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Running Head: (Re)Building a Global Team: Tariq Khan at Tek 1

(Re)Building a Global Team: Tariq Khan at Tek

by

Priscilla Gumbs

for

CMN 6080 – Intercultural Communication

Northeastern University

Instructor Sabine Amend

20 May 2017
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Tek offered Tariq Khan a high position as a global sales and marketing team manager.

The organization is diverse, the team has 68 members who are from 27 distinct countries and

speak 18 different languages. Both poor recent performance and employee dissatisfaction have

been noticed. The team is seen as “out of control” by the departing manager (Ali Amlak). Tariq

Khan decided to accept the position and believes he would be able to propose changes to correct

the problems at Tek. Khan is facing a huge dilemma and has to figure out how to put the

company back on its feet.

The purpose of the paper is to identify key issues at Tek and propose ways for the team to

resolve the problems. In order for us to be effective communicators and have an effective team,

it is crucial to be aware of and understand who we are and also understand the people we work

with.

The three main problems in this case are: insufficient cultural awareness which was

caused by ethnocentrism, stereotyping, and a strong power distance dimension, poor

communication in the team and low level of team effectiveness. The managers at Tek have poor

self-awareness and culture awareness; unskillful and abrasive message delivery lead to

distrustful interpersonal relationships and restricted information, it also resulted in creating a

defective communication flow. The loosely organized team relationship and poor leadership

behavior caused inefficiency and unclear direction for the team. The other problems that are

identified in this case are the multiple differences in languages, geographic, cultural and

temporal.

After evaluating the alternatives, there are five recommendations. First, the employees at

Tek who have insensitivity issues will join a sensitivity training program, and get counseling

from intercultural counselors on a weekly basis to identify and comprehend the problems and
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improve their abilities in understanding the diverse workforce. On a bi-weekly basis, the

company will also provide cultural activities in order for the employees to learn about the

cultures of their team members. Second, the employees will be required to use English in the

workplace, which will assist in establishing norms and codes of communication. And third, the

managers should implement empowerment and motivation behaviors such as coaching,

monitoring and providing feedback to their team members, as well as providing rewards and

positive feedback to motivate employees. The manager shall also emphasize the common goals

and update the online newsletter to assist in increasing transparency within the organization.

Although these recommendations are brought forward, there are still some limitation for

this case. To begin with, it is very difficult to measure the effects for these activities. The other,

the weight factor as well as the data in the six dimensions in alternative analysis are very

subjective, which are based on past experience and lastly, only three obvious issues are pointed

out, in fact, there are other issues can also cause poor performance for the team.

According to Pronin, E. (2008), self-awareness is one of the major pillars that helps to assure an

effective management. In the (Re)Building a Global Team: Tariq Khan at Tek, both the new

manager (Khan) and the previous manager each have a blind area about themselves. Khan is not

confident in his abilities to accept the position, but his friend feels confident in his skills and

experience in intercultural team management. The previous manager, reminded Khan of the

difficulties in this position, but is not aware of the problems in his own management skills, but

are identified by the members of his team. Khan has already been a conscious manager as he

developed human and conceptual skills as well as sensing cognitive style to assist his employees

in identifying their problems. Khan should dig deeper in his own characteristics and abilities and

avoid making the same mistakes as the previous manager.


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In order to be an effective manager in a global organization and have an effective team, synergy

needs to be developed, so that each team can complement the other team members in order to

reach their shared goal, which requires intercultural team members to learn each other’s culture

and respect one another.

However, Lars one of the managers, showed his insensitivity toward others cultural

practices with his preconceived ideas. “He mocked local practices publicly while on business

travel” (Neeley (2015), p. 7). The lack of cultural awareness also exists in some of the team

members, which prevents them from being able to work together to tackle the current crisis the

company faces.

The obvious problems that exist in the team is communication. The employees

communicate as they please, which is often in an abrasive, insensitive and unproductive manner

which can be considered as an unskillful communication.

