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Multicultural impact on your Quality and Safety management

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ISO9001 NCR Risk
Multicultural quality

­­The world is getting smaller, which means a more diverse company culture and multicultural organisation with multiple languages. Lots of companies work with people from different countries. Whether it is a trucker, a specialist engineer, or a welder from around the world.

Demand and supply are filled from every corner of the globe. It is amazing we live in a world where this is possible, but it introduces some challenges related to quality and safety management. When we want to keep this on the highest standard possible, we need to make sure that most of the critical information is well understood by everybody. Making all the documents and ways of working understandable for everybody and in every language isn’t always easy. Mistakes in aligning the cultural differences goes way back. However, with a more globalized economy, not just the big enterprises need to mitigate them.

Language Differences

With all those different kinds of people, there are language differences. People might speak English but they could be having difficulties really understanding it. When English isn’t your native language it can be hard really expressing yourself in it. In such a case, make sure all the important instructions are available in the employee’s native language. The risk of mistakes caused by employees not understanding what to do is just too high. Translating the different information and checklists can be hard—especially when you want to keep analyzing all the information regardless of the language. However, not providing the information in the native language introduces risks which are simply unacceptable.

A common solution for a lot of companies is to have a team leader who speaks English and communicates with the team. This works fine, but it also introduces communication problems. Having the important work instructions, safety guides, and procedures in the native language of the employees is the best way forward. This way you give them the option to really understand how to operate in the best possible way.

Managing all the documents in different languages requires a proper document management solution otherwise you will go crazy. However, when you have a significant number of employees with different native languages it is important to do this.

Cultural Differences

Apart from the language differences there are also quite some cultural differences when you work with people from different countries. They have been trained in a different way from a very young age and are used to doing things a certain way. This might not always align with the way the company does these things.

These cultural differences are something that needs to be taking care of the moment the new employee steps into the company. Make sure the person is trained on how the company handles certain things and colleagues should behave. A great example is the handling of NCRs. In some countries this isn’t really accepted because making mistakes is penalized. While maybe in your company you want more NCRs be filed because it helps you to improve the company. When you hire someone from a culture where this isn’t very straightforward, you need to train this new employee on that mindset.

Conclusion

Yes, having multiple cultures in your company introduces additional work and costs but being aware of the risks of not dealing with it is simply too high. Therefore it is essential that crucial information is available in the native language of the employee.

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