Minggu, 27 Agustus 2017

Hurdles to Cross Cultural Business Communication

International businesses are facing new challenges to their internal communication structures due to major reforms brought about through internationalization, downsizing, mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures.
Lack of investment in cross cultural training and language tuition often leads to deficient internal cohesion. The loss of clients/customers, poor staff retention, lack of competitive edge, internal conflicts/power struggles, poor working relations, misunderstandings, stress, poor productivity and lack of co-operation are all by-products of poor cross cultural communication.
Cross cultural communications consultants work with international companies to minimise the above consequences of poor cross cultural awareness. Through such cooperation, consultancies like Kwintessential have recognised common hurdles to effective cross cultural communication within companies.
Here we outline a few examples of these obstacles to cross cultural co-operation:
Lack of Communication
It may seem obvious to state that non-communication is probably the biggest contributor to poor communication. Yet it continues to prove itself as the major problem within most companies.
Lack of communication with staff is not solely due to lack of spoken dialogue. Rather it relates to access to information.
For example, not giving feedback (negative or positive), informing staff of decisions and actions that will affect their roles or failure to properly communicate expectations are all ways in which information can be withheld from staff. This will eventually result in an alienated staff base that feels divided from management and superiors.

If managers are too selective in providing information, this can cause suspicion and jealousy among staff and will eventually result in internal strife instead of cohesion.
A management which does not and will not communicate and interact physically with staff demonstrates a lack of interest, trust and respect.
In the West it is often the case that communication lines are vertical. Staff report up to managers and managers up to senior levels and so on. Ideally lines of communication should run both ways. Those with a subordinate place in the communication process tend to feel estranged, indifferent and possibly even belligerent.
Lack of communication in all its forms is unhealthy. Companies and managers must be aware of how, what and to whom they are communicating.
Communication difficulties through language come in two forms:
Use of inappropriate language
Language carries with it subliminal meanings and messages transmitted through vocabulary, stress and tone. The wrong use of words or emotions hidden behind phrases can send messages that affect staff self-perception, confidence and attitude. Critical language causes poor interpersonal relationships and low self-confidence whereas supportive language and tones has the opposite effect.
Foreign Languages
These days, offices may have native speakers of over 50 languages all under one roof.  It is important that the main language of the office is established, whether it be English, French or Spanish. Once this is constituted all employees should only converse in the main language. This avoids exclusion of staff who can not understand other languages. In addition, a company should ensure that all its employees are fully conversant in the main language. Language tuition should be seen as a necessity not a luxury.
International businesses with a highly diverse workforce in terms of nationality and cultural background face challenges from the differences in language, values, belief systems, business ethics, business practices, behaviour, etiquette and expectations.
Cross cultural differences can negatively impact a business in a variety of ways, whether in team cohesion or in staff productivity. As we have seen above, different methods of communication are just one area in which cross cultural differences are manifested.
In such multicultural companies, objective help may be needed through a cross cultural consultant who will show teams and individuals how to manage communication and work together more cohesively and productively.
Company Culture
Company culture pertains to the internal culture of a company in terms of how it is managed. For example, does the company view its different departments such as sales, production, administration and HR as closed or open systems? A closed system is one in which a total lack of synergy exists between a sales and production department due to the structure and communication lines between the two. A consequence of such compartmentalization is that managers of departments have a tendency to become territorial. It is vital that team work, team building and team spirit are encouraged in order to create open systems.
Such measures are especially valid in joint ventures and mergers whereby co-operation between two or more companies requires their total commitment to an open system.
Understandably many companies are primarily focused on the financial and strategic side of company operations. International businesses are now realising that many of their business problems have roots in man-management and communication.
In summary, we can conclude that the biggest hurdle to effective cross cultural communication is a reluctance to invest in the expertise and resources needed to overcome the problems as outlined above. Cross cultural hurdles are easily negotiable with some objective and well-qualified assistance.

Sabtu, 05 Agustus 2017

Cross Cultural Support - An Essential Relocation Tool

The value of cross-cultural support goes beyond relocation as an essential tool for growing global organisations.

Difficulties in coping with a change of culture can be a major contributory factor when a relocation doesn't work out. Culture shock can add to the pressure on an employee who is already having to cope with the demands of a new job, and may have a negative effect on the whole family, leading to a decision not to continue with the posting - depressing for the family, and costly for the company.

Cross-cultural support is, therefore, of great value, both to individuals and employers when considering international assignments.

