Background of the Study
Performance management is one of the concepts which are rapidly gaining popularity in modern organizations. According to Kirkman and Harris (2017), in the current competitive business environment, firms are doing everything within their capacity to achieve competitive edge over their rivals. One of the best ways of registering improved performance is to ensure that the output of an individual employee is improved.
Having a performance management system that focuses on individual employee and their capacity to deliver value to their organization is critical. The concept of performance management has become relevant both in profit-making and non-profit making organizations. Government institutions such as schools, the justice system, the health sector, and public works among others play a critical role in the society.
Employees working in these institutions have critical responsibilities of serving members of the public. In the past, there was a serious problem where government employees would deliberately underperform knowing that there will be no serious repercussions (Wang & Rafiq 2014). However, that is changing as accountability and integrity become major concerns in these institutions. For every assignment that one is given, there is always the desire to ensure that it is completed within the right time and in the right manner. The approach has changed from looking at the general performance of an entire department to specific individuals.
When a firm has a team of employees from varying socio-cultural background, the issue of performance management may become a major concern. Kirkman and Harris (2017) note that technology has reduced the world into a global village. It is now possible for a school in Saudi Arabia to employ teachers from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world. When having a multicultural team of employees, one must understand that their values, attitude towards some things, and social beliefs vary. Work ethics of people from various parts of the world also vary significantly.
It means that when planning to introduce a new performance management system in such a highly diversified environment, the first step would be to ensure that there is a shared view of what the optimal performance should be for all the employees depending on their respective departments (Wróblewski 2017). Despite their cultural diversity, they should have a shared goal of what should be achieved within a specified period. It may also be necessary to ensure that they understand how to work as a unit to realize organizational objectives. Such an organization needs to start by addressing the possible boundaries that may be created by the cultural difference (Saunders & Lewis 2017).
In this paper, the focus is to determine the response from a multicultural team to a new performance management system. Having a diversified workplace environment may be a challenge to the management. When it comes to introducing a new system that is meant to assess the performance of the employees, it may be problematic, especially if the team feels that they are being subjected to undue pressure.
Getting a response from such a team makes it possible to understand their primary concerns and how it can be addressed effectively by the relevant authorities (Salas, Rico & Passmore 2017). Sometimes their fears are often based on false information that creates wrong perceptions on what they need to achieve. When such misconceptions are addressed, it would be easy to steer the multicultural team to greater performance using the new performance management system. The paper will provide recommendations on how managers in the current competitive business environment can deal with new performance management system in a multicultural organization.
Justification of the Study
Diversity is one of the concerns that firms have to deal with in the current business environment. In Saudi Arabia, companies are forced to employ workers from different backgrounds. When host country nationals find themselves in the same workplace with third country nationals, it is normal to find cases of culture clash. The religious beliefs and social practices of one group may significantly differ from that of the other.
The work ethics that people embrace is largely defined by these socio-cultural forces (Mor-Barak 2014). It is also a fact that people tend to view performance excellence at work based on their background. It all depends on what one grew up believing to be excellence and how it should be realized. Some people believe in spending a lot of time at work to improve their individual performance and that of their organization. Others believe in creativity and innovativeness as ways of achieving the desired performance.
According to Kirkman and Harris (2017), cultural diversity also affects the management approaches that a firm embraces. Many people from Western Europe and North America believe in the open-door policy where employees have the right and opportunity to air their views freely and even engage the top managers when it is necessary. On the other hand, most people from Far East believe in strict leadership where the instruction from the top managers must be followed without fail.
When individuals with such varying perception towards leadership are brought together in a given organization, it becomes necessary to harmonize their views based on what the local forces. The problem arises when it becomes challenging to manage such diversity in an organizational setting. Issues such as cultural intolerance can easily degenerate into serious problems within a firm.
Investigating the response from a multicultural team to a new performance management system will be important to local managers in such diversified organizations. As these firms continue to hire foreigners to work alongside host country nationals, they need to know how and when to introduce new systems (Yates, Lee & Wanna 2015). Change is inevitable and the most important thing is to know when and how to introduce it in a way that will elicit possible rejection.
The outcome of this paper will help to identify some of the challenges that firms face when introducing change. Given that the study targets multicultural organization, it is possible to identify main issues which cause fear towards change among these employees. In most cases the fear of the unknown may make people to develop a negative attitude towards a new performance management system even before understanding what it seeks to achieve (Colombo 2014). The paper will help managers to understand how they can deal with such problems effectively and in a timely manner whenever it is necessary to introduce change. It will help to minimize possible resistance that employees may have by providing systematic steps that should be taken to achieve desired goals.
Aim and Objectives of the Study
It is important to define the aim of a research to help define what needs to be achieved through the study (Bryman & Bell 2015). The aim of this paper is to determine the response from a multinational team to a new performance management system. The investigation focuses on factors that define the perception of such a team towards performance management system, challenges that may be faced when introducing such new systems, and the manner in which a new performance management system should be introduced in a diversified organization. The following are the specific objectives that should be realized through the study.
- To determine factors which define the perception of workers towards a new performance management system;
- To identify challenges which exist when introducing a new system in a diversified workplace environment;
- To understand specific fears that multiracial team of employees may have whenever it is necessary to introduce a new system;
- To determine how the management unit can introduce a new performance management system without facing a significant resistance from employees.
The study will rely on both primary and secondary data sources to achieve the aim and objectives set above. Kirkman and Harris (2017) explain that it is necessary to develop research questions to help in the process of collecting data. The questions should reflect the objectives of the study. They help in determining the specific information that should be gathered from the field to meet the requirements of the paper. The following are the specific questions that helped in guiding the process of data collection:
- What are the challenges which exist when introducing a new system in a diversified workplace environment?
- What are the factors which define the perception of workers towards a new performance management system?
- What are the specific reasons that often make employees to resist change in an organization?
- How can the management unit introduce a new performance management system without facing a significant resistance from employees?
Structure of the Paper
The report has five main chapters. The first chapter is the introduction. It provides a detailed background of the study and the rationale for conducting the research. It also identifies the aim of the study, research objectives, and questions that guided the process of collecting data. The second chapter is the literature review. It provides a detailed analysis of the information that other scholars have found out in this field.
Through the review, it was possible to identify the existing knowledge gaps that need to be addressed through this and other studies. The third chapter is the methodology section. It explains how data used in this study was collected from the participants, analyzed, and presented in a meaningful way. It also identifies major assumptions made when collecting the study, ethical considerations observed and practical constraints that the researcher had to deal with when conducting this study. The fourth chapter is a detailed analysis of the primary data collected from the participants.
The section presents the answers to the questions presented to the participants. The firth chapter provides the conclusion and recommendations based on the data collected both from primary and secondary sources. The implications of the study are also provided in this chapter. There is an abstract and a declaration before the first chapter.
Managing the performance of individual employees in a multicultural setting is critical in ensuring that the needed level of success is achieved within an organization. In this chapter, the researcher will review what other scholars have found out in this topic. According to Azanza, Moriano, and Molero (2013), when conducting research, it is prudent to avoid duplicating knowledge that is already available through the work of other scholars.
Instead, it is necessary to review what others have found out to identify and address the research gaps. A new report should increase knowledge in a given field by focusing on grey areas in a given topic. Performance management is a widely explored field of study as firms struggle to ensure that they improve their as a way of increasing their performance. The concept of diversity in the workplace is also becoming relevant because of the increasing movement of labor from one country to another. This chapter will look at the diversity in the workplace, ways of managing diversity, the concept of performance management system, and research gaps.
Understanding the Concept of Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity in the workplace has been defined by different scholars in different ways, but in a way that brings out a similar meaning. Baack, Harris, and Baack (2013) argue that a “diverse workplaces are composed of employees with varying characteristics including, but not limited to, religious and political beliefs, gender, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation and geographic location” (p. 78).
