How To Train Across Cu Itu res "Special training can be a powerful successfully transition foreign-born help to Hispanic workers into the ranks of supervision when you pay attention and leadership to differences of culture style." By Mariah E. deForest, Senior Vice President, Imberman and DeForest, Inc. [email protected] u '" C ·CIJ ..•...•~ II) <lJ l... 0 u.. I- ::J ••••• ::J about managing are inherited from their cultural traditions. De~ades of the US work force in manufacturing, experience, including much in Mexico, warehousing and construction, have shown that Latin management according to the US Department style can be surprisingly different from of Labor and the Hispanic Research that of the United States. That's why Institute - are supervised ineffectively, the typical U.S. supervisory training 0 As a result, these Spanish-speaking program does not fully resonate with, -0 C workers are not as productive as they foreign-born Hispanic foremen. can, and want, to be. Investing in low cost, low quality <lJ co c co E l... U Many Spanish-speaking employees who today make up about 25 percent of <lJ .0 E The rapidly increasing number of foreign-born Hispanics in American industry has created a critical need for bilingual supervisors who not only speak Spanish but know how to manage a diverse work force. One stumbling ..•...•~ V)- c U) U ta <lJ Vl -0 0 I- ta ~ ••••• c, <lJ l... has been Latin American culture itself, <lJ brought from native countries, a culture u >l... so :I:, that carries with it a different style, outlook and set of assumptions. How 0 best to turn good Hispanic workers into C able supervisors? How best to empower <lJ them to participate fully in achieving company goals? +->~ Vl <lJ l... 0 u.. <lJ is a false economy. Generic courses rarely produce measurable, ongoing improvements in supervisory perf or- mance. What's needed to help foreignborn Hispanics advance to supervisory positions is training that targets cultural impediments to successful job performance as well as promoting cultural strengths. Common practice/communications Many companies have experienced, the drawbacks associated with using bilingual employees to convey instructions to Spanish-speakers. translations Often, the are more impressionistic than accurate. And what's more, little if any useful communication-flows The fact that Spanish-speaking employees may be outstanding job performance as well as promoting cultural strengths. training aimed at the dominant culture workers with great attendance records doesn't necessarily qualify them to be good back from the workers to the supervisors. One-way communication is a poor way to engage workers anywhere, and -0 supervisors any more than it does U.S. questionable w workers - as many plant managers convey critical company and safety ...c .ro l... CO 0 ••••• has been the lack of English fluency. Another, less visible consideration V) e .- block to promoting good foreign-born Hispanic workers into supervision What's needed to help foreignborn Hispanics advance to supervisory positions is training that targets cultural impediments to successful ~ > co have discovered. information. U.S.-born supervisors often are ineffective - and sometimes exacerbate problems - with employees who don't speak English. They.can grow impatient, believing that foreign.~bom Hispanics should learn English translations can fail to For example, one time a plant manager in a cut-and-sew textile operation iri San Francisco gathered all the Spanish-speaking workers into a general meeting to announce a compromise offered to the union during contract negotiations. He often quickly and conform to mainstream used his most proficient bilingual customs. But acquiring English is no employee to interpret his remarks. easy task for immigrants from south' Unfortunately, of the border, where schooling for the the English "compromise" the worker translated working and agricultural classes usually Spanish "compromise," ends at the sixth grade. "firm commitment," While many of the foreign-born into the which means indicating the manager's "firm commitment" to a Hispanic employees who speak wage freeze. Thus the negotiations serviceable English are eager for oppor- with the union were thrown into tunity and promotion, their instincts an uproar.Another time, a super- november/december2010 11 visor, trying to be affable, asked not typical in Latin countries and owner. This is a different concept from a worker to translate "I love your thus not common among Latino- the U.S. "exempt" or "salaried" super- language" to one of the assembly line born supervisors in the U.s. While visory classification, where a supervisor employees. Because. the words have an important aim of training is to derives authority from his position several meanings, the comment was expose American management in the organization's impersonal translated Mexican-origin foremen, just insisting as, "I want your tongue." style to Needless to say, the poor employee that they be more participative or talk was startled and embarrassed. to your employees doesn't work. Earnestly This refers to the importance of a communications often try to have a Latino mindset Spanish-speaker in the personnel office According to the Pew Hispanic Center, seeking to leader's personal strength in gaining so that employee concerns are heard there were and interpreted correctly. the