Practical cross-cultural awareness programmes for relocation ease the transition for relocating employees and their families, ensuring smooth and successful relocations. They should provide cost-effective, flexible solutions tailored to your organisation's business needs, from recruitment to repatriation.

Cross cultural support would typically include:

Cross-cultural support programmes, for individuals and groups, would generally the basics of everyday living, such as essential documentation, health, climate, transport, cultural differences and similarities and their effects on personal interaction and communication, both in business life and in the wider world.

Employees operating across global platforms, or needing to function effectively in a new country, must understand their own culture and the culture they are operating in as part of their personal and business development.

Industry sector cross-cultural training which would normally address building cross-cultural teams, managing global projects, negotiating and delivering client services and managing international virtual teams.

So, cross cultural support and training is more important when considering international assignments and relocation than it might have previously been credited for. No longer should it be considered as a nice extra, but it should be regarded as an essential part of any international assignment and relocation plan and be included right from the start of the planning process.

Selasa, 25 Juli 2017

Tips to Trust Building on Cross Cultural Teams

Does each one of your employees trust your decision and value your company with their head and heart? What about employees working from offshore locations? Building enough trust among employees is critical to the success of any aspiring business. However, things can get a bit complicated when you are looking to make your presence felt across the globe. What works in the US won't do in India and vice versa. However, given the opportunities of a global market, it is necessary that businesses and brands find a way out.

Building relationships gets harder with cross cultural teams as it is easy to misinterpret intentions and get wrong assumption in the lack of virtual cues. The first difference is the style of communication. At some parts of the world, people like to socialize more than others before getting right to business. Time, trends, political views, standard of living and market behavior further complicate things. So, how can leaders of multinational / multicultural teams seek to use diversity to their advantage without failing to the challenges?

Create a success structure for team building

According to the popular organizational behavior scholar, Dr. Richard Hackman, the ideal way to ensure cross cultural team building success is by creating initial conditioning. This would mean that the entire team has a compelling and clear direction to strive towards. Organizations should be sharing across all resources and information across geographies to fill every employee about the board's agendas. People with the ideal technical skills should be used more in global dexterity and building cultural intelligence. It is also essential to build a staff that is flexible, curious, thoughtful and emotionally stable. Online training and courses will form a part of the journey today.

Understanding cross cultural makeup

To become an effective leader of a cross cultural team, you need to understand every "fault line" created by differences in language, thinking and culture. An uninitiated team that consists of Germans, Koreans and Americans would definitely be a tripwire! While Germans would be comfortable in giving and receiving direct negative feedback, it could be a disaster with Koreans. As a leader, you should be ready for these tensions and solve them swiftly.

Apart from cultural differences, it is also advantageous if the leader also understands differences in personalities, age and gender. You cannot expect an Indian employee to immediately adapt to a longer working day in Germany.

Setting clear norms and sticking to them

Cross cultural teams can be both assets and liabilities as they bring in a wide variety of working styles. Add personal preferences to the mix and things can get really confusing. It is therefore necessary that the team leader chalks out clear norms that are required to be followed by everyone - regardless of the personal bent. That said, it will be best to consider what will work best for the entire team rather than imposing your own personal choices and work styles. For members that find it difficult to adhere to the norms due to their cultural bent, some extra sessions, additional communication and suggestive training will be the answer. A regular inflow of teleconferences, video conferences, email updates and boardroom discussions will compensate the distance barriers between teams.

Try building a personal connection

It doesn't need research to find out that the best tool to fight cross cultural differences and conflicts is by creating a personal bond between team members. However, different cultures have different take on relationship building. Brazilian employees can become friends overnight but it will take a lot of time to gain the trust of a British team. It is therefore necessary to foster a rapport at each stage and every day of working. It is the job of the leaders to find the opportunities of communication. Perhaps an employee is also passionate about photography and would love to have his work featured in the website. Social events of this sort can help a lot in engaging better communication and introducing team members across cultures to one another. The benefits circle back directly to the productivity.

Address conflicts then and there

Conflicts, especially in the context of cross cultural teams, don't need to be shut down and kept in the cellar. While differences in opinion are inevitable when you are working with such a huge group, you should also ensure that arguments don't grow to an extent that they will be impossible to manage. It is the leaders who should serve as a cultural bridge and be ready to initiate a frank group discussion and hear out everyone. At the end of the day, there should be no drama! At the same time, treat everyone as equal as everyone prizes a democratic leadership.