In many instances, when one talks about workplace diversity, the only issue that often arises prominently is race. However, this is just one aspect of the diversity, as seen in the definition above. Race is an important factor that the management of a given organization cannot ignore. Movement of labor from one country to another is one of the leading factors that lead to organization having a racially diversified workforce.
In the developed countries of the west, especially North America and Europe, the workplace is highly diversified because of constant immigration (Ballantyne & Packer 2013). Many people are moving from Africa and parts of Asia to these countries in search of better opportunities.
In the Middle East countries such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, people are attracted by a booming petroleum and real estate markets. The more a country continues to receive immigrants, the more companies are forced t embrace racial diversity (Bratton & Gold 2017). Companies that have succeeded in embracing racial diversity have proven to be more successful than those which avoid hiring foreigners.
Clinard (2015) explains that some of these foreigners are more learned and experienced than the locals. They come to the country because of the belief that they will get better payment. A study conducted by Campbell and Göritz (2014) shows that most of the foreigners in the Middle East tend to be more hardworking than majority of the locals. They can also accept relatively lower salaries than the locals. Hiring them may be one of the steps that a firm may need to take to ensure that its workforce is lean and very efficient.
Religious diversity is another major issue of concern that cannot be ignored when looking at diversity in the workplace. According to Chin and Trimble (2014), physical movement of people from one place to another makes it almost impossible to avoid religious diversity in an organization. A Muslim or a Christian who moves from one country to another primarily to look for better employment opportunities is less likely to change personal beliefs and practices.
It means that if a Muslim moves to London because of employment issues, he or she will retain the religious belief. In most of the cases, one’s religious beliefs may not have a significant impact on the performance at workplace (Bratton & Gold 2017). However, in some cases it may be necessary to understand how such beliefs may affect their routine in the workplace. For instance, Christians may prefer not to work on Sundays because it is their official day of worship, while for a Muslim, it is on Fridays. In some cases, it becomes an issue when the management is unable to define the official day when employees should not come to work because of the need to go to Church or Mosque.
Clark (2013) explains that in countries where the dominant population is Muslims, they give Islam a priority. On the other hand, when Christians form the dominant population, then chances are always high that Sundays are official days of worshipping. It may be necessary to find a way of delicately balancing between religion and the need to be at work in a way that helps in ensuring that workers remain motivated. Successful firms that have come to embrace religious diversity have developed unique ways of achieving that delicate balancing (Dawson & Andriopoulos 2014). They give employees opportunity to choose the day they feel they should attend to their religious duties.
Instead of looking at diversity as a challenge, it becomes a firm’s strength because every single day of the week, there will be employees at the firm able to attend to the needs of clients or members of the public. Such arrangements are critical in organizations whose services are needed throughout the week such as hospitals, government security agencies, and call centers of both public and private sector companies.
Political differences can be a major factor that defines diversity within an organization. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the leadership is in the context of absolute monarchy. Political participation is limited to the royal family. Citizens can petition the king directly if they feel that specific issues are not getting the right attention (Gooderham, Grøogaard & Nordhaug 2013). As such, cases of political debates where individuals take sides in line with their party’s beliefs do not exist.
However, the same is not true in most of the western democracies. In the United States, the country’s population is almost divided into two, the Democrats and the Republicans (O’Reilly, Caldwell, Chatman & Doerr 2014). During major political campaigns, the rivalry between members of the two parties can be heated up so much that it gets confrontational. Such cases were witnessed during the last general election.
Chin and Trimble (2014) explain that it is uncommon to find cases where political rivalry is reflected at work even during such emptive periods. Individual cases can be singled out where those in positions of authority abused their power because of the political differences with a junior employee (Bratton & Gold 2017). However, such cases are unique and measures are often taken to address them. It is understood that as an individual being, it is possible to take a political stand that differs from an opinion of another individual. The most important thing is for each employee to appreciate that these political differences are normal and should not bring any problems in the workplace.
Cases have been witnessed in the developing countries where people engaged in armed conflict because of political differences (Parhizgar 2013). If it is not properly managed within an organizational setting, it can easily degenerate into verbal or physical attacks among workers. It explains why many firms have come up with policies that limit employees from engaging in political discussions when at work.
Gender diversity should not be ignored in an organizational setting. In the past, the society did not consider it appropriate for girls to pursue careers in specific fields (Ozbilgin 2015). The problem was not unique to Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries. It was a universal problem witnessed in Europe, Africa, and the Americas continents. However, that is changing rapidly in the modern society.
Girls and women are currently offered the same opportunities at school and in the workplace respectively (Stahl, Tung, Kostova & Zellmer-Bruhn 2016). In Saudi Arabia, the society has come to accept the need to empower women as a way of promoting equality in the country. The government in Saudi Arabia recently abolished the law that prohibited women from driving. In most of the western countries, women are taking top leadership positions.
The United Kingdom and Germany, the two dominant economies in Europe, are led by women (Pantouvakis & Bouranta 2017). As the local and global society become more liberal, women are increasingly finding themselves in various positions within a workplace setting. Some of the top global companies such as the General Motors, IBM, PepsiCo, Oracle, PG & E Corp are some of the top companies headed by women. In a company that is diversified in terms of the gender of the workers, it is necessary to remain sensitive and respectful to everyone irrespective of their sex.
Ethnicity can be a serious problem if it is not properly managed in a given company. According to Chin and Trimble (2014), about 90% of people living in Saudi Arabia are Arabians. The other 10% are of varied ethnic groups from Africa, Far East, and Europe. People of the same race may be of different ethnic groups. Prejudice against ethnical differences should not be tolerated in an organization (Wang & Rafiq 2014). Just like racism, the problem of ethnicity can have devastating consequences on the ability of a company to achieve success.
When a given group of people believe that they are superior to the rest by virtue of their ethnic background, then it may not be easy for them to work harmoniously with the rest in a given firm. Instead of forming groups based on common organizational interests and departments where one belongs, employees will shift towards having groups on the basis of ethnic background (Guirdham & Guirdham 2017). In such settings, tension may remain high as people try to fight for their position within the organization. The focus shifts from trying to achieve the vision of the entity to trying to demonstrate which group occupies the dominant positions (Hanzlick 2015).
Diversity in the workplace can also be looked at from the perspective of education of the employees. Every organization desires to have highly educated workers who can think creatively when undertaking their duties at different departments (Hartmann & Vachon 2017). However, it is common to find cases where the level of education varies depending on one’s position within the firm and the department.
In an ideal situation, it would be expected that the least educated employees hold junior positions such as janitors, security officers, cooks, and such similar positions. On the other hand, the highly educated employees should hold top positions such as chief executive officers, chief operating officer, chief finance officer, and the marketing director. It is possible to find a worker with high levels of education holding a junior position because of different reasons. Similarly, an individual with a limited level of education may hold a senior position within a firm. What matters, as Chin and Trimble (2014) observe, is to respect everyone irrespective of the academic background or position within the firm. Everyone wants to be respected at all times.
Socioeconomic status is another factor that has been identified as an issue when it comes to diversity in the workplace. The position and salary that one earns within a given organization defines their socioeconomic status. Others benefit from the family wealth, giving them prestigious social status even if their current positions within a company do not guarantee them high salaries (Mor-Barak 2014).
The social status that a person enjoys should not be a major issue within an organization. According to Darvish and Nazari (2013), companies are keen on rewarding their top talents as a way of retaining them within the firm. An opportunity may not have arisen for them to ascend to top management positions, but their significance to the company in their current positions make them indispensable. As such, their salaries may be increased significantly to persuade them to stay. When that happens, it may be common to find such a talented worker earning a higher salary than the immediate superior. Top managers should be respected even if they do not earn as much as some of their subordinates. The social status should not be a basis upon which one looks down at colleagues in the workplace.
Sexual orientation remains a sensitive topic in the Middle East and most of the countries dominated by Muslims. In west Europe and North America, the society has come to appreciate that people can have varying sexual orientation (Pachankis, Hatzenbuehler, Rendina, Safren & Parsons 2015). Although in these countries many people resent gays, they have learnt to live with them without allowing such orientations to affect the relationship they have at work.