The language barrier is one of the main factors in this case because it created a division

of groups by languages. International employees often have competence in the company’s

lingua franca but also lack skills in the local language while some ‘local’ employees lack

competence in the corporate language (English). This can lead to the sociolinguistic exclusion of

either group (Lonsmann, 2014).

During the meeting in Dubai, Khan noticed that the shyer members of the team were

legitimately concerned regarding their more English fluent team members (Neeley (2015) p. 3).

Without having a common language, people are inclined to distort messages they receive from

others and because of this, the less fluent speakers will be hesitate in raising their questions and

concerns. This could be because they are “simply disguising their weaker skills by questioning
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the usefulness of speakers they did not understand” (Neeley (2015) p. 3) which can lead to

distant and uncaring interpersonal relationships.

According to Calopio & Andrewartha (2011), p. 251, “disowned communication is

attributed to an unknown person or group or to some external source. The communicator will

avoid taking responsibility for the message and therefore avoid investing in the interaction. This

conveys the message that the communicator is aloof or uncaring about the receiver, or does not

have enough in the ideas expressed to take responsibility for them. This results that the listener

is never sure whose point the message represents and is apt in misinterpreting the message.

While a disowned communicator avoids taking responsibility for the message, a person-

oriented communicator focuses on the characteristics of the individual and not the event and

communicates the person is inadequate. When Khan tried to dig into the internal factors for the

group’s poor performance, the senior leadership team could not come to an agreement on the

root cause of their problems, and they seemed to prefer debating with one another rather than

getting together to find and resolve their problems.

Team leadership is very important in order to achieve team performance outcomes such

as effectiveness, team productivity and team learning. Team leaders need to be able to direct and

facilitate team performance and it is important for a team to be know who is on the team and

who is in charge of the team. However, this is not the case at Tek. Tek has a diverse 68-person

team whose members come from 27 countries which makes it harder for the team to know each

other. According to Ramazan, one of the senior executives, he said that “they do not really know

what each country/region is capable of (Neeley (2015) (p 7).” This can lead to the problem of

inaccurately setting goals.


Running Head: CASE STUDY ANALYSIS 6

A leader’s roles and behaviors have a very strong connection in regards to the outcome of

a team’s performance. Unfortunately, Lars, one of the senior executive, does not provide a good

example on being culturally insensitive. For example, during business trips, Lars would

“sometimes mock local practices publicly” and “deride colleagues poor English skills” (p. 7).

By Lars showing insensitivity to the other people on the team, it creates dysfunction from highest

level of the organization.

The difference between high and low performing teams is that high performing teams

seem to generate their own energy and elevates everyone on the team to their full potential.

Despite achieving more, working on these teams seems less taxing, the workday seems shorter

and less frustrating. On the flip side of high performance teams, are low performing teams

which as in the case at Tek are teams that are plagued by dysfunction and produce more

frustration than progress. The senior executives, Sunil, Lars and Ramazan, failed to understand

their teams and elevate them to realize their full potential. They also fail to understand why the

group was failing. They are also always debating instead of coming up with solutions and they

do not agree on what their focus should be as a leadership team.

The senior executives at Tek need to provide their team direction. They need to clearly

know what their expectations are and have the same agenda within the team. The Tek

executives’ responsibility is to clarify the guidelines, boundaries and expectations to the team

members so that they will understand what is required from them. Yet, at Tek, unfortunately

there is no clear directions within the team members which lead to a problem such as no

ownership of targets or failures.


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Additionally, in order to have an effective team it requires to be able to share information

openly, honestly and clearly in order to assist team members to become aware of what is going

on inside the team. However, this is not seen at Tek. According to the Lebanese Customer

service associate, Farah, she did not know the group was doing poorly since “targets information

come up for them only a few times a year” (Neely (2015) p. 7).

