In my more than 20 years of training and developing leadership skills and supervision of Spanish-speaking employees in the US, and after learning and understanding what makes a person more efficient at their work, I will share some of the factors that influence Hispanic-Latino people to be more productive, loyal, helpful, and efficient.
In this article, I describe my experience related to some of the factors that will help you achieve better results and more productivity from your Hispanic employees. These are not in a specific order, as it depends on the organization, the kind of leadership for each, these may have different importance for each person.
VERBAL COMMUNICATION AND BODY LANGUAGE
Although many of the points I will mention apply to almost every situation and person, they become more critical and sensitive when it comes to people a different culture, language, and/or country. Here I will mention some generalizations that occur with Hispanic-Latino immigrants whose first language is Spanish.
Cultural differences in communication
- Generally, 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 voice tone, intentions, actions, showing the true interest the other person shows and their sensitivity to the needs and constraints Hispanics have. That is, how well do you make them feel when you interact with them.
What to do: Take the time to talk and get to know each of your employees, ask about their family and remember important details. Be sensitive to their needs and limitations and make them feel important.
- Hispanics generally like and seek personal contact, they tend to be more likely to embrace, to handshake, to touch the other person (without malice) and also to stand closer at conversation time.
What to do: Handshake-greet your employees (learn their “handshake”) allow them to stand near you (of course there is always a limit)
- With regard to eye contact, culturally Hispanics tend to avoid eye contact. One reason is that they feel it is disrespectful, and it’s not like they’re hiding something, (though as always there are exceptions).
What to do: 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.
- Another situation with Hispanics is that when you are explaining them something or giving them instructions, many tend to move their head in an affirmative way, but this does not necessarily mean that they understood, or agree with you, it usually means they are paying attention.
What to do: For starters, do not assume that they understood or agreed; ask them what did they understand and what they think of it, to make sure everything is clear and that they understood what you want to convey. And if you were you speaking to them in English, I suggest that in addition to the information or verbal instructions, also give them in written form or send them a text message with the same information, 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.
- Always try to recognize the “Platinum Rule” this is: Treat people the way they want to be treated “, and of course much better if you combine it with the “Golden Rule“: Treat others the want you want to be treated.
What to do: Pay attention to their reactions (body language). Take the time to learn about their culture and customs. Ask them directly what they like and what they don’t like in your way of communicating with them. Also, in a friendly way tell them and explain to them how you prefer them to communicate with you.
- Be very careful not to make comments or use words that might be offensive, discriminatory or racist to avoid problems and lose respect.
What to do: Pay attention to body language and reaction of the other person when you say or comment something. If in doubt, ask your employee if what you said was offensive. If it’s not well, apologize and remember that in order to not repeat it again. Another suggestion is to NOT participate when the comments they make between them are offensive or racist, as this could cause problems for you and the company.
SELF-ESTEEM – INTIMIDATION AND FEAR OF AUTHORITY
With regard to this issue of self-esteem, and security and confidence Latinos have in themselves. This may depend on the educational and cultural level of the person, but again, it also depends on how you make the person feel and how you react to their mistakes and limitations, either in language, knowledge and experience you have on in a particular topic.
How to make their trust and confidence increase in them for your benefit
- Many of the Hispanic-Latinos, especially immigrants, generally have social, cultural and personal insecurities. This makes them distrustful of others and especially to not have confidence themselves.
What to do: About this I recommend helping the person feel welcomed and accepted, and giving recognition and motivation for what they do, especially when they haven’t mastered that task yet. This will cause that person to become more loyal, to give more than what you ask them, and it will be easier for that person to listen and follow your suggestions, tips and instructions, both at work and personally.
- When you feel or you perceive that they don’t believe they can handle any new responsibility this may be more due to lack of confidence in themselves and not so much due to not having the knowledge and expertise.
What to do: My suggestion here is the help that person increase their self-esteem and with that the confidence on being able to do more important things with more responsibility. To accomplish this, ask them to write and make a list of everything they have learned and accomplished in their life, in any area; personal, sports, school, work and family. Just by asking that person to do this and then hear what that person has to say, you will gain their trust, respect and loyalty, as you’re showing interest in personal matters. Of course this depends on each person, and some don’t want to share this information with you, and you also have to respect that.
- The lack of confidence could be really based on that person realizing they do not have the experience or knowledge necessary to undertake this project, position or responsibilities.
- What to do: Take the time to train that person and help them learn, perhaps you’ll have to invest in sending him to a seminar or course to help learn what they don’t know or reaffirm what they already do. For example, you want to promote a person to become a supervisor, and that person doesn’t accept the offer, maybe the reason is that they have no idea of how to do it or are afraid and do not want to fail. Perhaps this is when you can send that employee to take a supervision course.
- In general, Hispanics have a hard time recognizing that they don’t know something or that they haven’t understood. This is related to the issue of self-esteem, I also mentioned this in the communication section. Generally, this relates to personal pride displayed a lot by Hispanic immigrants who have been promoted to supervisory positions and sense the commitment of knowing everything in their post and therefore prefer not to ask questions when they don’t know something or don’t want other work colleagues to realize they don’t know or understand.
What to do: What I suggest you here is to create an environment free of criticism and sarcasm to make the other person feel comfortable and accepts the things they don’t know or did not understand, and telling them that it’s ok “to not know” and what is worst is to not ask not understand something well.