Cultural diversity in organizations is one fact that should not be overlooked. When properly managed, various benefits accrue; however, poor management of cultural differences in organizations results into interpersonal conflicts, misunderstandings and communication breakdowns, and failure of the organization to achieve its goals. Some of the major benefits of cultural diversity to an organization are greater invention and innovation, better decision making, and better achievement of the organization’s goals in areas of marketing. For the maximization of these benefits, organizations should aim at achieving the multi-cultural synergy in the work place. Described herein is a business plan of an Organization Development (OD) process that helps an individual or the organization to achieve the multi-cultural synergy in the workplace. The plan includes all the elements, the timeline, and the audience.
The OD process involves conduction of a needs assessment and the implementation of the changes towards improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the interaction of workers and how workers complete their tasks. This work is aimed at identifying the ineffective organizational behaviors and provides the approaches of implementing solutions as collaboratively determined by the workers and the managers.
For an organization to resort to an OD process, it must have the need for change, or identify a problem that needs a solution; in this case, the need is to achieve multicultural synergy in the work place. The nature of the situation is assessed and the organization then plans on how to intervene. After implementation of the intervention, the intervention is evaluated by gathering the required data and determining whether the progress is satisfactory or needs further intervention. This process continues until the desired results are achieved.
The process involves a series of both extensive and intensive interviews outside and inside the organization with the customers, the employees, the vendors, and other relevant parties. The feedback session then follows, where the results of the survey are forwarded to the leader, and then to the entire staff. The agreed changes are then implemented. This requires the participation of all the involved parties and the organization at large. After implementing the changes, evaluation and modification is carried out continuously until the objectives are met (Cummings, Worley and Waddell, 1995).
Increased diversity necessitates that organizations transform to a multicultural model, which is usually characterized by pluralism, integration of the members of the minority culture, absence of discrimination and prejudice, and minimum or lack of conflicts. The OD process described herein helps an organization in achieving the aforementioned conditions, thereby creating an environment where every member contributes fully in achieving the organization’s objectives.
The Plan, the Elements, and the Timeline
Once the organization has identified the need for achieving multicultural synergy in the work place, it sets out to evaluate the situation.
The Evaluation and Needs Assessment
The main information source is the interview. The staff members are to be interviewed on their opinion on the organization’s multicultural nature, and the tools that can be used to promote this. Depending on the nature and size of the organization, this can run for a period of one day or months. Consultation of the external sources like customers and vendors is also important. A one on one interview results in first hand information. The duration of the assessment of the situation depends on the results of the interview. After assessing the situation and the suggestions of the concerned parties, an intervention is planned.
The Implementation Plan
The nature of the intervention depends on the type of change that is desired. It includes trainings and development, team building, structural interventions, individual interventions, among others. The implementation process can run for one week or even one year.
The Implementation Process
The implementation process puts together all the suggested tools for change. Such tools include those for creating pluralism; and the training and orientation programs which help in valuing or managing the cultural diversity training. Such programs include awareness and skill-building training (Breakthrough Inc., 2008). Awareness training makes it possible for deeper understanding of diversity and gives the information on workforce demographics. The skill building training, on the other hand, provides very specific information about the cultural norms of different groups and their influence on the work behavior. The role of this training is to improve and appreciate the cultural diversity in organizations. Some specific data is collected as the implementation process continues. These data is necessary for the evaluation of the change goals. Evaluating and proper management of the diversity training is a very crucial step in change efforts. The gathered data should measure the changes in the knowledge and competencies of the individuals. These data measure the effectiveness of the intervention.
Full structural integration can be created through educational efforts. Other tools include affirmative action programs and career development programs which provide career enhancement advice and fast-track career paths for the minorities. Revamping reward systems is another tool that creates structural integration. This tool ensures that the performance appraisal and reward systems of the organization strengthen the importance of cultural diversity. The effectiveness of revamping reward systems demands that attention be given to the effective management of diversity and reward criteria. Performance measure is of utmost importance. Other equally important tools include Benefits and Work Schedules, Creating Integration in Informal Networks, Creating a Bias-Free Organization, formation of Support Groups, and creation of Focus Groups (Taylor, 1991).
Trainings aimed at bias-reduction normally create attitude change. This is also an important tool that can be used to enhance cultural diversity and reduce conflicts. In reducing discrimination, Leveraging Internal Research can be used as a very important tool. An evaluation can be conducted to ensure that employees get comparable pay and equal treatment. A bias-free organization can also be achieved through formation of task forces. The task forces monitor the organization’s policies and practices so as to avoid cases of unfairness.
Intergroup conflicts can be minimized through conflict management initiatives. Interpersonal conflicts are however, inevitable are considered as healthy for any organization. Excess conflict is however destructive if not managed properly. In order to avoid intergroup conflicts, survey feedbacks are implemented. Conflict-Resolution Trainings also help minimize the conflicts.
The training program
Described hereunder is the training program, as part of an OD process, aimed at creating awareness, minimizing conflicts, and reducing bias in the workplace. Various sources of literature from several organizations are used as the training materials.
Objectives of the training
Awareness creation training
Creating awareness on the benefits of proper management of cultural diversity, and the most likely problems that can accrue if cultural diversity is poorly managed.
The training enabled the employees appreciate their cultural differences.
Conflict management training
Making the employees appreciate both intergroup and interpersonal conflicts and provide the possible ways of minimizing the conflicts.
The employees identified the best possible ways of reducing conflicts.
Bias reduction training
Creating equality i.e. minimizing favoritism and reducing bias.
The employees learned the benefits of equality in the workplace.
A proper application of the above tools and strategies in an organization development process surely makes the individuals and the organization achieve the multicultural synergy in the workplace. The length of the OD process depends on the nature and size of the organization. After the above training, the students appreciated the cultural differences in the workplace and identified the possible ways of reducing conflicts and promoting equality. The training was indeed successful as all the objectives were met.
Breakthrough, Inc. (2008). “Making Changes That Dramatically Improve Results.” Strategic Initiatives for Results. Retrieved at http://www.breakthroughinc.com/media/Strategic%20Initiative%20article.pdf
Chaminade, B. (2005). “The workers divided.” HR Monthly, October, p. 29.
Cummings, T.G., Worley, C.G., and Waddell, D. M. (1995) “OD Interventions: Strategy and Structure.” Organization Development and Change, 4th Ed. Mason, Ohio: South-Western College Publishing.
Glassop, L. (2002). “The organizational benefits of teams.” Human Relations, 55.2, pp. 225-249.
Taylor, Cox. (1991). The multicultural organization. Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 5 No. 2. The University of Michigan.