Sometimes, you will need to take a long lunch to understand someone and sometimes it is the choice of the desert that opens up a person. The only thing that is common in a cross cultural team is the brand name. Employees, across culture, need to feel honored to be affiliated to your brand. There is a practical benefit of letting your guard down sometimes to build cross cultural relationships, especially when looking to make the most of an emerging market. The relationship acts like insurance against the work quality of the overseas team. No one wants to lose credibility and a good friendship!

Online and in-house training and discussions can pilot an initiative that helps everyone get on the same page. If you visited a Burger King outlet in another country, you would expect the same taste, employee assistance and work process as it is at home. Well, this won't be possible until and unless the management of Burger King follows the same guidelines worldwide. It however needs motivation to make things work and bring people under the same umbrella. A successful brand is one which has been able to reach a position where it easily leverages the benefits of cultural diversity, rather than struggling to mitigate the challenges.

Minggu, 09 Juli 2017

Why Your Staff Need Cross-Cultural Training

How do you know whether cross-cultural training would benefit your organization?

There are three main indicators that would suggest that cross-cultural training might provide a benefit to your organization.

* There are too many service complaints from people of immigrant/refugee backgrounds, particularly those from visible communities or those with accents that are unfamiliar to your staff.

* You observe that your staff are noticeably uncomfortable or unhappy interacting with clients from visible communities or with unfamiliar accents.

* Your staff are experiencing stress when interacting with people whose accents they find difficult or impossible to understand. This may be evident from sick leave statistics, or other organizational indicators.

Having noticed the presence of any or all of these indicators, you may want to proceed to a formal training needs analysis to identify with more precision the main sources or perceived sources of dysfunction, anxiety or stress. The results will indicate whether cross-cultural training, focused either on language barriers or on cultural difference, or both, would provide a solution.

How do you sell cross-cultural training to your staff?

It is usually easier to convince people of the value of training that focuses on overcoming language barriers than it is for training that explores cultural difference, because the average Anglo-Australian (just like the average person of most countries) is generally not aware of the unique characteristics of their own culture, and therefore assumes that other people's cultures are pretty much the same as theirs. So what is there to explore?

'Why on earth would you need so much time to become cross-culturally aware? A whole day's training? My goodness, that's ridiculous! What could possibly justify a whole day's training?'

The American pioneer of cross-cultural training, Richard Brislin (based at the East-West Centre in Honolulu and then the University of Hawaii) described this phenomenon in a week-long training program I attended as the 'assumption of universality' that all people have about their own cultures - until , that is, they have direct experience of cultural difference through migration or travel or living/working/studying in another culture.

Travel of the tourism kind does not necessarily bring home to people the extraordinary diversity of human culture (values, beliefs, behaviours) since tourism by its nature is skimming the surface. It is only when you spend extended periods living, working, studying in another culture, (even ones as apparently similar as the other Anglo cultures like New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the USA) that you encounter real cultural differences, and ironically, thereby begin to understand your own culture in more detail.

Immigration has brought the world to Queensland. The 2006 Census identified 226 birthplaces and 220 languages spoken at home. As never before, people living all over our vast state are encountering cultural difference and language barriers. Suddenly Anglo-Australians and immigrants alike who had never been aware of cultural difference are learning about the fascinating parameters of their own and other people's cultures. And are grappling with what it takes to create harmonious and cohesive workplaces and communities.

Of course, you will have some members of staff who will be eager for any training which increases understanding and skills, and others who will be suspicious that cross-cultural training will be seeking to undermine their own cultural identity. The best way to overcome this, in my experience, is to brief the staff on the content and style of the training before committing to a particular training program. This gives people a chance to decide for themselves whether spending a half day or day (or, heaven forbid, even longer!) is likely to be worthwhile.

In my experience, when you show people how practical and inherently interesting the content of good cross-cultural training is, people become eager to jump in.

Sabtu, 24 Juni 2017

Cross-Cultural Communications in Different Countries

With the globalization of the world economy, organizations, especially multinational companies are culturally diverse in their formation of the workplace and in handling all kinds of business activities. The culturally diversified workplace has brought great vitality to the business, as well as the challenge. The world thus becomes increasingly complex. One element of this complexity is the mixing of different cultures, languages and faiths. Thus, cross-cultural communication is playing a more and more important role in the business world.

It is vital for effective communication between colleagues and colleagues, managers and managers, managers and staff from different cultural backgrounds. It also ensures a group of people working harmoniously, and business conducting successfully. It is believed that the most successful company in the global area will be companies whose employees not only understand world economy and global competition, but also have the ability to communicate effectively with international partner. Business people today are facing many problems in their cross-cultural communication. Thus, how to achieve effective cross-cultural business communication is becoming increasingly important.

