Cross-cultural Interactions

6 June 2017

Communication differs in various cultures. A multinational or a global company employs a great number of people with different cultural traits. Some may possess traits that are good for business when sent to countries away from home and some may not take up this responsibility well. People with different values respond in various ways to leadership especially from leaders from a different background or culture. Cultural diversity is very wide and this would cause to some extent difficulties for a foreigner in a strange land.

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This is mainly because the foreigner has ittle or no knowledge of the land’s culture. For instance being a German and working in a subsidiary of the German mother company in China, I have come to realize the big difference that there is in various cultures. The team that I work with is a cross- cultural team. National culture does not fit with the organizational culture from my experience in this cross-cultural team. National culture is the values that an individual learns early in life and continues to grow or change slowly with generations. It is highly held in individuals hence difficult to influence .

Organizational culture on the other hand means the wide guidelines that are created by an organization and is rooted on the Job tasks and practices.. It is a programmed way of thinking and reacting. It is used to differentiate a certain category of people from the other. Due to the deeply held national culture by people, it is difficult to change the organizational culture especially in a cross-cultural team. This is because for some, the organizational culture goes against the national culture therefore the practices of the organization will be taken for granted and undermined e. . a eadership trait which falls under an organizational culture can be easily shunned by a particular employee from a different culture if the trait is against his/her national trait. I encounter various tensions at my workplace. A group of a certain culture will follow or conform to a certain set of values and beliefs, and the other would differ from them. A large group with a set of similar values would fall in the same culture. The minority and the majority therefore have conflict when it comes to certain situations within the team.

For instance, Germans are always on schedule and very unctual. This is their national culture. In the cross-cultural team there are people who have different perception when it comes to keeping time. When it comes to attending meetings for instance, there will be a set of people who will be punctual and those who will be late. This is a cause for tension within the cross-cultural team. Tension is a known cause for a decrease in a company’s productivity. Action should therefore be taken to resolve tension or conflict in these teams.

Conflict is a challenge that is always faced by a team that is cross-cultural because it arises from time to time. The success and failure of a team depends on its response in time of conflict. To initiate organizational changes, I have done research and have come up with a plan of giving lessons to my team members. These lessons don’t give a direct solution to the conflicts but guidance on how to prevent, respond to and manage tension. The tips in my lesson plan include: Knowledge ot one selt and culture- when one becomes aware ot his culture, i. e. here he/she comes from and who he/she really is, it becomes easier to understand other people’s background hence become open to different ideas. This can be chieved by establishing friendship within the team Being inquisitive- ask other members with a different background from yours about your new environment and how best things are run and more importantly know how to deal with situations to avoid conflict Listen to people from a different culture effectively to have a better understanding of one another’s ways. This should only be done in situations where it doesn’t cause discomfort.

Learn the expectations of others by having conversations about conflicts and the way forward when it arises. Management culture that suits every single person from a different culture should be ut in place. Management culture is one of the most critical leadership tools. In my opinion, a type of management that respects the differences and similarities of all employees should be adopted. Excellent organizational culture is the main goal of a company or an organization in regards toa cross-cultural team. To achieve this goal, management culture must be put in place .

First of all, understanding the uniqueness and the differences of each individual is very important. This is largely referred to as work place diversity. Diversity entails religious beliefs, gender, race, age, political beliefs, sexual orientation and ethnicity. To deal effectively with this, the HR should check on issues such as communication, coping with differences and change. Management culture is important because it creates a comfortable and positive working environment hence higher productivity from the employees.

The following management strategies should be adopted: Acquiring knowledge about different cultures and their ways of conducting business The leaders should nurture the communication, creative and cultural skills of various employees and utilize these skills to improve the policies, customer service and their products Being open minded. This involves leaders and their employees coming out of their comfort zone and accepting ways that they are not familiar with in terms of management.

People from different backgrounds can factor in better and fresh ideas which could result in better services and performance Formulation of programs that will recognize the diversity of each individual. This will result in more interest in their roles Posting employees to areas where they can advance culturally Language training Taking care of employees’ complaints and issues Testing the organization’s practices to make sure that no discrimination against any ulture is practiced. At times, conflict becomes inevitable between members in the subsidiary.

It always happens when there are people with a variety of different expectations. In a situation like this, I would resolve to a different way of handling conflict. The first step would be to make the employees aware of the difference in culture among them. Apart from making them aware, I would formulate a program where all employees will be taught about the existence ot diversity and to learn ways ot respecting these different values and practices. Encouraging the team to take up tasks overseas henever an opportunity arises is another positive way to handle inevitable conflicts.

This will improve the interaction of employees with different backgrounds and cultures. The more knowledgeable they get about a variety of cultures, the more understanding of each other they also get. To avoid recurring tensions, another important strategy to follow through is to offer counselling to employees and their families that are moving to a new country. This can be done before and after the international assignment . When positive relationships are built between diverse individuals, a deeper understanding of each other is formed.

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