However, such practices are highly resented in many countries across Africa and Asia. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the law clearly prohibits sexual relationship between people of the same gender (Hays-Thomas 2017). When a person openly admits to being a gay, he or she will attract resentment from the majority of the colleagues because the practice is not only considered unnatural but also ungodly.
Clinard (2015) admits that it may take some time before the society in Middle East and North Africa can embrace diversity in terms of sexual orientation. Even in the United States where human rights lobbyists have been fighting for the rights of gays, the practice is yet to be fully accepted. After many years of pressure, the United States Armed Forces (the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guards) abolished the policy that excluded gays from being members of the service.
Instead of abolishing the law in its entirety, it came up with a concept of ‘Do not ask, Do not tell’ which means that no one would be asked about their sexual orientation when joining the service or in their entire lives in the service (Bolman & Deal 2017). It is an indication that the organization is forced to embrace the practice, but its top leadership responsible for making policies is still uncomfortable with the practice. Clark (2013) advises that where possible, one should avoid engaging colleagues on issues relating to sexual orientation because it is still universally controversial.
Benefits of Diversified Workforce
Having a highly diversified workplace is beneficial if all stakeholders can overcome the obvious differences. According to Marschan-Piekkari, Welch, and Welch (2014), racial diversity in a workplace is important, especially for companies seeking to expand their operations beyond the national borders. One of the ways of dealing with stiff market competition is to explore foreign markets. Going global is often a high-risk high-reward business strategy. If firm is successful in penetrating a foreign market, it expands its market share and significantly increases its revenue flow and profitability (Triana 2017).
On the other hand, if it fails to penetrate the new market, a significant amount of time and resources will be lost in the process. Moreover, the moral of the employees and other stakeholders will be affected by such failures. When a firm has employees who originated from the country of target, it is important to use them to understand forces in that market (Moran 2015). For instance, a Saudi company can use United Kingdom employees to understand what to expect in that country before making the decision to try the market.
One should expect that some of the products which are popular in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may not receive much attention in the United Kingdom. As such, the firm will need to modify its products to meet the local demand. The employee can also help the firm to understand other local forces such as impact of social, economic, and political environments on the firm.
Having a workplace where women work alongside men may be beneficial for the success of a firm. It is true that Islamic principles are strict and often limit physical contact between men and women (Heesen 2015). However, working in the same setting does not necessarily mean there will be a physical contact between employees. Clark (2013) argues that when women work alongside men, there is always the motivation to deliver better results. Men are motivated by the desire to avoid underperforming in the midst of male and female colleagues (Hong & Lee 2014). The positive drive to draw attention of the rest towards one’s performance is often reflected in improved performance.
Clinard (2015) warns that the positive synergy can only be generated when there is deep understanding and respect among the employees. Everyone should appreciate that gender differences do not make anyone special. Men may have greater physical strength than women, but that does not make any group superior to the other. When a firm is able to embrace gender diversity, it will be reflected in the actions that their employees take when handling customers. Cases where men molest or use derogatory words when handling clients of the opposite gender will be significantly reduced (Bolman & Deal 2017). This is so because these employees have learnt to respect their colleagues and doing so to customers become easy.
Challenges Associated With Managing Diversity in the Workplace
It is important to appreciate that there are numerous challenges associated with managing diversity in the workplace along the demographical factors identified above. One of the challenges is the problem of managing racism. According to Darvish and Nazari (2013), the international media has created a perception that racism is only a problem in the United States. However, that is not true. In fact, Clark (2013) argues that racism is worse in some countries such as China and Russia than it is in North America.
The recent influx of Syrian and Yemeni refugees in Germany has also demonstrated that racism is still a major problem in Europe. In the Middle East, Holbeche (2017) argues that Africans tend to be the victims of racism. In an organizational setting, addressing this problem may be a major challenge. In most of the cases, a societal problem is often reflected within an organization.
When there is a general perception that African immigrant workers are inferior to the locals in Saudi Arabia, changing this belief in a workplace environment may not be easy (James 2017). When a person belonging to a group considered inferior is promoted, they may not find it easy controlling a section of the employees. Insubordination becomes a major problem and that may affect the ability to implement critical organizational policies. As Holz (2016) observes, most of these immigrants are highly educated and have unique skills that some of the locals have. When they cannot be respected, it becomes almost impossible for them to perform optimally in their respective departments.
Managing Religious Diversity
Managing diversity along the religious line is one of the most challenging tasks that firms have to deal with on a regular basis. According to Darvish and Nazari (2013), religion remains one of the most emotive and divisive factors in the modern society. In Saudi Arabia, the dominant religion is Islam. However, there is a significant Christian minorities and a few Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists, majority of who are immigrants (Laroche & Yang 2014). Currently, there is a deeply rooted mistrust and suspicion between Muslims and Jews because of the constant wars in Gaza and West Bank.
According to Chin and Trimble (2014), many Muslims feel that Jews in Israel have been given a space by the international community to commit atrocities against the Palestinians. In a workplace environment where a Jew has to work with a Palestinian, it may not be easy to eliminate the suspicion and hatred. It is easy for both parties to accept that they may have little to do with the ongoing events in the two regions. However, that may not be enough to address the problem (Colombo 2014).
In Germany, immigrants from Syria and Yemen have been welcomed since the war in both countries broke out a few years ago. However, it is becoming evident that the society is intolerant towards Islam as a religion. Extremists are now attacking worshiping centers for Muslims. Muslim women find it difficult dressing in hijab because of the extremism that is growing in the country (Bolman & Deal 2017).
The problem is widespread even in organizations that hire immigrants. Many of them are barred from worshiping while they are within these firms (Bolman & Deal 2017). The top management unit may be willing to steer its employees away from such levels of extremism. However, going against what the society believes to be the right social course may be challenging. It may take some time before this problem can be addressed effectively.
Ethnicity and sexual orientation are also emotive in various parts of the world. According to Darvish and Nazari (2013), ethnicity is a major problem in most of the African countries. Although the problem often intensifies during major political campaigns such as general elections, many firms find it difficult fighting this vice. Clark (2013) explains that some organizations tend to favor people from one ethnic group at the expense of others. In such cases, tension may arise as one group may feel deliberately neglected. Sexual orientation on the other hand, is yet to become an acceptable practice in many countries. Other than the national laws that may prohibit or limit gay-related activities, the society may want to take instant actions against those who are believed to be gays.
In Saudi Arabia, such people are often stoned to death for engaging in ungodly acts. Even when the law may prohibit such mob actions, such individuals find it difficult blending with the rest of the workforce (Molinsky 2013). When their orientation is disclosed, their colleagues will start viewing them with suspicion and contempt. They end up finding it difficult to fit into the system. Some may opt to quit their jobs because of the hostile environment. Others who have to stick around may not perform optimally because of the harsh environment in which they work. Political beliefs, gender, socioeconomic background and issues related with geographical location can be addressed more easily than the above factors.
Managing a Multicultural Team
It is becoming increasingly impossible to avoid diversity in the workplace. According to Parhizgar (2013), modern organizations find themselves in positions where they have to deal with issues arising from multicultural workplace. As people continue to move from one part of the world to another, companies are finding it beneficial to have a cosmopolitan workplace environment. According to Wróblewski (2017), many companies in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia still find it challenging to manage negative aspects of cultural diversity. Cases where people are verbally attacked because they are considered outsiders are common even among the top companies.
The victims of such negative energy tend to be unhappy and less motivated. Their performance is significantly affected. On the other hand, the perpetrators of such attacks take a lot of time trying to identify mistakes on their targets so that they can find proper justification for their attacks. In the end, it is the firm that ends up losing because the focus of its employees has shifted from the shared vision to factors that make employees different. It is the responsibility of the top management unit to address such issues in an effective manner as a way of improving harmony within the firm and efficiency of the employees. The following are some of the steps that can be taken to deal with this problem.
