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Effectively Working With Cultural Differences

TheAllINeed.com/Suzanne Schiller/

If there is any stylistic clash in the global or local management function then productivity will suffer. Working effectively across borders and cultures requires a different approach and broad-ranging skills.

Building a successful relationship is key to success in a corporate environment. A positive relationship with other cultures requires you to interpret body language, respect culture and customs and understand your audience. Beyond understanding the norms of other cultures, you also need the communication skills and appropriate business strategies that are applicable to a given country or region. To create a healthy business relationship in a corporate environment, you must thus be properly prepared:

-. Get a feel for the attitudes, atmosphere and approach of the business community.

. Know about your target market's culture, collective personality and way of doing things.

. Observe the way in which people act, dress and treat each other.

. Learn to read a situation in the local business environment.

. Give yourself sufficient time to adjust to the environment.

These are a few of the key factors in preparing to engage in an interactive business relationship with other cultures.

Management structures range from the highly hierarchical through to complete anarchy! Culture is a key determinant of the structures you are most likely to encounter. As an example, in Danish workplaces, senior management usually listens to staff and readily accepts their advice since staff are regarded as specialists in their own fields. It is common to find senior management standing in the queue along with the staff in the canteen. This kind of management culture is not common in Asian countries. There managers always maintain a degree of distance which is regarded as representative of dignity and they may feel insulted when advice is offered by subordinates. In most modern Western working environments, employees expect their line managers to be friendly and to treat them equally regardless of education, position and status.

Business culture depends upon the country's wider cultural background. In Taiwanese business culture, establishing a cordial business relationship is a higher priority than pure profit. In France it is very common to kiss a business associate - something that would never happen in Asian countries. Business culture also includes attitudes and approaches to dining, drinking, socialising, dress code and much more. When you are unaware of a country's culture, you run the risk of cultural shock. It is therefore important that you study the country's culture and act accordingly.

Any strategy, however innovative, must be designed in accordance with local needs and expectations. A strategy that is successful in one country cannot be effective in another unless it meets the needs of its target audience therein. The products of even established players such as Procter and Gamble that are highly successful in the USA, would not always be guaranteed the same degree of market acceptance in India, particularly if the business attempted to market or deliver the same products or services without accommodating the needs of the local marketplace.

Cultural training programmes are designed to assist your organisation in the context of unfamiliar cultures. They can assist staff in understanding the values, traditions, behaviours and collective experiences of a given culture and prepare them to facing the wider potential challenges of a multi cultural working environment.

Cultural issues have a significant impact on global businesses and their management teams. The success of a company both globally and locally depends upon the co-operation of staff, business partners and clients alike in understanding each other professionally and personally. Cultural training programs provide up to date information on the target country and a broad range of cultural issues and are thus of potential relevance to senior management, staff and their families including those relocating overseas.

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