Avoiding Costly Mistakes in Managing Hispanic Employees
Managers often encounter communication challenges when dealing with Hispanic employees, which can lead to suboptimal performance among Latino supervisors.
Drawing from over two decades of experience teaching and coaching Spanish-speaking employees, specializing in the development of effective Hispanic/Latino supervisors across various U.S. industries, I’ve gained valuable insights into how management styles impact the productivity of a diverse workforce.
In this report, I will highlight critical mistakes managers should avoid when interacting with Hispanic/Latino employees whose primary language is Spanish.
Disclaimer: The importance of these points may vary depending on the organization, leadership style, and individual circumstances.
In general, Hispanics are more interested in developing a long-term relationship; a relationship based on trust and respect. This can take time.
Trust begins to develop from how they perceive your tone of voice, intentions, actions, and your true interest in helping them, as well as your sensitivity to their needs and constraints as Hispanics/Latinos.
Everything is based on how well you make them feel when you interact with them.
Discover the power of building genuine connections that transcend cultural boundaries and create meaningful relationships that last.
Take the time to talk and get to know each of your employees, ask about their family, friends, life, and remember important details.
Be sensitive and emphatic to their needs and limitations, and more importantly, make them feel valued.
2. Not Embracing Personal Contact
Hispanics/Latinos generally embrace personal contact, often initiating handshakes and maintaining closer proximity during conversations.
Welcome your employees with handshakes (learn their preferred style) and allow them to stand closer during discussions (within reasonable boundaries).
3. Misinterpreting Their Eye Contact Behavior
Regarding eye contacts, culturally Hispanics/Latinos tend to avoid eye contact.
One reason is that they feel it is disrespectful, but don’t assume they’re hiding something, though, as always, there are exceptions.
Do not force the person to look into your eyes and don’t react in a suspicious manner if they don’t look you into the eye.
Make them feel comfortable. Be mindful of cultural differences and respect personal boundaries.
Instead of focusing on eye contact, pay attention to their body language and engage in active listening.
Show empathy and understanding to create a safe and welcoming environment.
4. Avoiding Assumptions and Seeking Affirmation
Hispanics/Latinos tend to move their head in an affirmative way during the conversation, but this does not necessarily mean that they understand. The gesture is usually a sign that they are paying attention to you.
To begin with, do not assume that they understood or agreed. Moving forward, it is important to engage them in a conversation and ask for their feedback.
Encourage them to share their perspectives and clarify any misunderstandings. By actively involving them in the dialogue, you can ensure effective communication and build stronger connections.
Remember, assumptions can hinder understanding, so let’s embrace inclusivity and open communication for better mutual comprehension.
Ask them what they understood and what they think about it, to make sure that everything is clear and that they understood the information.
And if you were speaking to them in English, I suggest that in addition to the verbal instructions, also give them the instructions in written form or send them a text message, even if it’s in English, because if they did not understand and were afraid to ask, maybe they will ask someone else to help them translate the written message you gave them.
5. Adapting Communication for Effectiveness
When communicating with Hispanic/Latino employees, always try to recognize the “Platinum Rule” which is: Treat people the way they want to be treated, and even better to combine it with the “Golden Rule”: Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Pay attention to their reaction through their tone of voice and body language when you say or act upon something, and if you notice a negative reaction, ask them directly what they did and did not like in your way of communication.
Take the time to learn about their culture and customs related to interpersonal communication.
Also, in a friendly manner, explain how you prefer them to communicate with you to prevent misunderstandings for a more cooperative relationship.