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Positioning your Value in the Job Market

In this tough job market environment, candidates who know the importance of positioning themselves to meet the needs of a company and do it wisely will have the shortest searches. But before you update your resume based on the latest self-marketing fad, ask yourself these questions (your answers will improve the likelihood that the new job will last).
What is your sweet spot? That is, what do you do very well that you also really like to do? If you haven’t figured that out, take the time to do so before you look for your next position. It will make your search more exciting and the job you get a much better match. You can start by creating a list of the things you usually make time to do even if you are exhausted. Be as specific as possible.
If volunteering comes to mind, think about what part of that effort you enjoy most. Is it organizing events, mobilizing people, doing research, writing, facilitating, accounting, or sales? These skills should be your keywords when doing job searches—even if you haven’t used them at work or in the recent past. They also should be the strengths you write about in cover letters and resumes and talk about during job interviews.
What sets you apart from other applicants with similar skills? Often, these differentiators reveal themselves through past accomplishments. What have you done at work or elsewhere that made you proud? If you analyze what you did, what personal characteristics become apparent? For example, some problem-solvers arrive at their solutions through persistence while others do so thanks to their creativity.
What characteristics make you who you are? If you aren’t sure, ask others who have seen your work. What do they think you do well or is special about you? They have probably noticed some things you might take for granted. But do not forget that being bilingual and bicultural also set you apart and provide added value if the employer serves the Latino market.
What companies need people with your top skills? Job postings using your keywords also will help you with this question. But you also should do some research through recent articles in trade publications and websites so you can spot trends and needs that can best help you position yourself. Perhaps more importantly, talk to people in your field and in your industry to corroborate your findings—and to connect with others who might become important networking contacts.
If you can’t join them, at least participate in some of their events or follow and contribute to their blogs. (FYI, networking is the major reason why people become involved in professional associations. But if you don’t know what you need, you can’t ask for it.)
Why do those companies need people with your skills? This question goes hand-in-hand with the previous one, and the answer can be obtained using the same tools; research and networking. Your objective is to uncover the major issues companies are facing so you can position your skills (your sweet spot) as the best solution to those challenges. For example, a hospital may need someone who can manage multicultural teams. How can your bilingual and bicultural skills add value given your past managerial experience?
How do you communicate your value? Once you do all that homework, you also must be able to communicate how your strengths can help a potential employer—first through your resume and later during the interview. While we Latinos are discouraged from tooting our own horn, today’s hiring managers will likely eliminate anyone who appears to lack self-confidence. To avoid that perception, prepare a script that includes all the ways in which you can meet the needs of the companies you identified.
Practice telling the script to mentors, past colleagues and bosses, and anyone who’s willing to hear it and provide you with feedback. If the thought still makes you uncomfortable, consider using third-party comments. For example, “my past supervisors have said that my consultative skills made me an excellent accountant.” Last but not least, show passion for the work you want to do. Employers often overlook a missing skill or two if they connect with the candidate and sense their enthusiasm.

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Why Hispanic employees quit – best practices to reduce Hispanic turnover

If your organization wants and needs to hire Latinos, you probably spend much time and effort — not to mention money — recruiting such employees. But if your Hispanic hires leave before you have realized a return on that recruiting investment, you really aren’t meeting your objectives.
So, how can you stem the turnover tide?
Understanding why Latinos (and other diverse employees) leave is the first step. But if you wait until the exit interview, you may never find out the truth. In general, diverse employees are reluctant to share what drove them away because their strong relationship orientation makes them less likely to say anything that could offend anyone. Like others, they may only say that they are pursuing better opportunities.
That is always a real possibility, but in discussions with friends and colleagues, and in the many career management workshops I have conducted over the years, diverse employees often give other reasons for why they left previous employers.
Some of the top reasons that Hispanic employees leave an organization are the following:

  • They feel excluded.Without buddies or mentors to offer guidance and open doors, the workings of the internal culture of an organization can remain a mystery to Latinos and other diverse employees. What compounds the problem is that Latinos often are reluctant to ask for help (What if they should have known the answer already? How can they be sure of the helper’s intentions?).When employees lack such basic information about their workplace, they can’t get what they need to get their job done. Without this guidance, they don’t learn key factors that can boost or derail their careers. This includes: figuring out what it takes to succeed internally, navigating office politics, and understanding how others view them in terms of performance and behaviors.How can you help? Meet your Latino employees halfway. Offer them your knowledge of the organizational culture, but also ask them what they think they need to succeed. Sometimes they just want to feel acknowledged and respected for who they are.
  • They feel stuck.Others are passing them by and they don’t know why. When that happens, some Latinos and other diverse employees may assume it is because of their race, gender, ethnicity, or whatever makes them different from mainstream America. Whether subtle or overt discrimination is the culprit depends on each individual situation, but employees also play a role in that failure to thrive.Employees who don’t self-promote adequately — and minorities are among them — miss out on opportunities because they either shy away from talking about their accomplishments or because they boast without offering proof of what they can do. Either extreme, lack of self-confidence or arrogance, quickly removes candidates from consideration for plum assignments or promotions. Managers who teach their reports how to talk about their strengths are key to retaining valuable employees. Urge employees to talk to others in the organization about their strengths in a positive manner.Another reason employees feel stuck is that they don’t truly understand their options. If they believe that career growth can only happen by moving up, they may miss out on lateral moves and enrichment opportunities that could advance their career in the future. Explain to your diverse employees that no one makes it to the executive suite without having a wide variety of experiences, and help them figure out what those experiences can be in your organization.
  • They feel their talent is underutilized.Latinos want to contribute their unique talents (perspective, knowledge, solutions) without giving up their cultural identity. If they don’t know how to turn their unique abilities, such as bilingualism and biculturalism, into decision-making and revenue-generating leadership roles, they could get pigeonholed into positions such as mediating and translating instead of purchasing, product development or anything that contributes to the business bottom line (providing greater opportunities for advancing further up the corporate ladder).Brainstorm with your minority employees about ways in which the organization can best take advantage of their talents.
  • Unwillingness to take the next step.A large part of Latino cultural identity is derived from group affiliation. That is why Latinos usually place family and community above all else in their lives. This is often in conflict with corporate America which is individualistic and highly competitive. Some Latinos will not relocate because of their community roots or accept positions that would prevent them from spending time with their families.Think about what you can offer these employees: Telecommuting? Extra vacation time? Your creativity may be the motivation that keeps Hispanics employed, engaged, and highly productive within your organization for many years.
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Action Steps for Developing Latino Leaders in your Organization

Organizations wishing to attract Latinos and other diverse professionals for top-level management positions often find themselves competing for the same candidates, most of whom are already employed elsewhere.
But it is also important to identify the talent that already exists within your organization. After all, these diverse employees already have the institutional and cultural knowledge that newcomers lack. Developing Latino leaders is clearly a win-win situation.
Here are some ideas for developing leadership potential in your Latino employees:

  1. Help your diverse employees take ownership of their careers.
    Is there an organizational structure that supports career management? If so, do your diverse employees know how to navigate it? Do they understand the potential paths available to them, given their own desires and your organizational realities? While this practice is good for all employees, it is particularly helpful to Latinos and other diverse professionals who may not be familiar with the organization’s unwritten rules.
  2. Make sure managers have frequent career conversations with diverse employees — not just performance evaluations.
    Do these managers know what matters to their employees? What value do they bring? Whats skills do they want (and need) to learn so they can become the leaders the organization needs to succeed? Some Latino employees may not readily share their desires, whether it is a desire to learn a new skill or to apply for an internal position. They have been brought up with the expectation that their efforts will be recognized and rewarded on merit alone. Encouraging them to share their career goals is the first step toward meeting them halfway.
  3. Provide training opportunities.
    When managers identify skills gaps, make it possible for your diverse employees to learn those skills. The return on this investment is clear when you consider that it promotes loyalty and engagement. Diverse employees who feel the organization cares because it invests in them are less likely to be lured away, even by tempting offers.
  4. Analyze the leadership skills that diverse employees already have.
    Many diverse employees develop and demonstrate their leadership capabilities through volunteer activities in community organizations or religious institutions. They also exhibit them through the roles they play in their Employee Resource Groups. Help them figure out how to transfer those skills into the work arena.
  5. Create opportunities to broaden your diverse employees’ experience base.
    People who make it to the executive suite have usually worked at different levels in their organization, in a variety of different capacities and with a wide range of individuals. Offer your diverse employees the chance to make internal moves and to take on stretch assignments. This fosters professional growth and gives your employees the organizational perspective needed to take on leadership responsibilities.
  6. Connect your diverse employees with a variety of potential mentors and networking opportunities.
    Help your employees to understand that it is appropriate–and expected–for them to seek other people’s help, even if they only know them professionally. Diverse employees in general (Latinos in particular) can be reluctant to ask for assistance for fear that people may think that they are incompetent. And they are especially uncomfortable “asking for favors” when the individuals whose help they might need are basically strangers. Explain to them that true networking, and even mentoring, is about reciprocal professional relationships.
  7. Teach employees to accept feedback non-defensively.
    Diverse employees often work under self-imposed pressure to do their jobs better and to work harder than others. This is because they fear that their mistakes may be generalized to all people in their respective groups. Reassure them that this is not the case and prove it by providing objective feedback (with examples) from which the employee can learn and grow.
  8. Provide opportunities to increase the risk-tolerance of diverse employees.
    The same fear that makes some diverse employees feel defensive when receiving feedback also leads them to be more reluctant to take necessary risks at work. But that old proverb “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained” really applies here because leaders must take risks. Help your employees practice this skill through a framework that teaches them how to analyze their fears and allows them to take calculated risks.
  9. Make sure the existing leadership in your organization also increases its risk-tolerance.
    When it comes to promoting diversity, especially in the inner circles of an organization, many majority managers become uncomfortable. They feel apprehensive when considering candidates for high-visibility positions who aren’t like them and who may work in different ways. Unless current leaders are able to shift their risk-tolerance as well, the leadership pipeline will remain scantily populated with diversity for some time to come.
  10. Be supportive when opportunities for advancement arise.
    When leadership positions become available, encourage your diverse employees to apply.
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Hispanic Marketing Basics – Segmentation of the Hispanic Market

To succeed in Hispanic marketing, we must understand that all Hispanics are not the same. It is true that we all carry either Latin American or Spanish heritage in our blood, but this is the only variable that won’t change (some may say this is cutting us short but let’s use this definition for the purposes of this discussion). As discussed in previous articles, there are certain cultural characteristics that you need to be aware of to better understand the Latino frame of mind:

  • Degree of intimacy
  • Level of interaction
  • Social harmony
  • Personal contact
  • Respect for authority

These are extremely important and a great starting point for truly connecting with Hispanics. Then again, the Latino community is so diverse that if you limit yourself to only these general characteristics, it will still be quite challenging to effectively and efficiently reach out to the market you specifically are trying to attract.
You also need to be aware of additional variables that influence Latinos, both as distinct groups and as individuals. Here, in no particular order, are some of the traits to consider when identifying the group (or groups) of Latinos on whom you will focus your marketing efforts in order to tailor a message that resonates with them:

  1. Country of Origin or Heritage: There are many differences between Hispanics, depending upon the person’s country of origin or heritage: Food and music preferences as well as the Holidays they celebrate are some of the most obvious. The actual words they use to describe persons, places, actions and things can vary immensely as well.
  2. Language Preference: What is the actual language that your target group prefers? Do they usually speak and read in English or Spanish? Are they fully bilingual or closer to either end of the English-Spanish language spectrum? This is of utmost importance when developing your message. Will you talk to them exclusively in English or Spanish? Will you talk to them in both languages? Will you utilize Spanglish (code-switching)?
  3. Generation:  A completely different worldview depends on how many generations away Hispanics are from their country of origin or heritage. First generation (foreign-born) Latinos have experienced life outside the U.S., have gone through the immigration experience, and to different degrees, have embraced or become acquainted with living in America. Second generation Latinos encounter the mixed experience of being born and growing up in the United States as well as being brought up by immigrants; thus they are heavily exposed and influenced by their parents’ culture. Finally, Latinos who are third generation and beyond are the sons and daughters of U.S.-born parents. Although they are very much influenced by the general market, they still connect to their roots through the values, traditions, and culture passed on by their parents and grandparents.
  4. Place of Residence: Latinos living in different parts of the country have completely different life experiences. It depends on the size of their city or town, its demographic composition, and how much or little interaction they have with fellow Latinos. Hispanics living in Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, or New York have a vastly different experience and easier access to all things Hispanic than if they reside in Boise or Billings.
  5. Sociocultural Level: In most cases, foreign-born Latinos obtain a higher income level and greater buying power than they experienced in their home countries. Still, even while their wallets or bank accounts tell one story, their buying habits and overall lifestyles could tell a different story. Their mindset may cause them to retain financial habits learned in the past, meaning they may be spending less than their buying power would indicate. In other cases, immigrants may arrive in the U.S. with a high sociocultural and economic level and broader world-view, which creates a completely different set of needs.
  6. Acculturation: How much have Hispanics modified or adapted their attitudes and behaviors as a result of contact with mainstream America? What new systems of thought, beliefs, emotions, and communication systems have they embraced to exist in a new cultural environment without abandoning their heritage?
  7. Assimilation: While often used interchangeably with acculturation, this is actually the process of giving up a cultural heritage and becoming absorbed into the mainstream culture. How much have Latinos “forgotten” about their heritage in order to see themselves as part of a larger national family?
  8. Income Level: In general terms, the higher a person’s income level (this applies to all people, not only Latinos), the likelier they will have their basic needs fulfilled. The wants or needs addressed in your targeted marketing message will need to take this into consideration.

As you can see, a combination of all these distinct variables defines the Hispanic group (or groups) that you will focus on. A good way to understand the interaction between these variables is considering each as an element of a matrix, and the point of intersection of all these variables defines the part of the market you are trying to reach.
As mentioned before, this analysis could be executed down to an individual level, but for marketing purposes, it is completely cost prohibitive and would deliver a dreadful ROI. The idea behind this explanation is that you need to perform your due diligence and understand where the majority of the people you are trying to reach land on this matrix, modifying your message according to this insight.

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When Bad Hispanic Advertising Happens to Good Companies

Unfortunately, many companies miss the mark when advertising to Latinos. Usually, it’s because corporate decision makers are not paying close enough attention to their Hispanic marketing efforts. They simply don’t understand or carefully consider Hispanic cultural nuances when planning their outreach efforts.
Whether they are Spanish translation errors or subtle (sometimes not-so-subtle) cultural misinterpretations, these marketing mishaps are a waste of advertising dollars, often requiring additional investment to “clean up the mess” and start fresh with a whole new campaign to reach this market segment.
Some classic gaffes from the past:
When translated into Spanish, the Dairy Association’s astoundingly successful “Got Milk?” advertising campaign asked Latino consumers “Are you Lactating?”
During the Pope’s visit to Miami, a local T-shirt company printed shirts that read, “I saw the Potato” because in Spanish the article “the” can be either masculine (el papa) or feminine (la papa); on the T-shirt they used the feminine, which describes the tuber rather than the head of the Catholic Church!
In the late 1970’s, Braniff Airlines tried to promote their all-leather interiors by translating the English slogan “Fly in leather.” Unfortunately, the literal translation invited Spanish-speaking passengers to “Fly Naked.”
Blunders from more recent years:
    1. Cincinnati Radio Station WLW – “The Big Juan” Billboard
In early May 2007, Cincinnati’s WLW-AM launched a billboard campaign throughout the city featuring a man with a dark mustache dressed in a traditional Mexican outfit, complete with a Mexican flag and a donkey. The headline read “The Big Juan,” which was intended as a humorous play on the station’s branding as “The Big One.” Someone inside Clear Channel Communications (WLW’s owner) should have been sensitive to the fact that this campaign could offend the growing Hispanic population in town (which it did).
    2. Tecate’s “Cold Latina” Billboard
Back in 2004, Labbat USA, the U.S. Distributor or Tecate Beer, came up with what they called a tongue-in-cheek billboard for Tecate, meant to publicize the fact that the beer was now sold in bottles, rather than only in cans. It showed a chilled, ready-to-drink Tecate bottle along with the phrase, “Finally, a Cold Latina.”
This example illustrates the importance of truly understanding the Hispanic culture before advertising to reach this demographic. Critics felt “the ad propagates negative stereotypes of Hispanic women as being loose and overly sexual,” but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The family is extremely important to Latinos and any offense to a family member is certainly not appreciated. As a son, husband, brother, and father of Latino women, I found it offensive that a company would imply that all Hispanic women are “hot.”
Most Latinos understand that situations like this usually arise from a lack of knowledge, understanding, and sensitivity, rather than an attempt to offend. Therefore, in general, we tend to cut these companies some slack. No, I won’t stop drinking Tecate beer because of this particular advertisement (I actually love a cold Tecate with salt and lime!), but I would not hesitate to try another brand if their advertising utilized sound research and insight in the development of their message… Hey, I could like it better than Tecate!
    3. Hershey’s “Hispanic Milk Candy”
In 2004, Hispanic pop star Thalia Sodi (Mrs. Tommy Mottola for those of you who have no idea who she is) proudly branded a new Hershey’s line of “Hispanic Inspired” candy with her name. The new line included a candy bar naively called “Cajeta Elegancita.”
There wouldn’t be an issue if the product was being marketed in Thalia’s native Mexico, where the word cajeta has the G-rated meaning of milk candy (loosely translated). Unfortunately for Hershey’s, in parts of Latin America cajeta is also a derogatory slang term for a part of the female anatomy. So if an Argentinean residing in the United States ran into this product at the grocery store, best case scenario he would have a good laugh. Even if cajeta is the real and true name for the Mexican confection, it would have made better business sense to go with the still-in-the-ballpark name of “Dulce de Leche” milk candy, as other companies have opted when marketing this product in the United States.
The lesson businesses should take away from all these examples is clear – when looking for employees whose job responsibilities include serving the Hispanic community, make sure you find individuals who are truly bilingual and bi-cultural. The same goes for outsourcing your marketing and advertising efforts. It is not only knowledge of the language, it’s understanding the differences in meaning that are specific to a particular country or region.
Even more critical is a deep understanding of the culture: knowing what to take into consideration prior to developing a piece of communication, being aware of what could be offensive or otherwise misinterpreted, and having the cultural awareness to find alternative solutions.
Even if this represents a higher investment in personnel for your company, believe me, it will be more than worth it.