This thesis claimed that cultural conflicts arising from cultural differences have become a major obstacle to the success of cross-cultural business communication. In accordance with the methods and achievements explored by prior experts and scholars, this thesis analyzes the cultural differences based on the following four points: difference in verbal communication; difference in nonverbal communication; difference in social values; difference in social customs. Finally, by the study of cultural differences and business communication, some suggestions are made on how to promote effective cross-cultural business communication. They are establishing mutual respect and understanding, enhancing cross-cultural awareness, improving business communication competence.

Cross-cultural communication is an exciting field and everyone should accept the idea that each kind of culture can really contribute its share to the way we think about the world. It is expected that through this thesis everyone can realize the significance of cross-cultural business communication and show their respect to every culture and try to avoid cultural conflict. If we all have good knowledge of cross-cultural business communication, we can surely make a win-win game in international business stage. At last, everyone who has encountered cultural shock or paid great attention to this research field should contribute his or her share to broader understanding of it.

Senin, 05 Juni 2017

Cross Cultural Communication Consultants

Cross Cultural Communication Consultants
Cross cultural communication consultants have come a long way in the short period of time such specialists have been in demand. No longer are they expatriates with a few years overseas experience and the capability to impart their knowledge onto others. Cross cultural consultants now bring expertise that is founded upon a number of key factors.
Cross cultural consultants generally have a broad knowledge and experience of two or more different cultures. This knowledge is then employed to assist companies and individuals overcome challenges brought about through cross cultural differences in business. Areas in which assistance is needed may range from relocation briefings to company mergers or management techniques. The ability to diagnose and treat cross cultural problems is developed through their experience in a number of different fields.

Academic Knowledge
Cross cultural consultants will generally have an academic background either in specific courses such as 'Cross Cultural Communication and Trade' or 'Cross Cultural Psychology' or in related courses such as 'International Relations' or 'Business Studies'.  Their studies will equip them with the academic skills and knowledge of the field that will later be applied in the business context.
Business Know-how
It is critical for cross cultural consultants to have considerable business experience. If this is lacking then academic knowledge is not usually sufficient to understand the mechanics of business operations. In order to understand how things work and the different challenges facing managers and staff it is critical to have experienced it first hand.
Training Experience
Through courses and practical experience a cross cultural consultant will have knowledge of training techniques. This will include communication skills, presentation methods, the use of activities and utilization of different technology and media.
Living Abroad
Experience of living abroad, mixing with different cultures, speaking different languages and working in foreign offices is vital for any cross cultural consultant. Without having been exposed to a different culture how can one advise on working effectively with that culture? It is important that this emersion in the target culture has been to the extent that the cross cultural consultant can totally empathise with the culture and understand its dynamics.
Speaking a Foreign Language
Language carries with it cultural coding. All experts, commentators and linguists are unanimous that without knowledge of the language the culture can never be appreciated. A cross cultural consultant will therefore have this insider knowledge not only through living and working in a country but also by using and understanding the language.
The complexity and diversity of cross cultural challenges in the international business world is reflected in the broad knowledge and skills of cross cultural consultants. Drawing on expertise gained through a variety of interrelated fields, the cross cultural consultant is now truly a specialist of great importance.

Senin, 29 Mei 2017

Developing a Framework for Cross-Cultural Leadership

Developing Cross-Culturally

I remember traveling to Okinawa, Japan as a young U.S. Marine being afraid yet excited. When we landed in Okinawa from LAX we had to participate in a base orientation, where military officials would give us basic instructions for a week on the do's and don'ts of living overseas. You could see everyone's interest and amazement in this new knowledge.

One of the instructions that was given to us was the fact that you could not wave a person over with your fingers facing up (but fingers had to be facing down), because it means in the Japanese culture that you were calling them over like a dog (so our instructor explained). More advice was given to us when dealing with older folks. We were told that it was considered disrespectful to look into the eyes of an older person for too long. You could see the confusion with all the Americans that were at this cultural workshop, since most had been taught to look into the eyes of those speaking to you, if not; the person would find it disrespectful.

These mix-ups and lack of cross-cultural knowledge is what prevents many business leaders from having a competitive advantage. Yet we know the world has become global faster than anyone can learn how to keep up. The fact remains if you want to survive in this competitive market you need to develop as a cross-cultural leader. Yet research shows that many organizations still lack a diverse cultural presence. Why? I would propose that staying the same (business as usual) is easier than moving into a cross-cultural organization.

