Building Multicultural Teams

Pullman Tokyo Tamachi General Manager Darren Morrish says a diverse workforce is key to a business’ survival.

Darren Morrish Headshot

Darren Morrish

Having a multicultural team allows us to see things from different perspectives with cultural awareness, which is especially important as we deal with the speed and complexity of change in today’s world and the ever-increasing demands or requirements of business and leisure travellers.

People generally travel to other countries to experience the culture, the food, the shopping, and, of course, the difference of these destinations. Having a team of people who also are from different backgrounds brings understanding, compassion, and interest in others, which is what hospitality is all about.

Despite our world being in one of its most tumultuous times, the hospitality industry continues to expand year on year. It is amazing how quickly the nationalities of travellers are changing — and this is where multicultural teams can really flourish.

When it comes to building a diverse and respectful workplace, I am a firm believer in hiring people based on their character, then training them for the requirements of the job. Other key attributes, I believe, are a genuine interest in others and their experiences. Leading a diverse team is about constant and speedy change, refining, training — and returning to complete the circle, repeatedly. That’s what inclusion is all about.

People need to understand and accept that the world is growing smaller and smaller and more and more people are travelling and living abroad. For industries to grow and develop, multicultural workforces may be the only way to survive.

Acceptance of different cultures needs to start from the top. Often leaders or managers are not close enough to the action to really understand the issues that may be faced from all sides. This is where leaders need to be more engaged with their teams, remain neutral but focused on the desired outcome of the business, and celebrate successes.

Inclusive leadership is something that we need to continually monitor and assess. The hospitality and events industries can be extremely stressful, with high and low demand periods, and your management style often needs to adjust accordingly. As much as possible, I try to engage everyone in conversations about why we are in the industry and how we can exceed our guests’ expectations.

As an Australian working and living in Japan, I can often share my own personal experiences on how to navigate cultural differences. There will always be times where there are different opinions. I always highlight to others that many of us are guests in someone else’s country and we must respect this while respecting the views of others as well.

An Australian national, Darren Morrish is area general manager–East Japan for AccorHotels and general manager of AccorHotels’ Pullman Tokyo Tamachi. This article was compiled by staff at Untangled, a Singapore-based content, marketing, and business strategy consultancy.

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