work force in Cultural differences Of those, 54 percent were from Mexico, of which 25.2 million Hispanics in 2008 1}.1million (see Figure 1), were foreign-born. To refer to "cultural differences" is not more than from any other country. to stereotype nationalities When native Mexicans become super- old labels or pigeonholes. seeking to understand Earnestly different serious lapses in communication well as inadvertent visors, they naturally think of supervision in their own cultural terms. cultural points of view will help prevent as missteps. Being Anomer aspect of leadership in Latin America is the cult of "personalismo." Companies with better bilingual or revert to hierarchy. In Mexico, a supervisor belongs to understand different cultural followers, and the term describes the tendency to follow a leader due points of to the force of his personality. In view will help prevent business, "personalisrno'' refers to the rnindset that a boss's authority serious lapses in springs from personally representing communication the employer on the factory floor. So as well as it is important to address the concept inadvertent of "personalismo" in training targeted missteps. at foreign-born supervisors. It's very the rank of "empleado de confianza," helpful to emphasize that in U.S.-style meaning an employee is in a trusted, management, respect for a supervisor alert to cultural differences is what personal relationship with the boss. is ideally conceived as being earned by "cultural sensitivity" means. We want That's why traditionally, whatever a trustworthy and knowledgeable actions to recognize where differences exist supervisor says on the floor there is rather than deriving from a close so as to seek common ground. Mutual regarded as coming straight from the personal relationship with the owner. understanding in the workplace is the sine qua non of fruitful job performance. Orientation (Latin styles) Larin-style supervisors subordinates tend to manage closely, expect willing obedience and often consider verbal input to be back talk from employees. Foreign-born supervisors seem instinc- tively to react to employee complaints as challenges to their authority. In the old country, it's considered unnec- essary, even weak, to have to explain yourself or your orders. To explain amounts to not having the right to give orders, not to be the boss. This is another area where all supervisors need to accept that employee complaints are not challenges to their authority and accept that the supervisor's role is to illuminate, not smother, employee requests for information. Managers in many types of manufacturing assume that the ideal U.S.-style management techniques are valued around the globe. But "participativestyle" management is not universal, 12 Industrial Management notions of just what constitutes Effective training In short, Latino supervisors as ~ell There are differences as well in the Long experience in training Hispanics as any others must learn that they are supervisor's job. Larin-bern super- managers who are accountable for for supervision in many different visors work to solve problems in their own departments but appear to obtaining certain results, results. that plants and industries include the morale of the work force, six elements are necessary to train hesitate to "step on rhe roes" of their peers and others. For example, often rather than simply pushing the work through. Hispanic foremen. L Set benc1unarks. Successful The American difference be reflected in improvement mental performance in productivity, formalized supervisory training will both foreign-born supervisors and hourly employees will avoid calling suggests that in depart- attention to poor quality coming from U.S.-style industrial supervisors ideally a preceding department due to the relate to their employees as facilitators qualiry and on-time shipments. So reluctance to "meddle." Foreign-born in getting the job done, employing before training starts, trainers should Latino supervisors typically see their two-way communication and inter- establish average departmental principal role as carrying out their action. Present-day American-style mance benchmarks boss's directions to the best of their management training encourages with after-training ability. In Mexico, it is considered supervisors not only to allow workers to performance. That will help evaluate have a say. but to recognize suggestions, the effectiveness of the training. unseemly and insubordinate to act independently, query instructions or to 2.. Use answer questions and be informative. perfor- for comparison departmental in-plant examples. take up an issue with a peer supervisor, In other words, engage in partici- Instruction even though the matter may affect pative management, not "If I want tends to work best. Cases based on by the case study method them both. you to know, I'll tell you." Supervisors illustrations This social taboo against "inter- are encouraged to admit when they views and observation will document from workplace inter- ference" sometimes results in a low don't have answers and to be Willing relevant examples so that training is level of interaction among first-gener- to respond to the workers and get an customized to the specific company ation Hispanics on the factory floor. answer. A U.S. supervisor's role ideally and industrial process. The trainer