In order for a team to have a good performance outcome, there must be good

coordination. Unfortunately, the employees at Tek do not have coordination which lead them to

not achieving their targets and meeting their goals. Having problems with coordination and

motivation in a team can lead the team to underperform. It also leads to a decline in group

morale and employee satisfaction which can be seen at Tek.

The company will need to find strategies which will help them to learn more about

themselves and help them to understand their cultural differences. In order for them to do so,

they will need to consider providing some sensitivity training programs which will help them to

be more sensitive towards their co-workers’ cultural practices and believes. Lars is the one that

Khan needs to be more concerned about. By counseling him on his cultural insensitivity, he will

be able to perceive and understand how bad his attitudes affect others with his comments and

how they can change the workplace into a toxic one.

On a weekly basis, every employee who is concerned with insensitivity issues can talk

privately with an intercultural counselor hired by the company. The counselors will be able to

help them recognize what is wrong by providing them cases and asking them how they usually

deal and react with specific situations regarding the culture of the country they are living in.
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They will be able to recognize what is right or wrong because what may be acceptable in one

culture may not be in another.

By providing these sessions during a 6-month time period, they should be able to see how

they are improving and will be able to apply those strategies in responding to the cultural

differences and work in a more harmonious workplace.

In addition, these cultural differences issues can be solved in another way. The company

can provide cultural activities so that every employee can learn about the different cultures that

are inside the company. They can set aside a day every two weeks which will be the cultural

day. This cultural day will have a quiz of 10 minutes about one different country that is

represented within the company.

The Tek team consists of 68 members from 27 countries and speak 18 different

languages. In order to make segregated language groups communicate more effectively with one

another, it will be required that English be used as the official language in the workplace.

Employees whose fluency level is also a barrier in delivering their messages clearly will be

required to have periodic training and testing in their English levels to motivate them to learn and

use English. It is recommended that Khan can encourage active listening as well as good

language skills for the team. People who use English as their native language will be required to

clearly and slowly in front of their colleagues from other countries, use more words of praise and

personal feelings to help eliminate misunderstanding.

Relationships between workers is very important in the perceptions of providing

meaningful work. Empowerment and motivation behaviors are important to be used

continuously especially by the senior executives and manager at Tek. Empowerment behaviors
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such as coaching, monitoring, mentoring and providing feedback to the team members will help

provide effective team process and team performance outcomes. Implementing motivation

behaviors such as providing fair compensation as well as giving recognition of performance will

show that the team members’ work is being valued.

It is also recommended that Tek senior executives and manager clarify the goals, rules

and expectations of its team members. The will need to focus on a common work discipline in

order to achieve their goals. By doing this, it will help the team to have a sense of security and

direction. Also, it is important to provide the latest news, target and achievements in order to

increase transparency within the organization. It is recommended that Tek create an online

company newsletter which will be provided by the management every Friday so that all of the

teams from the various departments become aware of what is happening within the company.

The online newsletter will provide current news that contains the departments targets, goals and

achievements. By Tek creating an online newsletter this will help employees stay on track and

to provide transparency information at Tek.

The recommendations that are provided above provide several advantages for the team,

they are feasible and easy to ask all of the employees to participate in the activities, they can also

be continuously executed have a long-term influence.


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Certification Statement

I, Priscilla Gumbs, certify that I have composed this writing from my own thoughts. All

materials used to assist in this document have been properly referenced. I understand the penalty

of copying work and confirm that this writing has not been plagiarized.
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References

Lønsmann, D. (2014). Linguistic diversity in the international workplace: Language ideologies

and processes of exclusion. Multilingua, 33(1/2), 89-116.

Neeley, Tsedal. (Re)Building a Global Team: Tariq Khan at Tek. Harvard Business School Case

414-059, December 2013. (Revised December 2015)

Pronin, E. (2008). How We See Ourselves and How We See Others. Science, 320(5880), 1177-

1180. doi:10.1126/science.1154199