities that continuously support
appreciation for one another. For example, team building activities that
enable employees to value each other’s contributions would be useful.
Conclusion
The discussion above has focused on analyzing the way the management at
Hotel X handle multiculturalism, communication, stereotyping, and
diversity and ways through which their management can be improved. An
analysis of the organization revealed that there are aspects which need
to be streamlined in relation to the four concepts discussed. The
recommendations made, target preventing and managing some of the issues
that need to be changed and they include: improved organizational
culture, improved communication, elimination of stereotyping, and
increasing employee’s appreciation for one another.
References
Amaram, D. I. (2007). Cultural diversity: Implications for workplace
management. Journal of Diversity Management, 2, 1-6.
Dass, P., & Parker, B. (1999). Strategies for managing human resource
diversity: From resistance to learning. Academy of Management
Executive, 13, 68-80.
Richard, O. C., Barnett, T., Dwyer, S., & Chadwick,K. (2004). Cultural
diversity in management, firm performance, and the moderating role of
entrepreneurial orientation dimensions. Academy of Management Journal,
47, 255-266.
Rijamampianina, R. (1996). Effective management in multicultural
organizations. Economic Journal of Hokkaido University, 25, 119-167.
Spaho, K. 92013). Organizational Communication and Conflict Management.
Management, 18, 103 – 118.
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