Training that is culturally attuned will includes dealing with gripes and griev- should spend several days in the emphasize to such supervisors ances, getting input on decisions before plant, observing and interviewing an they are final, and making the compro- adequate cross-section of employees that going beyond regular duties to solve problems is an important pan of the mises needed to forge a "team" feeling in order to gather the case materials. job - among the workers. This also includes Supervisors can identify with the an idea that authorizes and justifies peer consultation. explaining to workers how to do the job; problems through discussion of the keeping track of how it's being done; real-life examples. Using case studies Take the initiative checking tolerances, inventory levels of employee production and qualiry All supervisors must learn that their or tracking orders; and being a source problems concretely illustrates to job is proactive and not merely to of information and control. follow the plant manager's orders. For Hispanics, it's important to learn But traditional foreign-born Hispanic supervisors often are not that what is called "overstepping your comfortable with this ideal of U.S.-style bounds" ina Latin country is called management. U.S.-style management "initiative" here, and it is welcomed rarely stands on ceremony, sees nothing by upper management. wrong with (nonunion) Overcoming this common social prohibition managers getting their hands dirty occasionally. requires modeling and continual or with being on a first-name basis reinforcement. with subordinates. Traditionally, When newcomers learn the techniques of modern Latin culture tends to be more formal; problem solving and become adept it's customary in the old country for at employing the fish bone analysis authority figures to inaintain a distance technique, for example, the training ("guardar las distancias") with subor- supervisors the benefits of seeking For information from the hourly work Hispanics, force and teaches the what-and-how it's important of resolving typical problems. to learn that Practical cases are the best way to what is called teach important.supervisory concepts overstepping such as the importance of obtaining your bounds" employee cooperation, of the consein a Latin quences of failing to give proper direccountry tions, or of the consequences of failing is called to listen to employee complaints. "initiative" IIlust~ate the idea of the importance here, and it oflistening to employees with some is welcomed case examples. by upper For example, in a rubber inner tube management. plant in Mexico, tiny air bubbles in the U session becomes a living example of dinates. On the other hand, Hispanic how to discuss common problems. workers are greatly appreciative if their And by authorizing mutual problem supervisor lends a hand. Especially rubber were causing terrible problems solving, Hispanic supervisors in Mexico, this SOrtof supervisory with failures in the field. No one could are empowered to collaborate "unbending" gains enthusiastic figure out the cause. Eventually, the on achieving company goals. employee cooperation .. plant had to stop production entirely november/december 2010 13 to prevent further losses, a significant . cost. Finally; interviews with the final include instruction inspectors/packers The supervisor's job is more than revealed that they tends to be personal. Workers there of their language and origin, should respond most to face-to-face contact in planning. with the supervisor were given cotton gloves to protect pushing todays production through their fingers from the hot rubber the department. or owner. What about bridging the gap Effective training between North American and Latin when squeezing the inner rubes to emphasizes how to plan for inter- American styles of motivation? It is detect any bubbles. But employees departmental workflow. Supervisors very useful to expose the foreign-born complained that the gloves wouldn't must watch for schedule snags, supervisor to a psychological approach let them feel the bubbles. Eureka. The anticipate employee problems and to employee motivation. Exposing problem was solved by adding more still meet management's the new supervisors cooling time to the curing process so schedules. And training must include Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and role- final inspectors wouldn't have to wear the how-to's of peer cooperation: playing various related motivational production gloves. Management and the supervisor specific techniques of dealing with involved learned the hard way to listen other supervisors, production techniques sched- From case examples of employee (even behaviorist theory) can open the door to an important new way of thinking. ulers, engineers and inventory-control . to the workers. to, for example, 5. Focus on goals. The personnel without losing face or besrway blunders, manufacturing supervisors authority. As explained above, an to combine cultures so that dissimi- can best internalize the lesson that important area for Latin supervisors larities lose importance - the primary function of discipline is is feeling free ro address mutual work Hispanics correction, not punishment. Discipline problems with other supervisors. ethnic groups - is to focus training on achieving company goals. is a way to educate