How to Manage Latino Employees More Effectively

Just as we all learn in different ways, such as visually versus auditory, cultures experience and respond to management styles in different ways as well. What motivates a person from one culture may discourage someone from another culture.

This article focuses on the most effective (and ineffective) ways for managers to interact with their Latino employees. Foreign-born Latino employees are typically not accustomed to the ways in which U.S. managers communicate and, on the flip-side, U.S. managers often are not familiar with the nuances of managing an ethnically diverse workforce. Managers can create a more inclusive, productive, and satisfying workplace by understanding common Latino cultural traits. It's important to note, of course, that we're speaking in accepted generalities and that individuals behave differently within cultures.

Family plays a very important role in the Latino culture, so showing Latino employees they care not just for them but for their families goes a long way to establishing a strong and trusting relationship. Respect is also a crucial part of Latino culture, especially for elders, women, and people in leadership positions. It is common in Latino culture to expect those in authority to be the decision-makers and to follow their lead without much hesitation. Whereas it is common for employees in the Anglo-American workplace culture to express their opinions in large group settings without emotion, Latinos tend to use a more indirect approach, preferring a one-on-one interaction. In fact, Latinos tend to be particularly offended by perceived disrespect, which will naturally affect performance and morale.

The degree of intimacy in the workplace tends to be more important in the Latino culture as well. Latino employees innately want to establish a personal connection, which extends to management and coworkers. They want to get to know people on a personal level rather than just a professional level that only focuses on the job. They are also interested in the life others have after work, believing that knowing the complete person creates a bond and camaraderie.

Managers should also realize that personal contact is important for Latino employees. Unlike the often cold mannerisms of the Anglo-American workplace culture, Latinos find physical contact with others very normal (and necessary). Handshakes, pats on the back, hugs, and kisses on the cheek are all a part of common daily interaction.

To sum up, creating an optimal work environment for Latino employees includes understanding that Latinos are:
• Used to interacting with others with more of a human touch-both inside and outside the workplace
• Interested in more than just the personality of their managers and coworkers at work
• Expecting leaders to lead through vision and inspiration rather than fear and intimidation
• Most receptive to a management approach that shows their families are cared for as well as themselves, and also appreciate time-off for important Latino holidays

Managing an ethnically diverse workforce can be a challenge for any employer. The most important thing to keep in mind is that different cultures respond to different management styles. Recognizing the traits of different cultures will not only create a happier and more retainable workforce. It will also improve productivity, performance, and profitability, which are goals of any organization.

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