Managing Across Cultures

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Introduction

Managing across cultures basically involves recognizing and embracing similarities as well as differences among nations and cultures. In this way, an organization is able to integrate these diverse cultures to reach out to diverse markets with an upper hand. Thereafter, an organization is in a better position of engaging in strategic issues with an open and inquisitive approach. It also involves scrutinizing why individuals all over the world conduct themselves as they do, thus providing actionable tactics to succeed in the current global business environment.

Essential Concepts for Cross-Cultural Effectiveness in Management

Managing across cultures is a very challenging issue to any organization. This is because if the cultural subtleties are not properly managed, an organization is likely to be adversely affected (Beer, 2011). With careful planning and established methods, an organization can increase its chances of success through sound communication, mutual cooperation and trust. One of the essentials concepts for cross-cultural effectiveness in management is awareness (Beer, 2012).

In this regard, leaders who are already considering bringing in skills from diverse parts of the globe ought to be fully aware of the global talent pool. This is vital due to the fact that a number of corporations in the developed world are still lagging behind in appreciating the talent that is available in other parts of the world. Most of these businesses do not know the kind of opportunities they are leaving out there (Beer, 2012).

Another essential concept is development. In this regard, the moment the concept of awareness has been cultivated, it is vital to set up a program that builds the executive bench. When a company expands its horizons, it does not mean that it should neglect the talent it already has. Instead, it should initiate executive advancement programs that are geared towards developing the capacity for local opportunities and looking abroad for brilliant individuals, who are ready to cross the borders for advancement in development.

It is also vital to ensure that the executive selection and integration process should be done in such a way that global management competencies are put into consideration (Beer, 2012). This comprises of inquisitiveness, ambiguity, compliance, flexibility, as well as competency. This is vital since home and host country expectations are likely to vary considerably, thus requiring considerable alignment every now and again (Beer, 2012).

Common Cross-cultural Challenges and the Strategies used to address them

People, who come from different cultural backgrounds, will always come across challenges of working together. As a result, there are times when cultural values are likely to conflict. This is because as human beings, people sometimes misunderstand each other, and end up reacting in ways, which are likely to hamper an otherwise promising partnership (Steers, Sanchez-Runde & Nardon, 2010).

Different Communication Styles

One of the cross-cultural challenges arises from different communication styles. This is because the way people communicate varies widely depending on their cultural backgrounds. This is common especially on the aspect of language usage. In most cases, a number of expressions and sayings are utilized in diverse ways across cultures (Susan & Joyce, 2006).

Additionally, the degree of importance given to non-verbal communication may also vary. This arises from the fact that non-verbal communication not only includes gestures, but also facial expressions. Different norms with regard to the apposite degree of assertiveness in communication also complicate the cultural misunderstandings.

For instance, a rise in voices is an indication of a fight, especially among white Americans. On the other hand, this is considered an exciting conversation among African, Italian and African Americans. This particular challenge is usually solved by listening actively and emphatically. Additionally, it is vital to avoid making assumptions that breakdowns in communications can take place because of people being on the wrong track (Steers et al., 2010).  

Different Approaches to Completion of Tasks

Another cross-cultural challenge arises from the differences in the completion of tasks. In most cases, there are different ways in which people move towards the completion of tasks. This may be due to disparities in the access to resources, different judgments of rewards associated with the task completion, as well as different notions of time. Additionally, people from different cultural backgrounds differ when it comes to working together to effectively complete a task (Moran, Harris & Moran, 2010).

For instance, Hispanic and Asian people prefer to develop relations at the commencement of a common venture with more prominence being put on the completion of the task towards the end of the shared task. On the other hand, European-Americans prefer focusing on the task at hand, and later let relationships develop as time goes by. What this means is that individuals from different cultural backgrounds value relationships, only that they pursue these relationships differently (Susan & Joyce, 2006). Solving this challenge involves learning from generalizations about other cultures, and avoiding using these generalizations or stereotypes.

Analysis of a Complex Multicultural Workplace Situation

Company Overview

Eldan International is a company under which thousands of committed professionals in independent firms all over the world work in partnership to offer consulting, audit, risk management, financial advisory as well as tax services to selected clients. Each member of the company is tasked with providing services in a particular geographic area. This therefore results in a firm being subject to laws as well as professional regulations of the particular country or countries in which it operates.

Each member firm under Eldan International is separate and has different official entities, which cannot compel each other. In this way, each member firm is liable only for its own steps or omissions, with each member firm being structured differently in accordance with national laws, regulations, customary practice, as well as other factors. An individual member firm may also secure the provision of proficient services in its territory through affiliates, subsidiaries and other entities.

The Company’s Approach to Multicultural Conflict

Awareness and Training

One of the ways in which Eldan International approaches multicultural conflicts is through awareness and training. Training is provided to employees about the number of cultural factors that impact the workplace. Team members are encouraged recognize that the day to day assumptions and expectations are founded on the basis of an individual’s own cultural reference, which are likely to result in conflict when dealing with a colleague, who does not share similar cultural parameters.

While some cultures approach conflict resolution with a win/lose mentality, others are willing to assist and are focused on compromise. At Eldan International, employees are made to realize that differences are as a result of cultural expectations, and not personal slights or vendettas, thus making conflicts easier to resolve.

Intervention

Another approach that the company uses is intervention. In this way, employees are allowed to handle conflicts by themselves to the extent that is possible. This is because the company realized that the best outcome for continued workplace harmony is developing a shared understanding of each other’s cultural expectations as arriving at jointly agreeable resolutions of differences of opinion.