The following steps are a framework that leaders and executives can use to assist in their shift to becoming more cross-cultural within and out of their organizations. These are:

· Have a global mindset

· Be a strategic leader

· Build cross-cultural agility and intelligence

· Build a team of diversity

· Dare to be different

Having a Global Mindset

In order for leaders to break out of their comfort zones they will need to adopt a global mindset. This means that they will have to stop assuming that everyone sees the world as they see it, with the lenses they have framed. The truth is everyone has these lenses and has created a particular worldview, but leaders have to continuously align them against globalization and the current times.

What is a global mindset? Mansour Javidan defines this type of mindset as "the ability to perceive, analyze, and decode behaviors and situations in multiple cultural contexts and use that insight to build productive relationships with individuals and organizations across cultural boundaries." Plainly, it is a leader learning skills and customs that are not from his or her background and applying them in their leadership.

Be a Strategic Leader

Strategic leadership can be very broad. Richard L. Hughes and Katherine C. Beatty state that being strategic is "to think, act and influence in ways that promote the sustainable competitive advantage of the organization." Let's face it; if we don't become cross-cultural in our business we are liable to become obsolete; and no one wants that. Everyone wants their business and organization to be sustainable and competitive, and this is how you do it. Becoming a strategic leader is simple; assess where you are and where you want to be then make a great strategy to get there. The most difficult part executives and leaders have is making that leap from preparation to implementation.

Build Cross-Cultural Agility and Intelligence

Building cross-cultural agility and intelligence takes a lot of hard work, and at times getting assistance from coaches and consultants. This is one of the reasons why many leaders and executives do not make the transition from domestic to international. But, in this globalized world that we live in, it is an imperative! Cultural agility is the ability to be effective in many cultures and environments. This is a lifelong process and not a onetime event. Therefore, this type of leadership effectiveness comes to leaders through direct exposure of diverse circumstances and life experiences.

We can become culturally intelligent by desiring versatility in our thinking, living, and actions. Leaders have to put forth the effort of thinking, living, and acting outside the box. This does not come natural; therefore, we have to put ourselves in various situations that will help us. Examples could be joining different groups, going to various events of culture and diversity, and building relationships with people who are not like us. This will definitely help break down our cultural paradigms.

Build a Team of Diversity

Up to this point, many of you are thinking that you are cross-cultural and global. I propose you test yourself. Check your cell phone and social media websites; is everyone in your contacts from your immediate circle? Meaning, do they all belong to the same ethnic group, association, vocation, religion, age group, or demographics? If you answer yes than there is work to be done.

Putting together a cross-cultural leadership team will bring great success. Diversity produces creativity and innovation. Although this also takes some major effort, it is worth it. Put together some people who think differently and are from other places. Executives should not recruit from the same school or country, but expand their horizons. Your team should be one that comes in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Do you want to keep your competitive advantage? Then building this dream-team is a must!

Dare to be Different

Your business and organization can only keep its competitiveness through its distinctiveness. This is your opportunity to brand your business and go to another level. I heard Seth Godin say "what made the Hummer and the Cooper so successful in the automobile industry was their way of being completely different from each other." How about you? Are you, your team, or organization like everyone else? Are you trying to emulate what you see being done around you? Or are you trying to be different?

This is the season for growth and competitiveness, but that will only be for those who are different from the bunch. Let's face it; no one wants a cheap copy! So instead of imitating another leader or business, why don't we just be ourselves, and seek others who are different from us? We were all created to be a unique individual. No one can be "more unique, uniquer, or uniques." Those last two words do not exist. You have to be your unique self. Effective cross-cultural leadership requires a mix of skills, knowledge, and perspectives at all levels. This is what it means to dare to be different.


I have discussed what leaders can do to become more effective cross-culturally. The argument remains in order to have and keep a competitive advantage you will need to have a global mindset, be a strategic leader, build cross-cultural agility and intelligence, a team of diversity, and dare to be different. Diversity produces brilliance, creativity, and innovation. Learning and seeking life experiences different from the ones we are accustomed to will help us become well-rounded cross-cultural leaders.

The only person stopping us from achieving cross-cultural effectiveness is ourselves. Leaders will have to challenge themselves and keep accountable to others for continuous cultural growth. Finally, our businesses, organizations, and leadership will transcend across boarders if we are willing to partner with others unique perspectives in this globalized market. Wouldn't you want to have this competitive advantage? You can; but first you have to develop as a cross-cultural leader.