Zero Tolerance Policy
One of the most important policies that should be embraced by the firm is zero tolerance on issues relating to racism, sexism, ethnicity, or any other behavior that is intolerant towards diversity in an organization. According to Triana (2017), statistics show that many women often suffer in silence when they are at their workplace. They fall victims to men who see themselves as predators and capable of manipulating women at will.
Attacks on female employees may take different forms. It may be in the form of verbal attacks where their colleagues use derogative or suggestive languages without considering its impact on the recipient. Sometimes it may be in the form of physical attack. Saunders and Lewis (2017) argue that the recent revelations about sexual molestation that women go through in Hollywood are a perfect demonstration of intolerance that people have towards diversity.
In Europe, intolerance towards cultural diversity is becoming increasingly evident, especially in Germany that has been receiving immigrants from volatile regions in the Middle East. According to Parhizgar (2013), the top management should be very clear when it comes to dealing with intolerance towards cultural diversity. If the top management feels that it cannot avoid attack and unnecessary criticism of people of a given culture, then the best thing would be to avoid hiring them. At least the firm will be passing a message to the public, including its customers, that it does not embrace cultural diversity. It will have a unified workforce. In the current competitive business environment, such a firm cannot survive in the market, which means that embracing diversity is no longer an option.
When the management realizes that it cannot avoid having employees of varying culture, the right thing to do is to develop and strictly implement the zero tolerance policy. Every member of the organization should be informed that the management strictly prohibits acts and practices that may be construed as a deliberate attack on colleagues because of their different culture, gender, race, religious practices, or any other demographical difference.
Whoever goes against such policies should know the kind of punishment that awaits him or her. The first report may be addressed through issuing a warning. After that, the perpetrator may be suspended from work without pay for a while. If a third legitimate report is brought in against the same individual, then he or she should be dismissed from the company. The policy should be implemented firmly but in a fair manner. It should not be used to punish a section of the workforce.
Other than creating and strictly implementing a policy that limits intolerance among workers, it is also necessary to take them through training. They should be sensitized about the relevance of having a multicultural team in a workplace. Parhizgar (2013) argues that we always have more in common than what divides us. Cultural differences may be deceiving and at times may create differences among workers.
However, human beings often share a common vision of success, having good health, living in a harmonious environment, and helping others who are in need. Such positive thoughts are shared irrespective of the race, religion, level of education, gender, or any other demographical classification. Muslims, Christians, and Jews share a lot. Their religious books show that there is only one Supreme God that should be worshiped. When sensitizing employees, it is necessary to enable them see the similarities. During such forums, it may be necessary to address stereotypes and wrong perceptions. For instance, many people wrongly believe that jihad is an act of terrorism by extremist groups.
The problem is common in the Western countries, especially in the United States and Europe (Kirkman & Harris 2017). Many of them view Muslims as jihadists who can attack innocent civilians through suicide bombing or any other such related acts. What they forget to understand is that sometimes Muslims are the victims of such attacks by extremists who pose as jihadists. When sensitizing employees, they need to understand the meaning of jihad, its noble course, and why many people misuse it to achieve selfish goals. The training should help individual employees to learn about others’ varying cultural practices and why they still embrace it.
As long as their practices and beliefs are not against the law or common policies, they should be respected. As Triana (2017) argues, it is insensitive to hate a given group of people because of their culture when it is impossible to eliminate them from the society or in the workplace. The hatred will end up affecting everyone negatively.
Integration is often achieved through close interaction among people of varying cultural beliefs and practices. According to Saunders and Lewis (2017), the perception that people tend to have about others is based on rumors and stereotypes. In the United States, there is a perception that African Americans are more likely to engage in criminal activities such as drug trafficking, kidnapping, and armed robbery. Statistics show that such statistics are misleading because these crimes are committed by people of varying races. Wrong perceptions make it difficult for one to develop independent opinion of their colleagues in the workplace (Colombo 2014). However, when these employees are allowed to interact freely, these issues are often addressed. Having teambuilding retreats is one of the best ways of achieving this goal.
During the retreat, employees are freed from the pressure at work. They are given opportunities to focus on themselves and to understand who they are and what makes them different from others. During light moments, they can get to discuss issues that create rifts in the workplace. Simple games, where people form teams consisting of people from different cultures, create a perfect opportunity for the employees to bond.
They learn to work as a unit to achieve a common goal. They get to learn how to overcome the personal and cultural differences to realize a common vision. Parhizgar (2013) argues that in most of the cases, the team spirit if often replicated in the workplace. The strong bond of friendship created during retreats will help promote the unity needed to realize specific objectives at various departments.
Performance Management System
Understanding the Concept of Performance Management
Performance management is one of the critical factors gaining popularity in the modern firms. According to Triana (2017), large multinational corporations such as Ford Motor Company, the Coca Cola Company, and Land Rover founded before the Second World War enjoyed market dominance because of limited competition. Their primary concern was to make products available in the market. However, that has changed as more companies invade the local and international market. The ability of a firm to survive in the market depends on its ability to overcome various forces, top of which is competition (Guirdham & Guirdham 2017). As such, top managers are keen on embracing performance management techniques that can help increase profitability while at the same time lowering the cost of production.
Managing the performance of employees is a critical step towards achieving the desired level of success within an organization. As Wróblewski (2017) explained, performance management has evolved over time. In the past, top managers measured performance of every department. It was the responsibility of the heads of every department to ensure that his or her team members delivered the desired output as a way of improving the performance of the entire unit.
However, the focus has shifted from the departmental level to individual employees. Companies have realized that the only way of having a lean and effective workforce is to monitor the performance of an individual worker. It is the best way of eliminating redundancy and ensuring that every individual employee is of value to the firm. If it is established that a given worker has no value to the firm, he or she can be eliminated from the company to improve efficiency.
Ways of Measuring Employees’ Performance
It is necessary to come up with a standard way of measuring the performance of the employees. The approach that a firm embraces depends on what it seeks from a specific worker. According to Saunders and Lewis (2017), the department within which an employee works defines the way that will be used to measure his or her performance. An employee working in the production floor will have his or her performance measured by determining the units produced per hour, day, week, or month.
When trying to compare the performance of such employees, their production rate per given period will be established to determine whether they deliver what is expected of them. Sometimes it may be necessary to determine the quality of products they deliver. An employee may be delivering impressive results in terms of quantity, but the quality may be too poor to be delivered to the market. That can be a serious concern (Kirkman & Harris 2017). The quality must meet the company’s standards. When that cannot be met, it may be necessary to transfer such an employee to another department or eliminate him or her from the company.
The employees’ performance can also be measured through the feedback received from clients. A sales agent who is assigned the responsibility of delivering products to the customers plays a critical role in the success of the firm. The manner in which these workers handle customers define whether there will be a strong bond created between the customer and the company. The performance of such an employee can be determined through the positive feedback or constant complaints from clients. In case it is established that the relationship between that employee and customers is poor, a corrective measure should be taken to address the issue.
Companies are now introducing quality assurance departments to monitor the performance of every employee within the firm. They review the work done at each department to establish whether they meet the set criteria. Irrespective of the approach that a firm takes to determine the performance of its employees, the primary goal is to always ensure that each worker’s output meets the expectations of the management.
Introducing a New Performance Appraisal System
Introducing a new performance appraisal system can be a very challenging process in an organizational setting, especially if the organization was not using one prior to the new introduction. According to Saunders and Lewis (2017), every time change is introduced within a firm, many people often develop fear because of a number of reasons. When it happens that the management is introducing a new performance appraisal system, there may be fear among most of the employees.
They may feel that they are being targeted for dismissal. It is necessary to introduce change in a way that will not cause fear among the employees. They should feel that the new system focuses on promoting the overall performance of the company other than targeting a few individuals for the purpose of dismissal. Wróblewski (2017) argues that at this stage, it may be necessary to introduce theoretical concepts which have been proven to work when introducing change. One such theory is Kurt Lewin’s Change model.
