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For any career-driven individual, embarking on a managerial role is the next step to progressing and moving up the ranks in their career. However, being a manager can be a demanding job with a lot of responsibility – especially when you add managing a large, multi-cultural team to the mix. It’s critical that your employees remain at the forefront.

According to research by Mercer, two in five employees plan to quit their jobs over the next 12 months. That said, it’s important to recognize that your most valuable relationships as a leader are with your workforce; as Debbie Lentz, President of Global Supply Chain at RS Components and the Electrocomponents Group discusses below, as a manager you’re also a leader, a mentor, and a coach.

Within Debbie’s 2,000 deep team, each individual works differently and has their own engagement and motivational style. It doesn’t matter how many people you’re leading, how big your team is or who your team is made up of – leadership skills and adaptability to different personalities is key.

Creating and supporting an engaged workforce

According to statistics, 57% of employees report not being provided with a clear direction from their managers and 69% of managers are not comfortable talking to their employees in general. These startling statistics confirm a clear separation in communication from managers to employees, which is not only affecting their work but could also drive employees to quit.

An engaged employee is one who is fully absorbed by, and enthusiastic about, their work – and having a strong relationship with your manager is an important element of that. Engaged staff can lower the risk of turnover and improve customer satisfaction, which is supported with further statistics that reveal highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability.

Building team-focussed relationships

Your management team is responsible for carrying out your strategy, so it’s important that your goals align to ensure you extract the best quality of work from your team.

This is particularly difficult when working amongst a decentralized team; obtaining oversight on a team when you aren’t heading into the office every day means that these managers need to explore alternative ways to keep their workforce united.

Research has shown that 93% of employees said that they would be more likely to stay in their job if their bosses would show more empathy, and also highlighted that 91% of CEOs believe empathy is directly linked to a business’s financial performance. With that said, it’s important that an established strong leader-employee relationship is built.

Relationship building in the workplace should be seen as a marathon, rather than a sprint. Developing trust with your employees is developed over time.

Debbie adds:

“I have found that regularly checking in with my employees is an extremely effective way to gain an understanding of how they work, what makes them tick and allows me to gain an understanding of how each person approaches challenging tasks. As a leader, by making yourself approachable, you can be there to support your team when they need you most.”

24/7 availability is unrealistic, especially for a team of a large scale and across different countries, Having regular touchpoints – whether its face to face or over video calls – are pinnacle moments to gauge what is working for your employees and what areas need work. This is also a great opportunity to set employees clear goals they can achieve ahead of your next visit – therefore keeping them motivated.

Leading multicultural teams

Individuals from different backgrounds, races, and nationalities approach work tasks and human interactions in different ways. Whether your team is across the globe, in one country or in one department, it’s important that managers are respectful of the vast variety of different religious beliefs and cultural customs of the workforce. Further to this, research reveals that inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovative leaders in their market.

Much like many international companies, language barriers are a common challenge. Bridging the gap of communication is not a straight-forward process and requires patience and innovative ways to help people from different countries understand your leadership. Avoid jargon-filled language and, when words fail you, the use of imagery can make a huge difference in understanding concepts.

Debbie recognizes herself as being lucky in her career to travel to different countries and discusses how she has overcome language limitations:

“When traveling abroad, it’s important to be aware of the use of slang and clichés and avoid them, as they may mean different things depending on the cultural background and related language. During my time in Zurich for example, I found my colleagues of German descent spoke British English as a second language, and speaking American English myself meant that I had to quickly adapt and learn their terminology, phrases, and clichés. I had to change my language to respond in a way they would be able to understand.”

Handling a variety of personalities

Across every team, you will encounter a mixture of personalities and temperaments, regardless of nationality. It’s your job to ensure everyone is working as effectively as possible, and working with a range of different generations, personalities, and nationalities requires different approaches.

Initially, you will need to identify the different types of traits your employees possess. After identifying your employee’s personality types you can adjust your management style to their way of working.

As more companies begin to prioritize employee culture, we are seeing a popular rise in team building events. These are a great way to help establish how employees work together on tasks that are unfamiliar to them, therefore helping employers to identify the doers to the thinkers within the team.

Debbie continues:

“Your way of working with individuals need to handled with finesse, for example, is their cultural norm to be more direct with instructions? Or is it more about relationships? Will taking them to lunch and having more of a celebration be the best way of working together?”

Workplace camaraderie is built up from a leader’s willingness to build relationships with their employees on both a cultural and personal level. A positive corporate culture is one that fosters both trust and a willing work environment.

About the author: Debbie Lentz joined Electrocomponents plc, a global multi-channel provider of industrial and electronic products and solutions, as the President of Global Supply Chain in 2017. Debbie is responsible for leading the further development of the Group’s supply chain capability to provide an innovative and sustainable market-leading service for customers and suppliers.

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