I’ve heard so many clients and colleagues tell me that while virtual work has many positives, it makes rapport-building harder, especially when the workload is heavy. We may be getting things done but much of our work has become purely transactional.
Then add in time zones and cultural differences. Pre-COVID, gaining the advantage from a multicultural team was far easier. Now many teams are just trying to get by.
Now for the good news! We can still benefit from differences, even in this challenging environment. In fact, we need diverse perspectives more than ever.
And while diversity, equity, and inclusion take deep effort and time, we can also build trust across cultures with simple actions.
One such action is acknowledging holidays. Holidays often tie to identity and pride in one’s culture.
In my nearly twenty years of experience as an intercultural coach, this tip has been one of the most effective for building goodwill, which translates to higher team performance.
Here are some suggestions to get started.
- When new team members join, ask them what holidays, if any, they celebrate. Phrasing it this way prevents you from asking about religion, which may not apply to some. You can also ask your current team what holidays are represented in the group.
- Do a quick search on the holiday if it’s unfamiliar.
- Make a note in your calendar.
- When that holiday comes around, simply acknowledge it! This can be through an email, an e-card (just search “e-card Diwali” for example), a phone call, or part of a conference call agenda.
- Encourage team members to share how they celebrated the holiday and even to share photos.
- Consider posting about the holiday on company social media so that other teams can learn about it.
- Asking about holidays may also help you plan your team calendar by knowing when people might be off work.
I’ve seen this simple action have drastic results. People want to be acknowledged for who they are. When they feel included, they feel motivated. And couldn’t we all use a little more motivation right now?
I’ll close by wishing you all a happy Africa Day (May 25, 2022)!
Africa Day is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity on May 25 1963. It celebrates the cultures of the continent, as well as freedom and equality.
Here’s a great article where five musicians share what Africa Day means to them! Celebrating culture: Five musicians share what Africa Day means to them (thesouthafrican.com)
So, what holidays do you celebrate? ????