According to Kirkman and Harris (2017), Lewin’s model of change identifies three steps that should be taken to introduce change in a way that eliminates cases of resistance among the targeted group. The first stage is to unfreeze, as shown in figure 1 below. Unfreezing involves preparing the entire organization for change. When preparing people to move from one system to another, it is necessary to explain to them why it is necessary to do so.
They need to understand that the current system can no longer deliver the value that is required. They should be involved in the entire process of developing the new system to avoid the fear of the unknown. It should be clear to them the goal that the management seeks to realize through the new system. Unfreezing, as Triana (2017) argues, also involves making the team to understand the fundamental weaknesses of the current system and what can be done to align a company’s operations and products with the emerging market needs.
The second stage is the actual change process. Employees shift from the previous method of doing things to a new one. In case the first stage was a success, the second and most important stage of introducing the new system will be easy. At this stage, it is expected that the employees will be aware of the reasons behind the change and their new role under the introduced system. Their fears will be addressed well before the system is introduced (Kirkman & Harris 2017).
The last stage is to refreeze. It involves reinforcing the new system. The team may need to take the employees through some form of training to ensure that they can work effectively under the new system. At times it may be necessary to invite experts to guide the employees under the new system. Of primary interest would be to ensure that workers can deliver the expected value under the new system. The figure below identifies the three stages.
According to Saunders and Lewis (2017), when introducing change to a multicultural team, so many challenges may arise. In such a case, the management has to take into consideration numerous factors before introducing change. People from different parts of the world have varying work ethics partly because of their culture. In North America and Europe, people strictly adhere to the nine-to-five rule in terms of when they should report to work and when they have to leave respectively. If one has to work beyond that time, there must be a proper justification for that and he or she will have to be compensated for the overtime.
On the other hand, Japanese have a culture where it is normal for a person to work for ten or eleven hours in a day. Even if the overtime is paid, such employees find it easy taking longer hours at work. When a new system requires employees to work for longer hours, it is critical to appreciate that not everyone will be comfortable with the move. As such, it may be necessary to help the group that is slow to change so that it can adopt to the new system. These changes should not be sudden to ensure that everyone is taken care of in the process.
The review of literature above has provided detailed background information of the issue under investigation. It is evident that introducing a new performance management system to a multicultural team may be challenging. However, it was evident that most of the available literature focuses on developed countries of Europe and North America. The researcher could not find adequate literatures that focus on the issue in the local context. Saudi Arabia as a country is unique in very front. The culture that majority of people embrace is different from that of the western countries (Kirkman & Harris 2017).
Some of the concepts that scholars developed in the United States may be relevant locally, but others may not because of the cultural difference. As such, it is necessary to develop this topic based on the local context. Issues such as religion, political environment, general level of education of the populace, and economic forces in a country have a significant impact on performance management that a firm embraces. It makes it critical to conduct this investigation in the local context.
In the previous chapter, the researcher has provided a detailed review of the literature on this topic. The review of the literature identified research gaps that should be addressed through collection and analysis of primary data. In this chapter, the focus was to provide a detailed explanation of the method used to collect and analyze data, and the assumptions that were embraced in the process. The chapter looks at the research philosophy, research approach, and the design that was used. It discusses the sample size and sampling strategy used to collect data. The structure of the instrument used to collect data is also discussed in the chapter. It ends with a discussion of ethical considerations that were observed in the paper.
According to Bernard (2013), one of the first steps that should be taken when conducting a research is to define the appropriate philosophy that needs to be embraced in a given study. Fowler (2013, p. 56) defines research philosophy as “a belief about the way in which data about a phenomenon should be gathered, analyzed and used.” It defines the assumptions that should be taken when investigating an issue.
In the research onion shown in figure 2 below, defining research philosophy is the first step that one must take when conducting a study. One may choose to use positivism, realism, interpretivism, or pragmatism as the most appropriate research design. The choice of the design depends on the nature of the study. It is necessary to discuss each of these philosophies briefly before explaining why one was finally chosen.
One of the most popular philosophies in social sciences is positivism. According to Bernard (2013), the philosophy holds the view that a concept can only be considered factual if it is gained through observation. When using this philosophy, a researcher must understand that his or her role is limited to data collection, analysis, and interpretation (Tracy 2013). It does not allow a researcher to involve personal views or to influence the process under investigation in any way. The goal is to ensure that a given phenomenon is investigated in its natural environment and without changing any of the factors that influence it.
After making observation, one is expected to conduct analysis that can explain why a given event happens in a given way. Positivism is popular when a researcher is interested in conducting a statistical analysis. The observation made should be coded and analyzed mathematically before coming up with conclusion based on the interpretation made from the analyzed data. It might be a good philosophy but it was not applied because it is only appropriate when conducting a mathematical analysis. As such, it was not used in this study.
A researcher may choose to use realism as the most appropriate philosophy. According to Fowler (2013), the philosophy brings into the view that reality is independent from human mind. What one holds to be the truth may not make a lot of sense to another person. Factors such as cultural beliefs and practices, experience, and academic background – all have significant influence on how one interprets the world. Prejudice, on the other hand, clouds one’s judgment, making it impossible to determine what is true in a given context. As such, it emphasizes on the need to embrace scientific research as a way of determining the truth.
Irrespective of one’s cultural belief and practices, scientific analysis always reveal the truth the way it is without prejudice. The philosophy is popular among pure scientists. It is rarely used by social scientists. It is not possible to investigate the response from a multicultural team to a new performance management system through a laboratory test. As such, it was considered inappropriate for this study.
It is possible for one to use interpretivism as the relevant philosophy based on the nature of the study. Bernard (2013) argues that interpretivism holds up to the view that “reality can only be determined through social constructions such as consciousness, language, and shared meaning.” It also allows the use of instruments when collecting data. One of the factors that make it distinct from the other three philosophies is that it requires a researcher to be actively involved with the participant in order to understand a given phenomenon (Tracy 2013).
For instance, when investigating how a team of multicultural employees would react to a new performance management system, the researcher should be part of the employees. Instead of asking a group of participants how they will react, the researcher will be part of the team. He or she will live the phenomenon and can tell, based on firsthand experience, and can provide a detailed and unbiased explanation as to why they responded in a given manner. It would be an appropriate philosophy in this study. However, it takes a lot of time to mingle with the targeted population and understand how they would respond to such changes. In this academic research, time was of great essence. As such, it was not considered appropriate.
It is possible to use pragmatism as the right philosophy depending on the research goals and objectives. According to Bryman and Bell (2015), it is of the view that a concept can only be true and relevant if it can support an action. It allows a researcher to be flexible when conducting an analysis with the primary focus being placed on the conclusion made in the study. It understands that people may understand reality from different perspectives based on different demographical factors such as social background, level of education, religious beliefs, and experience (Tracy, 2013). It is okay to take different paths towards unraveling the truth, but of great importance is to ensure that the concept developed can support an action.
The philosophy supports the use of both qualitative and quantitative research methods when developing a concept. When investigating the possible response from a multicultural team to a new performance management system, it is necessary to use mixed method research. It is also necessary to appreciate that different people may have different views to a given issue because of the diversity. As such, it was considered the most appropriate research philosophy for this study. It facilitated making the right assumptions when collecting and analyzing data.
When the appropriate research philosophy has been identified, the next step is to determine the approach that appropriate for the study. As Bernard (2013) observes, it is important to ensure that the chosen research approach is in line with the selected philosophy. One can choose to use either deductive or inductive approach depending on the nature of the research question. It is necessary to review each before selecting the one appropriate for the research.
When conducting a research, one can choose to use deductive reasoning depending on the chosen philosophy and the aim of the study. When using this approach, Fowler (2013) argues that a researcher should start by developing hypothesis. After developing the hypotheses, the goal of the focus will be to confirm or reject them based on the primary data collected from the participants. In some cases, it all starts by having a theory upon which the hypotheses are based. As shown in figure 3 below, the first step is to identify the relevant theory before developing the hypotheses. The researcher will then be required to conduct observations and then test the hypotheses.