the worker on how to All this can be taught, bur not by improve and function better. This lesson lectures and not overnight. Effective can be explained so that its acceptable training should include all the tools of to authority-minded true-to-life case examples, simulations, individuals of any and to help successfully supervise all Goals can be emphasized byelucidating the elements of getting there by stressing the steps in the process. . nationality by emphasizing that what videos and homework. Supervisors Focusing in on what the company and is wanted is employee cooperation, not tarring and feathering. should have homework: They should department apply each lesson to actual situations encourages workplace teamwork and are trying to accomplish on the floor and report the results to creates the opportunity going supervisory training posed a each other at the next training session. acceptance. hypothetical role-play situation to A close connection between learning A Los Angeles plant under- for mutual 6. Speak frankly. Finally. to help and practice best ensures that the foreign-born Hispanic supervisors visors. The supervisors took turns lessons will be carried our on the learn how to manage - playing the roles of supervisor and plant floor. 4- Using the authoritarian follow instructions - weekly one-an-one conferences with four pairs of Hispanic-origin super- employee in a simulated disciplinary meeting case. Instead of punishing Another important the employee for walking around the visorytraining mode. not merely they need regular, their direct boss. Discussions should object of super- be frank, and supervisors should be should be to promote .floor, the supervisor was supposed to the constructive exercise of aurhority encouraged to bring up their and their discover, through questioning, that as opposed to following the old employees' problems. The impor- the employee was looking for an Allen strongman political model. By showing wrench that the supervisor should and explaining production From case ranee of this type of meeting is that it examples of reinforces the training and provides an tasks to have been responsible for. But in every workers instead of just barking orders, employee impressive role model to "authoritative- simulation, the man playing the role of the supervisor will engage the workers, blunders, style" supervisors on how to listen to supervisor fired the man acting as the using power in a positive way. employee - just because the employee tried to tell his side of the story. The task was for the new foreign-born Supervisors can be redirected to manufacturing subordinates. If the plant manager can . supervisors can do it withoutlosing interacting with employees and being best internalize helpful. Modeling the authority figure the lesson that face, surely they can, roo. Latinos, the fastest growing supervisors to learn that employee .as teacher or father naturally will the primary explanations involve taking employees into account. function of will reach about 35 percent of the work are not impertinent back talk. but rather the royal road ro And incorporating the concept of problem analysis. It turned out that "personalisrno" - strong, charismatic native tendencies are hard to overcome, personal relations - and new behaviors require practice. fine opportunity 3. Planning and collaboration. Training for all supervisors, regardless 14 Industrial Management will present a for positive employee segment of the American population, discipline is force correction, not punishment; bY2020. In some geographic areas, Hispanic work forces will be as much as 75 percent. Manufacturers with effectively trained bilingual motivation. Experience in Mexico has supervisors taught that Latin-style motivation of the competition .•:. surely will be ahead Manufacturers with heavy Hispanic plant populations who want additional information on ways to improve employee productivity and supervisory performance in their diverse workforces should contact the author, Mariah E. deForest, Senior Vice President, Imberman and DeForest, Inc., at [email protected], or PH: 847/733-0071 for the following additional articles and reports: "Ending The Era of Employee Entitlement," Foundry Management and Technology, March, 2010. "How To Save Cash by Improving Productivity," Distribution and Fabrication, September, 2009. Plastics "Is Inertia Hurting Your Company?" Wire Forming Technology, Summer, 2009. "Learning From Obama's Victory," Food Processing Magazine, December, 2008. "Carrots and Sticks Aren't Good Enough" Tube and Pipe Journal, March, 2008. "Work Harder ... Work Smarter ... to Motivate Your Workers," Foundry Management and Technology, November. 2007. "Casting Profitability - Realities Industry Link, October. 2006. Vs. Rhetoric," Die Casting "Planting The Seed to Grow Your Bottom Line," Agricultural Equipment Manufacturer, Fall, 2006. "Better Communications Mean Industry Link," April, 2005. Better Profits," Die Casting "Managing The Hispanic Die Caster," Die Casting Industry Link, October., 2004. "Better Management = Better Bottom Technology, Fall, 2005. "Training Latino December 2004. Supervisors," Die Line," Casting Wire Forming Industry Link, "Spanish Speaking Employees In American Industry," Business Horizons, Indiana University School of Business, January, 2004.
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