Cross-culture communication and management at the workplace
When working in international environment conventional managerial skills are not enough! Intercultural competencies are the clue!
Poland is becoming more and more attractive place to work for international managers. The growing numbers of expatriates on managerial positions are working in Poland, as the country’s economy offers a range of opportunities to grow the business and to enhance their managerial career.
Working in another country is challenging for managers, as they have to cope with different national culture and work in unfamiliar organizational culture of the company. When the manager’s culture greatly varies from the host’s country one, they can experience the cultural shock and find it difficult to adjust to given organizational culture.
Be prepared to live and work in another country!
When managing people in another country you should be prepared for it.
Competencies of managing people of different cultures are called intercultural competencies.
You have such competencies when you have the knowledge of:
v Cultural profile of the country you are working in.
People from different countries have different cultural profiles. This is expressed in different communication styles, different values and their meaning. People vary with their approaches to time, space and solving problems. They have different habits, taboos and symbols. When communicating with people from another culture you should be aware of these differences.
This is the first step on the way to acquire intercultural competencies.
v Your cultural profile
A person who was born and brought up in a certain country represents the core values and beliefs that are typical for the culture of the country. You too have your core values and beliefs which you transmit and express (mostly unconsciously) in your behavior, way of thinking, concept of time and space, your communication and negotiation style, approach to solving problems, the context of communication you are using (high or low), and in many other aspects.
Knowing yourself (your cultural profile) is the second step on the way to acquire intercultural competencies.
v The organizational culture of the company you are working in
As a manager you should have the ability to recognize the organizational culture of the company – its leadership style, managerial tools used when motivating people, way of making decisions, solving problems, etc. When expatriate managers are joining the company, they need to adapt to existing organizational culture, so it is crucial to have the ability to recognize what kind of organizational culture the company represents. Expatriates working in a country of different culture need to consider their own culture, culture of the host’s country and organizational culture of the company that they are working in. An example could be the Indian manager working in Poland, in Korean company with Korean organizational culture.
In this case the Indian manager should have the knowledge about three cultural profiles (Indian, Polish, Korean), Korean organizational culture – to meet the requirements of the senior management, and about Polish organizational culture – to understand Polish peers and employees.
How can you acquire intercultural management competencies?
My Model of cross-culture management
- Learn about cultural orientations – behaviour and communication patterns.
- Identify your cultural profile – cultural orientations in behaviour patterns and other aspects.
- Identify the cultural profile of the host’s country and learn more about it.
- Find the similarities and learn to recognise the differences between both profiles.
- Learn to accept and respect the differences.
- Learn how to build relationships based on similarities.
- Learn how to cope with differences in culture profiles.
- Recognise the organisational culture of the company you are working in and its required management style.
- Assess your managerial style. Spot the differences between your managerial style and the one preferred by the organisation.
- Set up your strategy for attaining proficiency in intercultural competencies.
- Adopt the behaviour that matches the organisational culture of the company you are working in.
- Observe people’s reactions to your behaviour and adjust your pattern of communication when the situation requires it.
- Learn from experience and difficult situations.
- Enjoy your growing proficiency in intercultural competencies.
What are the conclusions?
A competent manager working in international environment should possess additional, intercultural competencies. Having them is beneficial both for the managers (they are successful) and for the people they are managing and working with. Employees who feel that the manager respects and takes care of them work better and are more efficient. Knowing about the cultural orientations of employees and respecting them when managing people is the evidence of high intercultural intelligence.