The final stage is to confirm or reject the hypotheses. When a hypothesis is rejected, it is a sign that the theory does not hold true under the conditions under which the research was conducted. On the other hand, if the hypothesis is accepted, it is an indication that the theory can be applied in the setting under which the research was conducted. Given that this was a mixed method research, this approach was avoided because it emphasizes the need to use mathematical analysis.
The second approach that a researcher can use when conducting a study is the inductive reasoning, which is commonly used in social sciences. According to Fowler (2013), unlike deductive research, this approach does not require the formulation of hypotheses (Rovai, Baker & Ponton 2013). It requires a researcher to develop goals and objectives of the study based on the topic that is to be investigated.
When using this approach, a researcher is expected to use the questions based on the objectives that should be realized. As shown in figure 4 below, it starts with making observation. It should be made with the goal of achieving the research objectives. Through the observation, a pattern should be developed to explain the phenomenon. The final step is to come up with a theory. It is a complete opposite approach to the one discussed above. Saunders and Lewis (2017) explain that it is not mandatory to develop a theory when using this approach. Developing a new knowledge body by addressing research gaps may be sufficient.
The next step after selecting the appropriate philosophy and research approach is to define the appropriate design for the study. According to Bernard (2013), the design chosen should be based on the topic that the study seeks to address. One can choose qualitative, quantitative, or mixed method research. Investigating the response from a multicultural team to a new performance management system requires the use of both qualitative and quantitative research designs (the mixed method research). According to Bryman and Bell (2015), mixed research method is the most demanding approach because it integrates both qualitative and quantitative data analysis. However, it is popular because it facilitates a comprehensive analysis of data.
When conducting this investigation, it was necessary to determine the percentage of those who report that they fear, resent, or support a new performance management system in their current organization. Using mathematical approach, it is possible to establish the degree to which such new systems are popular or unpopular within that particular organization. On the other hand, qualitative data analysis facilitated a comprehensive analysis of reasons behind the support or resentment that some of the workers have towards a new performance management system.
It is one thing to determine that a significant number of participants resent such a new system and another to establish why that is so. Using detailed explanation from the respondents, it was possible to understand reasons behind the statistics that was collected from the participants. It provided the needed justification to have a deeper insight into the issue under investigation.
Target Population and Sampling
When planning to select a sample of participants in a given study, it is often necessary to start by understand the population. In this case, the population refers to the people who are directly affected by the issue being investigated, and therefore data can be collected from them based on the exclusion criteria set. Data could be collected from individuals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who are currently working in multicultural organizations.
They included both local and foreign workers in mid-sized and large companies. The country has seen a massive influx of immigrant workers, especially in the petroleum and trade sectors of the economy. According to Fowler (2013), it is almost impossible to find a large company in Saudi Arabia that only employs locals. In the construction sector, foreigners from Europe, North America, and Far East have been hired as firms struggle to get experts to help in the growth of the industry. The transport sector has hired many foreign drivers from parts of Africa and other Asian countries. It is expected that the population of individuals who meet the set criteria for participation in this research exceeds one million.
When it is established that the population size is considerably large, it becomes necessary to have a manageable sample from which to collect primary data. In this case, it is already established that there are over one million people who can be investigated to help understand the issue being investigated. Ideally, the best way of getting a comprehensive understanding of the issue is to interview the entire population.
However, Bernard (2013) observes that many factors often make it impossible to do so. It requires a lot of time to track down and investigate every single person who passes the inclusion criteria. For an academic researcher with a limited time within which the study must be completed, it is not possible to track down all the participants. It may also require a significant amount of resources because enumerators will be needed to administer questionnaires to the respondents.
The financial scope required in such undertakings is beyond the capacity of the researcher. Bernard (2013) explains that some participants may deliberately avoid such interviews for personal reasons. Some may be in the country illegally and as such, fear that exposing their nationality may have serious repercussions. It means that even if one has all the time and resources needed to conduct such a comprehensive interview, it is still possible that some individuals will be left out. As such, it was necessary to come up with a small sample for the study. The researcher identified 20 participants to help with data collection.
After defining the procedures to be taken in collecting data and assumptions necessary, the next step was to put the plan into action. In this section, it is necessary to identify these actions taken in the study, from the selection of the participants and methods used to protect their identity to data collection and analysis.
The first step in the primary data collection process was to select participants in the study. Bryman and Bell (2015) argue that when selecting participants in an academic study. A number of factors have to be taken into consideration. The ease with which participants can be reached; their availability and willingness to be part of the study, and the ability to provide trustworthy information are some of the factors to be considered.
With the limited time available for the project, the researcher identified individuals who were easily accessible. It was not possible to seek for permission from the organizations that employees these individuals within that short time. As such, the researcher ran a sponsored advertisement within the area of interest requesting individuals working in multicultural companies to take part in the study. Those who responded were contacted through their Facebook accounts and requested to take part in phone interview. Due diligence was taken to ascertain that these individuals were working in specific organizations as they claimed. 20 participants finally participated in the data collection.
Protection of Participants
According to Fowler (2013), one of the most important ethical considerations that a researcher must observe is the protection of the identity of the participants. In this particular study, it was critical to ensure that the identity of the participants remained anonymous because express permission was not obtained from their employers due to the limited time available for the research. Bernard (2013) explains that some employers are always strict and do not expect their workers to participate in studies that they have not authorized. As such, the identity of the respondents remained anonymous.
They were reminded that their identity will not be revealed as a way of protecting them from any form of intimidation. For those who felt that their participation may put them in harm’s way, the researcher allowed them to withdraw at any stage of the study as per their wish. They were replaced with others willing to be part of the study.
Determining the response from a multicultural team to a new performance management system may require some form of expert review. As Fowler (2013) explains, sometimes it may be confusing when it turns out that people with similar demographical factors have different views on a critical issue being investigated. For instance, it would be expected that two immigrants who share demographical factors (race, age group, gender, religion, and the level of education) share views on issues such as racial prejudice within a given organization. When their answers to such a question contradict, it may be confusing.
Having an expert opinion may help in clarifying such issues. In the process, it becomes possible to have a comprehensive understanding of factors that may lead to such variations. Expert opinion may also provide new information on the issue being investigated beyond what is obtained from the respondents through the interview.
Data was collected from the participants through a phone interview. After ensuring that the sampled participants were comfortable taking part in this study, they were prepared for the phone interview. The researcher ensured that the participants were properly prepared for the interview. It was agreed that the interview would be conducted in the evening after coming from work. Every interview session lasted about 20-25 minutes.
To minimize time wastage, the questions were sent to them prior to the time of the interview. The researcher administered the questionnaire. To ensure that the interview was completed within the shortest time possible, a voice recorder was used to accurately capture the response of the participants. Instead of writing the responses, which would have taken more time, voice recording made it easy to complete the interview within the agreed upon period.
The final stage was to analyze data collected from the participants. The researcher chose mixed method research as the most appropriate design for the study. It means that data collected from the participants had to be analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. As shown in the instrument used to collected data, there were both structured and unstructured questions. Using structured questions, information obtained from the participants was coded for mathematical analysis.
Using excel spreadsheet, data was analyzed and presented in the form of graphs and charts. Bernard (2013) explains that using such figures makes it easy for readers to understand the facts presented. Using qualitative data, the researcher was able to use specific phenomena where employees reacted in a given way when a new performance management system was introduced. The detailed explanations provided by the respondents made it easy to understand the statistical findings.
Instrument of Data Collection
Structure of the Instrument
The researcher developed a simple questionnaire to help in the process of collecting data from the sampled respondents. The questionnaire was developed to ensure that data was collected in a uniform format. The instrument had three main sections. The first section focused on the demographical factors of the respondents. Fowler (2013) explains that when collecting data from a sample of participants, it is important to understand that factors such as age, gender, and nationality of the respondents may define their bias when answering some question.
