Monday, May 26, 2014

Navigating the Cultural Minefield

Navigating the Cultural Minefield Harvard Business Review 92, 5 (2014) 119-123

As we increasingly work with colleagues and clients who come from all parts of the world, it is vital to understand how cultural differences affect business. Yet too often we rely on clichés and stereotypes that lead us to false assumptions. To help managers negotiate the complexity of an international work team, INSEAD professor Erin Meyer has developed a tool called the Culture Map, which plots the positions of numerous nationalities along eight behavior scales: Communicating, Evaluating, Persuading, Leading, Deciding, Trusting, Disagreeing, and Scheduling. Meyer suggests that comparing the relative positions of different nationalities along these scales can help us decode how culture influences workplace dynamics. She adds four important rules: Don't underestimate the challenge. Management and work styles stem from lifelong habits that can be hard to change. Apply multiple perspectives. Be aware of your own expectations and behaviors, but also consider how members of other cultures perceive you and fellow teammates. Find the positive in other approaches. The differences that people of varied backgrounds bring to a work group can be great assets. Continually adjust your position. Be prepared to keep adapting your behavior to meld with the styles of your colleagues. INSET: Comparing Management Cultures: Israel vs. Russia.