I have just read a really inspirational book – Beyond Words: A Radically Simple Solution to Unite Communities, Strengthen Businesses and Connect Cultures Through Language by James B. Archer Jr.
It made me think of the reason why, in spite of Apartheid, I grew up believing in the goodness of all people. I grew up playing with children who were different than me, learned their language, sang their songs and ate their food. We were just children playing. There were no barriers of culture and race, just children. We were from Italian, Zulu, Sotho, English and Afrikaans homes, but we played together even when we didn’t always understand everything that was said. We laughed, were helped to understand by our friends and we carried on playing.
Archer has created a program called ShareLingo, which is a remarkably simple way of learning a language – by sitting with someone who wants to learn your language while you want to learn theirs. It is a model of cooperative adult learning that goes far beyond language proficiency. It builds community.
I immediately see the application for employee retention, especially with a diverse workforce and cross-cultural teams.
Cross-functional and cross-cultural teams have struggled historically. Why? Mostly because members from different backgrounds often believe that they know best and others are somehow inferior. This may be because of their judgment that accounting skills, technological know-how or HR insights are superior skills. It may stem from the fact that they come from a different culture.
Building a team with members from diverse backgrounds can waste valuable time if members are trying to stake their claim rather than learning about each other first. Dysfunctional teams lead to dissatisfied workers. When the condition persists, workers leave in order to find a “better fit.”
Applying the ShareLingo principle, all that teams need to do first is to sit with one other member to learn their business “language” while teaching this “language” to their partner. If every team-building endeavor started there, real teamwork would emerge quicker and results would be delivered efficiently and sooner, contributing to a stable workforce.
Email me to start a conversation about your workforce communication and stability.