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Spain is as diverse as any other country, especially for non-natives. However, several principles of human resources still apply to companies based in Spain where employees are most likely Spanish. These general principles along with specific ones can help improve job satisfaction, improve motivation, and increase performance in all departments.
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First, it should be understood how diversity should be put to an advantage. Differences among employees are nothing new to international businesses. Thus, the differences should be identified and all efforts should be put in understanding them and putting them in their proper perspectives. For instance, adjusting in the time differences in the work schedules of workers in Spain should be made. The first consideration is that superiors should understand the culture of siesta. Because workers used in this culture may find it difficult to go back to work with the same level of energy that they have in the morning, managers should promote activities that will perk them up when they go back to work in the afternoon after the siesta break.
Siesta is not the only cultural difference that Spain has over the United States and other countries. The Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions (Hofstede, 2003) indicate some job-related factors that make Spanish workplaces different from those in the United States. First, the power distance index in Spain is greater than in the United States. This shows that hierarchy is important for Spanish workers. Thus, line of functions if there are any should be closely observed. Superiority should be well respected and job descriptions should be followed. Giving regard to hierarchy is important for the Spanish so non-natives should be sensitive about it to avoid offending them.
Americans are more liberal than the Spanish. This is evident in the high margin that it maintains over Spain in terms of individualism. Thus, American workers can be used to speaking out and speaking up, while the Spanish can keep restraint and avoid deviance. This can pose a problem for Americans new to Spain especially in the workplaces where team work is essential. (Hofstede, 2003)
In view of this, Americans should not take it negatively if they find it hard for their Spanish workers to contribute actively at work. While Spanish workers can also exercise initiative, it is not a general practice for them to precede the initiative of their superiors because, as mentioned above, they highly regard hierarchy and power distance. Americans, thus, should mean well by being more encouraging to their Spanish workers and giving constructive criticism to their initiatives. It should also be noted well that the lack of individualism can make the Spanish sensitive with outright negative criticism. Unlike in the United States, Spanish workers may not take criticism told straight up easily. Americans in Spain should know this so that they may avoid this which can greatly affect the work performance of their workers.
Where history was discriminative and regarded women as second-class citizens everywhere once, Hofstede (2003) claims that masculinity is greater in the United States than in Spain. This may induce the fact that American workplaces can be more male-dominated than Spanish workplaces. However, it should not be concluded that American workplaces are more discriminative. In fact, American firms are drastically enforcing measures to avoid all forms of discrimination including against women.
In view of an American in a Spanish workplace, however, care should be taken that discrimination against women that may be normal in a United States setting is avoided. In fact, discrimination of any form should be eliminated at any angle. It should be noted that diversity does not make a specific culture more superior than others. This will foster good relations among employees and employers however diverse the setting may be.
Americans are individualistic, and so it follows that they can be adventurous as well. Hofstede (2003) showed that the Spanish avoid uncertainties and can play things safely more than their American counterparts. This is essential especially for stakeholders and high-ranks. Knowing that the Spanish can be less adventurous, they should make sure that every step they take in the business that they are handling are carefully studied and backed up with relevant and updated data. This lessens the risks in their decisions which may repel Spanish partners and officers from supporting their proposals. If they show that every single detail of the proposal has been studied, they are more likely to endorse the proposal and enforce it. As with workers, managers should show workers how a decision has been made, and how it can affect the workers and the company both positively and negatively. Laying the cards straight will enable the workers to get a view of the situation and clarify doubts and questions that they may have early on. As risk-taking behavior is evidently essential for businesses to maintain their competitive edge, Americans should be sensitive about the play-safe behavior of the Spanish and should work around it.
The more one adheres to the culture of one country, the easier it is for him to blend in. Reading about the country and its people as well as seeking guidance from a native can very well improve ones staying power in a Spain-based company. Avoiding saying words that one does not understand is one key. The Spanish uses a language that is totally different from that of Americans, and so it should be understood that using the language should be taken with care. This will dispel slip-of-the-tongues and mispronunciations which can be funny and worse offensive to native speakers of the language.
Dressing is another consideration. While corporate dressing is a universal language, it can still be highly variable in consideration of the climate changes in the country and the comfort of the people there. Thus, while one is get used to specific clothing items in his centrally air-conditioned office, if it does not fit well in the workplace in Spain (even if it is equally air-conditioned and the position and company is the same), deviant clothes should go and replaced with ones which will allow one to blend in.
Diversity is a challenge that multinational companies face every single day. Yet, this should not stifle companies from prospering. Again, fostering these differences for the advantage of the company is the key to creating a homogenous group of workers who can co-exist despite major incompatibilities. In the end, it will appear true that managing diversity in the workplace is the only way that companies can penetrate the global business scene.
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