For HR managers in the knowledge driven technology sector, managing a young workforce and training them on cross culture issues, has emerged as a strategic differentiator. Increasingly, for Indian companies, which are serving a diverse set of enterprises, spread across different geographies, grooming their staff on some simple and, yet, tricky culture issues, is getting increasingly institutionalised or becoming an expert outsourced option. Dr Zareen Karani Araoz, President, Managing Across Cultures, an expert agency offering services in cross culture issues, said, "For an employee who repeatedly takes a conference call from US at 3 a.m. regularly is a major problem area, but he finds it difficult to articulate this to his client or his counterpart in the US, due to fear. In an institutionalised environment, it is easy to learn to be frank, where saying "No" is often appreciated rather than saying "Yes' and failing to deliver on the promise." Speaking at an interactive meeting hosted by the Nasscom here today, Dr Araoz said, "In India, there is this tendency to adopt, which is good. But little do they realise that it is also good to say no in many cases and do what is expected of you rather than promise something that is impossible. When the work is half done, it is seen as a failure." Often being frank and honest helps rather than promising and not delivering. Typically, in the US, if a person were to be handed out 10 tasks, he would be frank enough and admit that he will be able to handle five and deliver them all. But in India, there is this tendency to work hard and take all the 10 tasks and end up working hard and completing eight of them. Yet such as person is seen as a failure. It is in such simple issues, training helps. "Our experience with most of the outsourcing jobs to India shows that we excel in accuracy. This is the case with most of the auditing jobs too. But if we don't take culture issues seriously, this could jeopardise otherwise an excellent work. This calls for trained people to guide," she explained. The challenge is to facilitate employees better manage expectations and cut down on mutual disconnect.
THE CROSS-CULTURAL ISSUES IN HRD
Cultures are like icebergs; some features are
apparent to anyone not in a fog, while others are deeply hidden. Above-the-surface features include overt behaviors: how people -
relate to one another
conduct themselves during public ceremonies such as weddings or funerals. Also included are such things as social distance.
Other aspects are so far below the surface that they are hard to recognize. We may see evidence of these aspects, but we usually can't pinpoint them precisely and usually don't have a clue where they came from. They are hard to define even for our own culture because we take them in with our mother's language. This might include such things as:
how we encode and retrieve information
What is justice?
Beauty or ugliness?
What meaning is attached to "teaching" stories?
What does being well educated mean?
What constitutes status?
OTHER ISSUES INCLUDE
-USE OF LANGUAGE
-INAPPROPRIATE DELIVERY MEDIUM
Miscommunication across cultural lines is usually the most important cause of cross-cultural problems in multinational cos.. Miscommunication can have several sources, including: • differences in body language or gestures. The same gesture can have different meanings in different parts of the world. For example, Bulgarians shake their heads up and down to mean no. In addition, the way people count on their fingers is not universal: The Chinese count from one to ten on one hand, and eight is displayed by extending the thumb and the finger next to it. The same gesture is interpreted as meaning two in France and as pointing a...