For instance, one of the issues that the research focused on was how local firms manage diversity as a way of making it easy to introduce a new performance management system within the organization. It is easy for the locals, who are the majority, to state that diversity is handled well because they are not affected by cultural intolerance within the firm. On the other hand, it is possible for an immigrant worker to complain about prejudice based on their personal experiences. By capturing these demographical facts of the respondents, it is possible to identify and address any possible bias on the data collected.
The second part of the questionnaire focused on their academic qualifications. Picardi and Masick (2013) argue that the level of education of an individual defines the manner in which he or she responds to a specific question. The same case applies to their experience. A person who has worked in a given field for some time is best placed to answer specific questions relating to the workplace than a new employee. As such, it was also necessary to capture these facts. The last part of the paper focused on specific questions relating to the response from a multicultural team to a new performance management system. The instrument is attached in the appendix 1 of this document.
When conducting an academic research, it is often necessary to put into consideration a number of ethical factors. According to Bryman and Bell (2015), one of the main ethical concerns that should be observed when conducting research is to protect the identity of the participants, especially when the topic is controversial. The issue of diversity in an organizational setting is not controversial.
However, it was still considered prudent for the researcher to ensure that the individuals who agreed to be part of the investigation are protected. Instead of using their real names, the respondents were assigned numerical names as a way of protecting their identity. Picardi and Masick (2013) emphasize the need to get express permission from the respondents before engaging them in the data collection process. To achieve this requirement, the researcher started by explaining to the respondents the aim and objective of the study. They were also informed about their role in the project and how their participation will be of importance to local firms which have diversified workplace.
The researcher informed every respondent that participation was on a voluntary basis. They had the liberty to withdraw from the study at any stage when they felt it was necessary. Time and location of the interview was agreed upon based on the schedule of the respondents. As an academic project, it was also necessary to abide by school rules and regulations. The researcher ensured that any form of plagiarism was avoided in the study. Any information taken from secondary sources was appropriately referenced using Harvard referencing style. Time was another ethical factor that had to be observed. The researcher made an effort to ensure that the report was ready within the time set by the school.
Analysis and Discussion
In the previous section, the researcher has provided a detailed explanation of the method used to collect, analyze, and present data collected from the participants. In this section, the focus is to present the findings based on the analysis of primary data collected. As Guirdham and Guirdham (2017) explain, the best way of addressing knowledge gaps in a given field is to collect and analyze primary data that focuses on the gaps identified. The response that can be obtained from a team of multicultural workers to a new performance management system may vary depending on numerous factors. The questions presented in chapter one had to be answered in this section. The first question focused on determining factors which determine the perception of workers towards a new performance management system.
In this question, each of the respondents were requested to identity only one factor that they believe significantly influence their perception towards a new performance management system. The respondents identified four main factors, which include the level of education, experience, age, and culture. Figure 5 below shows the number of participants who identified each of the four factors as critical.
As evident above, a significant number of respondents stated that the level of education is a major factor that defines the perception. Highly educated employees are empowered to manage such changes with ease because they have the relevant skills to do so. They are rarely scared of the new system because of their unique capabilities. Colleagues with limited level of education often feel scared of a new performance system.
It takes time for them to change from one system to another and whenever a time comes for such a change, they develop fear. Another important factor that was identified was age. When asked to explain, some of these respondents stated that the older employees tend to fear change. They look at the new performance management system as a tool that can be used against them because of their reduced performance at work. In many cases, they tend to influence others to resist such changes. On the other hand, the younger workers tend to be more comfortable with the new systems, especially if they are based on emerging technologies. They consider such initiatives as opportunities to learn something new and to improve their performance at work.
Culture and experience were less prominent, but they were also considered factors that cannot be ignored when introducing change. Sometimes the culture of a given individual makes him or her slow when it comes to embracing change. Whenever a new approach of undertaking activities is introduced, they develop fear. Experience was another factor that they identified as worth noting. It may affect the perception of the multicultural team in different ways.
Sometimes when a worker is highly experienced in a given field, he or she may fear change because it may render their experience meaningless. In other cases, the experience may make it easy for one to shift to the new system, making them more receptive to it that their colleagues who lack the same. The second question below focused on the challenges that affect the ability to introduce a new performance management system in a multicultural organization.
What are the challenges which exist when introducing a new system in a diversified workplace environment?
The respondents identified a number of factors which directly affect the ability of an organization to introduce such a new system. One of the major challenges identified by the respondents is employee resistance. As Hays-Thomas (2017) admits, change is an inevitable eventuality within a given organization. However, people tend to fear it because of numerous factors identified above. When opportunity to introduce change arises, the fear that workers have may force them to reject it.
Such cases are always common when the change is sudden. It is also a common issue if they were not properly consulted when planning the new system. If the management is unable to convince the workers to embrace the new performance management system, it may be impossible to introduce it. They may deliberately sabotage the implementation of the new system as a sign of showing their dissatisfaction and disaffection towards it.
The respondents also identified cultural intolerance as a major factor that may affect implementation of a new system. In an organization where employees are from varying cultures, achieving harmony may sometimes be challenging to introduce a new performance management system, especially if they fail to understand and appreciate their diversity. Every time the top management unit comes up with a plan of introducing a new system, it is necessary to ensure that there is unity among the employees. They need to work together and be committed to helping one another whenever necessary to ensure that they understand the new system.
Cultural intolerance makes it almost impossible to achieve such goals. Instead of the employees helping one another under the new system, they deliberately try to sabotage their colleagues just to ensure that they fail because of the hatred.
Having a team of workers with limited education may be another critical factor that may affect the ability to implement a new performance system within an organization. Knowledge empowers workers and makes them flexible when it comes to handling various tasks. The employee may not have a proper understanding of the new system. However, using their knowledge and skills, they are able to navigate through it and learn through experience.
When experts are brought in to train workers on the new system, those with limited education take time to learn. Hartmann and Vachon (2017) state that sometimes these employees feel frustrated and targeted by the new system. They develop negative perception towards it, which further complicates the implementation. Many respondents believe that colleagues with limited education often hinder effective and timely implementation of new systems. The next question focuses on the specific fears that multicultural term of employees may have when it is necessary to introduce a new system
What are the specific fears that multiracial team of employees may have whenever it is necessary to introduce a new system?
According to the respondents interviewed in this study, fear was identified as a major factor that hinder the ability of an organization to introduce a new performance management. The best way of addressing the problem of fear is to start by identifying the specific fear factors. The source of the fear should then be identified. It then becomes possible to address them in an effective manner. Figure five below identifies the specific fears that that employees tend to have towards a new performance management system.
According to the data collected from the respondents, one of the greatest fears of employees whenever a new system is introduced is the possibility of losing their jobs. In the past, new systems have been associated with automation that renders human services unnecessary (Holz 2016). Every time an organization announces its intention of introducing change in its operation, it is not easy for its employees to shake off the fear of possibly being laid off in the process. Such fears may make them sabotage the change.
In case they cannot do so, they may end up getting seriously discouraged and unfocused on their work as they try to look for alternative job opportunities. One respondent noted that one of the reasons why such fears are common is because of the poor manner in which they are introduced. More often the employees are informed about the planned change on the day when it is just about to be introduced, which means that they are ill prepared for it. Another major concern is the fear of the uncertain future.
Even after assuring workers that their job is secure, there is always the doubt about what such change may bring in future. It may seem that all is well at the moment but as the company embraces the new system, it is possible that other issues may arise, which may be a threat to their current position at work. Some employees fear that their performance under the new system may not be as impressive as it currently is.
