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|El Lechero Elements - Immigration|
|Written by Gonzalo Fernandez|
|Thursday, 10 February 2011 11:21|
Managing, implementing and controlling resources to achieve corporate objectives are undoubtedly major responsibilities managers face.
Definitely, human labor is very important, but at the same time very complex.
For this reason, knowing the employees better is crucial.
Especially now, considering that the Hispanic labor force has increased dramatically in the cattle and dairy industries in the U.S. during the last few decades.
The vital issue is: How can managers, who usually are American, know their employees as well as they should if the employees belong to another culture?
Being unaware of the differences between cultures causes many mistakes. Obviously, managers cannot escape all of them. The most common mistakes are:
• Unsuitable expectations, or expecting that the job will be done in “the American style” without a precise explanation
• Assuming what we say is completely understood
• Interpreting non-verbal communication in a wrong way; for instance, presuming that the Hispanic employees understand our commands because they nod their heads
• Supposing that the foreign culture and the American culture have similar customs and values. A good example of this is punctuality. While Americans have a high respect for punctuality because “time is money,” Hispanics do not.
Understanding the adaptation process is essential to understanding our Hispanic employees. Each person is different, but there are different general levels of adaptation, including:
• Isolated: This group consists of immigrants that have minimal contact with or interest in mainstream U.S. culture.
• Acculturated: This category includes immigrants that have a real and significant desire to learn about U.S. culture, but still keep their own customs at home.
• Assimilated: This group includes immigrants that wish to live in an American style. They truly enjoy American customs, language and food. Hispanics that marry Americans can usually be found in this group; inside their families, American culture becomes “the official culture.”
If managers can recognize these levels, they will manage their Hispanic workers much better. For example, managers should recognize which ones are more interested in learning the language, traditions and customs, and train and promote them.
The Hispanic population has its own value scale. First, non-verbal communication is important. Proper voice tone, body language and facial expressions are needed for effective communication with Hispanic workers.
Instructions are more understandable for Hispanic employees if they are given with the proper non-verbal communication.
Second, family and friendship are essential for Hispanics, more essential than salary or hierarchy. In fact, giving their families a better quality of life is the main motivation for immigrants who come to the U.S.
Millions of dollars are sent back home by immigrants. Hispanic workers prefer to work in groups and consult among each other because friendship is valued.
Also, Hispanic employees like bringing their friends to the company and being responsible for them in front of the employer. Godparents are an important relationship among Hispanics.
When Hispanics desire to include a friend in the family, they name him or her as godparent of their child. Each decision that the manager makes to support workers’ families or friends will be rewarded by those employees with loyalty.
Third, competency is appraised differently by Hispanic immigrants than by Americans. While Americans enjoy showing that they are the best, Hispanics prefer to live together; in fact, they avoid competition.
For this reason, managers should encourage teamwork. Definitely, managers ought to recognize cultural differences in order to get more effective communication, compromise and performance from a Hispanic labor force.
Surely, improving understanding about Hispanic culture will bring more productivity to the business, and it also will improve your abilities as a manager. EL
by Gonzalo Fernandez, DVM