Cultural Cocktail: How Diverse Backgrounds Build a Dream Team – Minds at Work Podcast #6

For our 6th episode of Minds at Work, we welcomed Katie Holmes, Regional Director at Aspire. In this episode, Katie explains how to engage talent with different cultural motivations.


Host: Olivia Maitre
Guest: Katie Holmes

1.How does motivation differ between European and Asian employees? (1.15)

Based on her experience, Katie starts by affirming that “Motivation” in itself is a broad subject: it depends on what influences you.

Does it foster from yourself? Your family? Your friends? Your co-workers?

Equally, “Culture” comprises of different components: religion, language, social habits, cuisine,… and the list goes on.

She continues by explaining that one’s motivations must be understood by first, understanding the person; ie. their background and their career: where they are at and what they want.

Then, she gave the example that Family is very important for the Asian culture. Not that it’s not for the Westerners, but it’s certainly stronger here in terms of living at home, contributing money out of your own salary towards family, etc. Different motivations for them to earn money.

“Motivations” may differ depending on where you are at in your career. They are ever-changing. She gives the example of a Graduate.

“What I think is really important for people to do is to re-evaluate people’s motivations: not necessarily put people in a box of different cultures. It’s really about understanding them and what they want out of their career. “

She concluded that motivations are not only cultural; many factors influence one’s motivations.
It depends on the actual person.


2.Benefits of multi-cultural workplaces (4.55)

In Hong Kong or in Asia, both for people who are from Hong Kong or not from Hong Kong: they need to mix with each other and appreciate everybody’s differences.

It reminds her of “Sharing is caring”: Westerners, expats, locals are sharing everything.

What’s the point of living overseas when you’re going to get the same environment elsewhere?

It adds a lot for Westerners and expats – equally as it does for locals. You share everything from communication styles, to lifestyle, cuisine, etc.

Being diverse adds a lot of value to anybody. It’s a soft skill that will put you a lot further in your career. 

3.Challenges of multi-cultural workplaces (6.36)

There are always challenges.

The challenge she found is more about the culture of her business: you have to be “Culturally sensitive”: not everyone communicates the same way. 

Some cultures are more reserved, they see hierarchy as a more important aspect than others.

Trying to get other cultures to be more open-minded with what you’re trying to stand for.

She gives the example of Westerners being a bit more open than the Asian Culture that is a bit more reserved.
Both are great in their unique way, but challenges can arise equally.

4. How can cultures work in harmony? (8.03)

Katie starts by explaining that the most important is Respect: to appreciate and respect everybody’s culture.
We need to learn and embrace different cultures.

5. What about leaders? (8.33)

Katie agrees that “It comes from the top.” To set standards it is the role of the leader.
But ultimately, she explains that it comes from everybody. It can’t only be the leader’s role.

6. How do you understand the motivations of your team? (9.15)

Katie explains that when she interviews or recruits for her team, she understands their motivations when she asks questions about what their values are; if their values correlate with the company’s values.

As Recruitment is essentially a Sales environment – it’s important that there are certain motivations related to Sales.

She gave the example of a questionnaire they use on Motivations – which gives good insight into how people are rating themselves.

“Therefore, it is used as a management tool to be able to motivate them and to know what buttons are to press.”

7.  Katie shares her worst experience…  (11.41)

Katie has made us laugh when sharing her worst experience while recruiting!

8. Before sharing what motivates her! (12.32)

For her, motivations do change – but what gets her out of bed is her team: she wants to see them succeed and be a leader that they can look up to.

“We effectively change people’s lives. We shouldn’t take it for granted.”

We had a very good time interviewing Katie. We hope you enjoyed listening as much as we did recording!

Stay tuned for #MindsatWork 7th Episode!

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