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Better Leadership with Cross Cultural Awareness

Better Essays
Topics: Culture, The Culture
MGMT 301
May 20, 2014
How have managing people changed in the global economy?

A lot of factors such as organizational behaviors past and present have affected mangers and managing people in the workplace. Prior to the 1930’s, employees were largely viewed and treated simply as inputs into the production process. However, lately the majority of the population questions superiors and wants to rather learn the process in order to better themselves. If managers are to be effective, present and future managers need to develop a global mind-set and cross-cultural skills. To develop skilled managers who move comfortably from culture to culture takes time but it is needed for an efficient global economy movement.
Today’s companies are using Internet technology to connect with employees, customers, supplies and other stakeholders both within and outside the organization. The global economy has changed where meetings, conferences, interviews are all done via virtual presence. Managers are starting to connect with their employees through emails, texts, Skype and video conferencing etc. rather than face-to-face conversation, which is probably why social capital is relatively low. People in the modern economy mostly now use search engines to find answers rather than have a conversation and learn from a person.
One of the foremost responsibilities of a manager is making sure each employee is happy hence creating a friendly and a productive work environment. However, every employee has different personal values and ethics that the manager has to consider. The workforce may include different cultural backgrounds and what might seem customary to Americans might seem disrespectful to other ethnic backgrounds. This can lead to attitude problems within the workforce making the environment hostile ultimately affecting productivity and motivation.
In today’s global economy, research shows that ethnocentrism staffing is extremely bad for business. It contributes to personal problems at work that include recruiting difficulties, high turnover rates, and lawsuits over personnel policies. Hence when lawsuits are controversial in the media, it attracts negative interpretation of the company affecting brand image and loyalty. Expatriate managers also have difficulties adjusting to their international assignments when their subordinates are ethnocentric. Countries such as Japan and the U.S are very high in ethnocentricity. Research also shows that ethnocentrism affects customers’ purchasing decisions. Consumers prefer domestically produced goods to imported alternatives even when they are cheaper and could possibly be of better quality (Victor). Ironically, this is what businesses prefer. They strive for new customers and are very appreciate of brand loyal customers who always keep coming back.
Managers are also conducting employee survey to learn more about employee preferences in terms of work styles; the ways supervisors and managers provide feedback and what working schedules and conditions employees prefer. Asking questions such as “do you favor face-to-face meetings or would you prefer web-based meetings to enable flexibility?” or “what is your idea of an ideal work schedule?” is helpful to understand employee work styles and preferences. Employee opinion surveys are typically confidential and anonymous; however, you can analyze employee responses to determine what motivates–and demotivates–most employees.
According to Hofstede 's model, in a high power distance country such as Malaysia, you would probably send reports only to top management and have closed-door meetings. In Japan, you might have greater success if you appointed a male employee to lead the team and had a strong male contingent on the team very different to the American society today where a lot of females are CEO’s (Minkov). According to Hofstede 's analysis, people in the United States and United Kingdom have low LTO scores. This suggests that you can pretty much expect anything in this culture in terms of creative expression and novel ideas. This illustration addresses that knowing cultural tendencies of foreign business partners can give you a strategic competitive advantage. For example, when managers need to discipline their staff, employees in a collectivist culture are likely to feel they have let down their group. And in cultures with high power distance, employees are likely to accept discipline from a higher status.
Managing people is difficult enough, when people in the team have different cultural backgrounds or the managers’ background differs from the team that is when serious misunderstanding can arise. When recruiting an employee, what defines a good candidate or not can vary in different societies. In individualistic societies, good candidates are people who are outspoken and express strong opinions. In collectivist societies, good candidate are people who are relatively modest and who demonstrate they are “well connected” etc. To position yourself as an employer in the US (high masculinity) is done very differently than in the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries (low masculinity). Managers need to understand the impact of culture; both on the recruiters and on the candidates you are considering in order to successfully manage employees.
Managing people have changed in the workforce in many ways. They are starting to understand the dimensions of cultural differences and acknowledge differences between different cultures such as perception of time, distance, communication patters, hierarchy etc. Managers in the 21’st century are creating a work environment that encourages relationship-building, open discussion of personal or cultural preferences, and an understanding the preferences of others. This can be done in many ways; mentoring/coaching/buddying programs, open dialogue sessions, special events (i.e. pot lucks, celebration of different religious holidays, lunch and learns, diversity days, etc.)
One of the strengths of today’s increasingly diverse global workforce is the fact that diversity brings innovation, fresh perspective, and creative problem solving to the workplace. Mangers are required to become a better Leader through cross-cultural awareness. In order to effectively lead others, culture sensitive managers are being trained intercultural programs that provide resources and practice plan to examine paradigms regarding intercultural issues such as gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, generational differences, and other cultural factors such as socio-economic background and international experiences ("Become a Better Leader through Cross Cultural Awareness").
Anyone with a high level of cultural sensitivity will adapt more easily and effectively to the values, attitudes and communication styles of another culture. With a high level of cultural sensitivity, international managers or members of international teams are able to better understand and harness the potential of their multicultural team. Cultural sensitivity can help anyone working across cultures recognize what motivates people in that culture and know how to reward performance while avoiding cultural faux pas and incidents that could put the cohesion and success of the team at risk.
Cultural sensitivity can also be useful for companies when it comes to selling to or making strategic decisions with organizations or individuals from a different culture. Many western brands have shown a terrible lack of cultural sensitivity when they tried to do business across cultures. When Pepsi used light blue for its product packaging in South East Asia, for instance, they did not realize that light blue was actually the color of mourning in that specific culture so sales decreased and Pepsi lost money changing their marketing campaign (Wooten). Providing cultural awareness training to the Pepsi team responsible for this new branding could have helped avoid a costly and unnecessary situation.
Developing cultural sensitivity can take time but it can be increased through experience working across cultures. Employees working across cultures can benefit immensely from cultural sensitivity training courses which will give them a solid cross cultural framework and skills to help them to avoid cultural pitfalls and misunderstandings. As businesses are becoming more global, the chances are good that if you wish to advance in a multinational firm, you will need to work abroad in a leadership position for an extended period of time. There’s a much greater need for people who can not only work where they are comfortable, but also work in unfamiliar situations, surroundings and geographies, and with people who don’t speak their native language. And they need to possess the humility to accept differences as well as the wisdom to be able to do business in different cultures.

References
"Become a Better Leader through Cross Cultural Awareness.” N.p. Web. 30 May 2014.

References: "Become a Better Leader through Cross Cultural Awareness.” N.p. Web. 30 May 2014.

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