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Should Employers Give Hiring Preference to Hispanic Job Candidates?

One very important requirement in today’s business world is being able to interact with an increasingly diverse group of consumers, both culturally and linguistically. In the United States, the largest minority group is of Latino heritage.
As an employer, you may be looking for Hispanic employees for a variety of reasons. You might want to hire staff members who can better connect culturally with Latino clients. You may want employees who can converse with Spanish-speaking vendors, associates, or clients within the United States or abroad. You might be trying to diversify your workforce to better reflect the overall population. Or perhaps you’re trying to fill a specific position and some of the job applicants just happen to be Hispanic. Any of these ring a bell? They should if you are making hiring decisions in the United States today.
A word of advice: please, please, don’t hire someone only because they are Hispanic. You should not be looking for Latino employees solely for appearances or to comply with a strict (and outdated) corporate diversity requirement. Invite them to be part of your organization because they have the attitude and aptitude to get the job done
The one thing that makes me walk with my head held up high is the strong work ethic of Hispanics in general. From the recent immigrant that just joined a lawn maintenance crew to the newly appointed CEO of a major corporation, Latinos are hard workers. They or their ancestors came to this country fully committed to moving upward on the economic ladder and are willing to do what it takes to make it happen.
Assuming that the person is qualified for the position you are looking to fill, when you are considering hiring a Latino candidate, look for that fire in their belly, that determination in their expression, that obvious desire for more. If for some reason these aren’t obvious I’d look at other applicants, Hispanic or not.
Yes, this puts a lot of weight on every Latino’s shoulders, but hey, we came to (or were born in) this country to succeed for our loved ones and ourselves, and to be a role model for generations to come. We have to make a point that we are as good, if not better, than anyone competing against us. If we are not, we don’t deserve to get a job just because we are a minority and a given company needs to fill a certain diversity quota.
After sharing all this with you, I guess the answer to the original issue is quite simple: When a Hispanic is being considered for a position within your company, hire them only if they are the best candidate for the job.

