*Typical U.S. employee/employer relations, include a firm handshake and direct eye contact. However in many cultures it may be considered a "challenge" to look at the boss in the eye. In fact a sign of respect may be to not directly look at the employer. It's important that you be aware of your expectations for communication, and share with employees.
Learn to evaluate an employee's understanding of job-related tasks.
The potential for misinterpretation is probably the most important thing to keep in mind when trying to communicate with someone of another language. As mentioned above, an employee doesn't want you to think they are problematic by not being able to perform necessary task. Hence an employee may not totally understand what you are telling them, however may not tell you so. In order to make sure your instructions are being understood, ask the employee to perform the tasks described in front of you, and when/if a mistake is made, demonstrate the correction for the employee.
Build trust with employees of different backgrounds.
Learning a second language is not easy however, it is important to attempt, and even more so, learn more about cultural differences in the workplace and at home. Greetings and salutations are very important in Latin culture, so at least be sure to do so in English, if not attempt them in Spanish.
Find out what it is that is most important to your employee, and why. Surprisingly, many studies find it isn't just money. Flexible scheduling, ability to learn new tasks, traditional, and non-traditional benefits, demonstrated respect, and many other things rate high with employees.
Help your employees locate resources for themselves and their families. Introduce them to area health services, grocery stores, second-hand stores, Extension office, etc. This may include helping them with transportation. Demonstrating you are interested in their well-being can go a long way in successful employee management.
Wagner is the Jackson County Extension agriculture agent and UW-Madison Farm & Industry Short Course Instructor – Spanish for the agricultural sciences.