Discipline

In case a conflict is unprofessional, inapt, or unsettled, the company disciplines the employees. In this regard, a zero tolerance policy for discrimination is put in place to ensure that multicultural workplace is cultivated (Moran et al., 2010). The company`s practices and procedures are also reviewed to make sure a diverse multicultural approach is cultivated. In most cases, in case an employee cannot respect individual differences or continually creates disruptive conflicts within the firm, such an employee is disciplined, transferred or dismissed (Moran et al., 2010).

Company Mission and Diversity Statements

The mission of Eldan International is to assist clients and the general public to excel. This is made possible by identifying and exploring emerging opportunities related to big shifts. The company is also focused on long-term trends and opportunities. The firm is also focused on looking at implications for near-term action as well as the day-to-day environment of executives.

Diversity at all levels is vital to Eldan International’s mission of assisting clients and the general public to excel. The importance of diversity extends beyond the company’s contribution to the fiscal system of the society. This is mainly because the case embracing diversity can be made across all realms of human behavior. In many ways, the company recognizes that a diverse group of problem solvers easily outperform individual experts at solving problems. Eldan International has found out that leveraging diversity with effective management improves the company’s performance and boosts innovation. In its diversity statement, the company seeks to safeguard the safety, self-esteem, as well as the well being of all its members wherever they are stationed.

Multicultural Workplace Conflict

At Eldan International, it was noted that individuals from different cultural background had different ways of moving towards the completion of particular tasks. This may have been as a result of diverse access to resources or different opinions towards the achievement of everyday responsibilities. In this case in point, it was noted that individuals from Hispanic and Asian cultures tended to attach more value to the development of relationships at the commencement of a shared project. Additionally, they also tend to lay more prominence on the finishing point of a task towards the end of a project. On the other hand, their European-American counterparts were seen to be focusing right away on the assignment at hand, and let relations build up as work on the project continued.

Strategies used by the Company to Manage the Conflict

In order to manage conflicts, the company organized a seminar to help the individuals to understand the cultural differences as well as individuals from diverse cultural environments. This is due to the fact that appreciating patterns of cultural difference were seen as those that can assist in processing what it means to be different in ways, which are respectful of others, not detrimental or faultfinding (Moran et al., 2010).

By openly learning about individuals from other cultures, people become less lonely. In this way, prejudice and stereotypes do not come in to separate individuals from whole groups of people who could as well be partners and friends in working towards the successful completion of responsibilities (Moran et al., 2010). Additionally, the people involved were educated on the importance of talking to people from different cultures, which is vital in energizing individuals to take on the challenges of improving relations in the company and society at large.

Additional Suggestions of Managing Cross-Cultural Conflicts

One of the most important solutions that the company can use in managing cross-cultural conflicts is by involving cross-cultural training of employees about other cultures. The employees also need to be sensitized on how discrimination and biasness affect people (Ting-Toomey, 1994). This kind of training is also vital in assisting employees to live and work comfortably with their colleagues that come from other cultures. In many ways, practical, real-life cross-cultural training of the employees is vital in assisting them to manage situations that arise as a result of cultural differences.

Additionally, the company can go a long way if it can succeed in acknowledging that similarities and differences are of equal importance. This encourages people to live and work together even as they seek to arrive at a final goal. The organization also needs to reshape the working culture to ensure that there is proper integration of a broad range of viewpoints that leads to a redefinition of how assignments are supposed to be executed and how various markets are advanced and capitalized on (Ting-Toomey, 1994). The organization also needs to come up with constituent capitalized workforce by making sure that mutual trust and respect is established among employees, customers, as well as stakeholders.

The Importance of Effective Multicultural Management to the Effectiveness and Productivity of an International Organization

The increase in globalization has largely resulted in multiculturalism, due to the presence of many cultural groups in particular regions (Law, 2007). In most cases, in multicultural localities, it is common to find considerable diversity in many places of work. Due to the diversity of cultures in these places, it is vital for the managers to pay close attention to needs of employees and colleagues who come from backgrounds that are different from their own.

Teamwork

Teamwork is a vital element in any office environment. This is because in case members of an organization are working together as a team, or collaborating in a number of tasks, this will affect the eventual performance of the organization. It is therefore vital for an organization to get members from all backgrounds to work together as a team. This will go a long way in ensuring that each team member feels appreciated and acknowledged, with every member taking the time to be familiar with the culture of every member. This can be in the form of celebrating a member’s cultural holiday or special months, like the Black History Month.

Legal Concerns

It is worth noting that in some cases, an organization can end up incurring several costs just because of not being culturally sensitive. For instance, quite a while ago, a company called Abercrombie and Fitch was obliged to pay millions of dollars, being subject to a number of diversity goals after it was discovered that the company had ignored granting minority groups an equal access to employment (Law, 2007).

Therefore, it is vital to ensure that people from different cultural backgrounds are given opportunities on the basis of their credentials and not the color of their skin or their ethnic background. Otherwise, without this kind of management, an organization is bound to face serious financial burdens, which can be easily avoided.

Communication

It is common to find individuals from different cultural backgrounds communicating differently. This does not mean that the organization ought to be lenient when it comes to language proficiency as it is required in an office setting (Law, 2007). Instead, an international organization should empathize with people, who have different ways of expressing themselves. Such an organization also needs to be proactive, by engaging in diplomatic ways of discussing issues before they arise.

Conclusion

The diversity of the workplace has become a reality in the current business environment. This is because more and more firms are moving from domestic and multidomestic strategies to international realms. It is therefore imperative for companies to effectively manage cultural differences in order to have a competitive edge over the rest. As a result, there is an urgent need for companies to reshape their working cultures in order to integrate a broad range of viewpoints, for an effective coexistence of diverse cultures. 

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