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Time Management in Other Cultures

Managers and supervisors who work with multicultural employees often express frustration with the way some of these associates manage their time at work. Complaints often include an inability to meet deadlines (even when employees said they could), the recurrence of being late for meetings, or the apparent lack of focus on a priority task.
No doubt, such behaviors can have serious consequences on productivity and team morale. But when they take place—not all multicultural employees engage in these practices—cultural differences usually are at play.
Please keep in mind that the following statements are generalizations, which should be used as filters, not as a way to foster further damaging stereotypes. In other words, when confronted with these behaviors and concepts, you should think of them as a signal that you must modify your management style to get the results you need.
Time in Different Cultures
While in mainstream American society we tend to think of time in separate and manageable segments, other cultures perceive time as a flowing commodity that can’t be controlled. People whose roots are in southern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia as well as Native- and African-Americans are in the second category. Typically, they are raised to think of schedules, agendas, and appointments as flexible because involvement and interaction with people are considered more important. That is why they may not exhibit a “sense of urgency” or a “make it happen” philosophy but may use other ways to achieve results.
Thus, it is entirely possible that an employee from any of these cultures, even if born in the United States, may do the following:

  • Miss a deadline because somewhere in the process, a human concern took precedence over the task. This could have been resolving a conflict with a coworker, tending to a family need, or feeling that it was inappropriate to ask for an extension (as this may be viewed negatively) even though all signs pointed to the deadline being unrealistic in the first place.
  • Be late to a meeting because bringing to an end another meeting or activity just because the clock said so would have been rude.
  • Appear to be involved in too many things instead of the task with the highest priority. In other cultures, dubbed by cultural anthropologist Edward T. Hall as “High Context” cultures, people may not concentrate or act on one thing at a time in a linear fashion (e.g., waiting on several customers at the same time as opposed to one customer at a time, as is customary in mainstream U.S. society). Interruptions for them are acceptable so they may take a call just because someone is at the other end of the line even though a deadline must be met. They also may try to solve several problems at the same time. In short, they are the ultimate multi-taskers.
  • View goals as ideals since many other human concerns, along with the elusive time factor, may interfere with their achievement.
  • Seem to agree to do something but don’t. People in High Context cultures are very reluctant to say no, so they communicate indirectly (some describe this as not getting to the point very quickly or beating around the bush) to avoid offending someone or hurting their feelings—or simply to save face. If, for example, the boss asks: “Can we meet this deadline?” the answer could be “maybe” or a qualified “yes,” as in “yes, if two previous projects are completed on time.” The employee may think: If the boss asks this question thinking that we can meet the deadline, I shouldn’t say otherwise in front of others or admit that the deadline is unrealistic given the circumstances.

Adapting Your Management Style
If these issues become apparent, try one or more of the following ideas. Please don’t insult multicultural employees who can manage your expectations by indiscriminately applying these solutions to them.

  • Deal with time-sensitive issues upfront and as a group. If you take multicultural individuals aside, more often than not they will take your suggestions as criticism of their past or current performance.
  • When assigning a task to your team, ask them to come up with a detailed work plan before agreeing to any deadline. This will let them be more realistic in their plans and will allow them to work out differences among themselves. Asians and Latinos, for example, tend to be reluctant to disagree with the boss in front of others.
  • Once a deadline is agreed upon, tell the team that you expect them to come to you if, for any reason, meeting it becomes doubtful. Make it clear that you prefer to discuss these concerns when they surface, not after the deadline is missed. Some multicultural employees may prefer to talk to you in private about their apprehensions.
  • Coach employees who come to talk to you privately about ways to sell their ideas to the rest of the team, or provide a coach or mentor within the team who can perform that function.
  • When an employee seems to agree to do something, especially in a non-committal way, paraphrase until you understand the concerns. In the above example, where someone says yes and adds that two other projects are due prior to this one, you should ask “how will that affect your ability to meet this new deadline?” Remember that questions that require yes or no answers may only get you to a qualified “yes,” which, in essence, means “no.”
  • Provide time-management training but understand that such training is only part of the solution. Personality and culture are tied together and will not change easily because of some tactical help.
  • Pair employees with mentors or coaches so they can become aware of the way things are accomplished (and rewarded) within your organization.
  • Make sure everyone—not just your multicultural employees—knows that performance evaluations will take into consideration how well people meet deadlines to achieve desired results.