As such, they may end up losing their prestigious positions to become lower ranking officers because of the perceived incompetence. Sometimes such demotions are accompanied by reduced salaries. A few respondents felt that sometimes change is introduced to target individuals who are unwanted within the firm. Such a system is meant to make things difficult for them in the workplace so that proper justification can be obtained to punish them unfairly. The last question below focused on determining how the management can introduce a new performance management system successfully and without facing the numerous challenges identified in this study.
How can the management unit introduce a new performance management system without facing a significant resistance from employees?
The respondents cited many ways in which the management can overcome these challenges when managing change. The information gathered reveals that one of the reasons why multicultural teams tend to reject change is the poor manner in which they are often introduced. As such, the first step that the management should take is to develop a systematic way of introducing change in an organization.
Respondent 3 argue that “it is necessary for the management to use models such as that developed by Kurt Lewin to manage change. This model ensures that employees are properly prepared before change can be introduced within an organization.”
Respondent 7 stated that “when introducing a new performance management system, the leadership of an organization should be clear about the weaknesses that need to be addressed and the steps that will be taken by every stakeholder to ensure that the desired level of success is realized.”
It is clear that having a systematic way of introducing change in a seamless manner within a firm is critical but not the only step that should be taken by the management. It should be clear why the new system is being introduced by indicating issues that need to be addressed. This way, team members will not feel unfairly targeted by such moves. Inclusivity when developing such systems is also of great significance. Before a system can be introduced, all stakeholders should be involved and their views taken into consideration.
This way, everyone will feel part of the new system. The respondents also suggested that it is necessary to take the workers through regular training to horn their skills. These employees will find it easy adjusting to the new system if they are taken through such regular trainings. Some respondents emphasized the need to promote unity among the workforce.
A unified team can easily manage challenges associated with change. Instead of viewing one another as rivals, workers will view themselves as members of one team that must work as a unit to achieve a common goal. Cases of wrangles and intimidation often discourage creativity and innovativeness among the workers. It may be necessary for the top management unit to be strict when it comes to fighting such practices (Holz 2016). While they are assured of their jobs when a new system is introduced, the management should be firm when fighting intolerance. The respondents were unanimously in agreement with the fact that it is not possible to avoid change in an organizational setting.
They also believed that whether change is accepted or rejected in a firm depends on the manner in which it is introduced and internal factors within such an entity. As such, the management should not ignore its role in ensuring that multicultural teams respond positively to a new performance management system.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The current competitive business environment requires proactive strategies that can enable a firm to achieve specific goals within the desired time and using the minimal resources possible. In the past, firms focused on ensuring that individual department registered impressive performance. However, that is changing in the modern society because of the numerous challenges that firms have to deal with every time.
Performance appraisal system now focuses on individual employee instead of departments. Different performance management systems have since emerged. As shown in the information gathered from both primary and secondary sources, it is prudent for a firm to adopt new performance management systems as early as possible to reap maximum benefits that it has to offer. However, it should be remembered that when a firm has a team of multicultural employees, unique challenges may emerge that may hinder effective implementation of such plans.
When investigating the response from a multicultural team to a new performance management system, it was established that several factors may influence the manner in which employees react to such changes. The respondents agreed that it is not possible to avoid change. However, factors such as education, cultural tolerance or lack of it, and unity among employees tend to influence the manner in which such teams respond to a new performance management system. Having a team of highly educated employees who are culturally tolerant and united towards achieving specific goals makes it easy to introduce new systems. However, managing such changes can be challenging when handling a team of workers who are unable or unwilling to appreciate cultural diversity.
The findings of this study reveal that firms in the current market face numerous challenges that make it necessary to implement performance management systems. The challenges identified above may affect the ability of a multicultural firm to implement such changes. The following are some of the recommendations that should be considered to ensure that such systems are introduced in a seamless manner:
- The management should have strict policies that prohibit cultural intolerance in an organizational setting. There should be zero tolerance towards practices that may foster hatred among the workforce.
- It is necessary to take employees through regular training so that they can learn how to remain culturally sensitive within the workplace. Such trainings should also equip them with relevant skills needed to embrace change whenever it is necessary.
- To foster unity within the workforce, the management should consider organizing regular teambuilding retreats for the employees. It helps them to bond and overcome petty differences that may have negative impact on their performance.
- When introducing a new performance management system, it is necessary to use Kurt Lewin’s model of change to reduce resistance. The model prepares employees for the new system effectively.
Implications of the Study
It is clear through this study that firms in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can no longer avoid multiculturalism in the workplace. As immigrant workers come from different parts of the world, these companies find it critical to foster harmony despite the level of diversity that they have to deal with on a daily basis. One of the main implications of this study is that it provides ways in which these companies can deal with these challenges when introducing a new performance management system. It provides a local solution to a local problem but in an international context. The study also outlines the role of different stakeholders in ensuring that change is introduced seamlessly within an organization.
It is necessary to identify limitations in the study because this document may be used to inform policies within an organizational setting. One of the main limitations worth noting is the area within which data was collected. Primary data was obtained from participants in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The relevance of the findings is limited to this country and any generalization of the primary findings should be done having taken into consideration this fact.
The number of people interviewed in the study (20 participants) was also limited. As such, it may be necessary to conduct further studies in this topic using larger sample size. Although it was desirable to conduct a face-to-face interview, the tight work and family schedules of the respondents and the limited time that the researcher had to collect data made it necessary to use phone interviews instead.
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[The focus of this research is to determine the response from a multicultural team to a new performance management system. The primary goal is to determine the ease with which such a new concept can be introduced in a diversified organization. Kindly answer questions below to the best of your knowledge. Participation is on a voluntary basis]
Background and Demographic Information of the Respondents
- What is your age: Tick as appropriate
- Above 55 Years
- What is your gender: Tick as appropriate
- What is your Nationality? Tick as appropriate
- Saudi Arabia
- Non-Saudi National
- Are you currently employed in a large culturally diverse organization?
Academic Qualifications and Experience of the Respondents
- Kindly state your highest academic qualification?
- High School
- College Diploma
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Master’s Degree
- Doctorate Degree
- Are you holding a managerial position in your current organization?
- How long have you been working in the current organization?
- Less than 2 Years
- 2-5 Years
- 6-9 Years
- 10-16 Years
- Over 16 Years
Response of a Multicultural Team to a New Performance Management System
- What is your view on the issue of the relevance of cultural diversity in the workplace? Briefly explain.
- Do you believe that diversity in an organization is an unavoidable phenomenon in the current organizations in the country?
- Strongly Agree
- Not Sure
- Strongly Disagree
- Do you agree with the argument that local firms are increasingly becoming culturally diverse?
- Strongly Agree
- Not Sure
- Strongly Disagree
- Do you believe that your firm is managing cultural diversity in an expected manner?
- Strongly Agree
- Not sure
- Strongly Disagree
- Do you believe that the management of your current organization is culturally diverse?
- Strongly Agree
- Not sure
- Strongly Disagree
- How often does your organization take its employees through training to enable them understand the relevance of performance management?
- Very Often
- Not sure
- Do you believe that majority of employees in your organization understand and appreciate the need to have performance management system?
- Strongly Agree
- Not sure
- Strongly Disagree
- How often does your firm change from one performance management system to another?
- Very often
- Not sure
- In case your answer is yes (Very often or often) to question 15 above, kindly explain some of the factors that often make it necessary to introduce these changes?
- If your answer does not have a standard performance measurement system in place, how is the performance of individual employee measured?
- Do you believe that employees in your organization are often willing and ready to change from one performance management system to another?
- Strongly Agree
- Not sure
- Strongly Disagree
- What are some of the reasons that make employees receptive to such changes as and when they are introduced?
- What are the factors that tend to make a section of the workers to reject or fear such changes within your organization?
- Do you believe the management of this organization is doing enough to make employees more receptive to new performance management systems?
- Strongly Agree
- Not sure
- Strongly Disagree
- What are the key principles that are in place within this firm to promote diversity and to make it easy for employees to embrace change?
Thank you very much for participating in this study. Information collected will be used purely for academic purposes and the identity of the participants will remain confidential.