Insights from Will Scott, Global Company Culture Expert, & "The Culture Map" by Erin Meyer
The Culture Fix® always intended to be a global company. Our Founder, Will Scott, is of British & US Nationality but grew up in Zambia, the son of a veterinarian. Will’s international background gave him a passion for working cross-culturally, often travelling across the world to work with organizations abroad on Culture Fulfilment. In fact, by the time this blog is published he’ll have travelled to 10 countries in 5 weeks. The Culture Fix® has coaches on every continent, and projects underway in multiple countries including Cambodia, Tanzania, Britain, U.A.E & the U.S.
A question often posed to Will is: “How do you work on company cultures within other geographical cultures?” People are surprised to learn that the challenges facing businesses, all over the world, are remarkably similar despite their varying locations, country cultures, and customs. It almost always comes down to two factors: people & processes. The central question that often arises is deceptively simple: how do we engage our employees effectively?
This is precisely where The Culture Fix® has carved a niche for itself as a global company, as our unique framework, which provides a step-by-step approach, has proven to be successful internationally at answering that question. This is because our methodology allows businesses to tailor their engagement strategies to fit their unique circumstances and needs, or geographical culture.
That being said, it’s still important to consider how a company’s regional culture will impact it’s organizational culture. In this blog, we’ll give you the tools to understand cultural differences and how those differences can influence business decisions, as well as tools on how to best communicate cross-culturally. Understanding cultural differences is crucial for productive international business collaboration in today's globally connected society.
An excellent book for understanding international business is "The Culture Map" by Erin Meyer, which offers a thorough investigation of intercultural management and communication. This book provides people and organizations with invaluable insights to help bridge international collaboration by digging into the subtleties of other cultures. We'll go into some of "The Culture Map" book's most important ideas in this blog post and consider how they advance intercultural communication and cooperation.
However, we recommend you first read the blog we wrote about social psychologist Geert Hofstede & his groundbreaking studies on cultural variations in organizations, which greatly influenced the discipline of international management and is now widely employed in cross-cultural research. Through his research, he identified his own four dimensions of cultural values: Individualism vs. collectivism, masculinity-femininity, uncertainty avoidance, power distance. Hofstede’s research is the basis on which Cultural Dimensions Frameworks were built on.
Meyer provides the Cultural Dimensions Framework, a technique that divides civilizations into groups based on eight scales: persuasion, scheduling, leading, evaluating, and communication style. Each component identifies cultural differences in how various elements of business interactions are approached. For behavior and communication patterns to be modified in order to work effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds, it is essential to recognize these distinctions.
For instance, communication is frequently implicit and strongly dependent on non-verbal cues and shared context in high-context societies like Japan. On the other hand, straightforward and explicit communication is favoured in low-context societies like Germany. Understanding these variations helps reduce misconceptions and promote cross-cultural communication.
In many cultures, hierarchy has a big influence on how decisions are made, how people communicate, and how power structures are set up. People may be hesitant to question authority leaders in high-power distance cultures like China where hierarchy is firmly entrenched. In contrast, individuals feel more at ease questioning superiors and having open talks in low-power distance societies like Sweden.
People can better handle cultural differences by knowing how hierarchy affects communication and decision-making. Understanding these relationships promotes collaboration, reduces power disparities, and helps establish inclusive environments that value all viewpoints.
At The Culture Fix®, we often recommend leading a culture with low power distance & transparency. For example, we tell Business Leaders that the entire team should have the organization's CoreVals™ committed to heart, including the interns. The intern should be able to approach the CEO, if they’re acting out of alignment with the company’s values, and address their concerns.
In some cultures, this could be considered out-of-turn, but we believe that the most effective company cultures can have open conversations about leading with values. We urge teams to refrain from thinking about the power dynamics at play when addressing conflict, and neutralize a difficult conversation by bringing in the CoreChart™ as a reference point that each individual agreed on. We call this “Catch & Correct™.”
(Zaizi, a UK-Based Company, practicing Catch & Correct™ during Culture Fulfillment)
Successful business partnerships depend on trust, which varies between cultures. Until proven otherwise, trust is initially given to strangers in several cultures, including those of the United States and Australia. However, in nations like Germany and Japan, trust is created via enduring bonds and by both parties holding themselves accountable on reciprocal commitments.
This is why, regardless of culture, accountability is essential for all teams. Learn more about how to foster a culture of accountability & gain team-trust by implementing The Culture Fix® tools, like Notice & Nominate™. Don’t underestimate the power of positive reinforcement.
We’re sure you’ve heard of “Positive Reinforcement” - or rewarding a desirable behavior to increase the likelihood of that behavior being repeated in the future. But did you know that:
Notice & Nominate™ is one of our tools rooted in this psychological study. It’s simple. People want to be recognized for their contributions. Read more about how to Notice & Nominate™ here.
People can modify their relationship-building strategies by being aware of how other cultures see trust. Recognizing the value of trust in some cultures, professionals might spend time cultivating rapport and establishing personal ties, resulting in more successful partnerships.
Understanding how conflict management approaches vary between cultures is essential to successfully resolving conflicts. Direct conflict is valued in some cultures, such as that of the United States, and differences are discussed in public. However, maintaining harmony and averting direct conflict are valued more highly in societies like Japan.
Conflict can be managed while maintaining relationships if it is handled in a compassionate, culturally aware manner. To cross cultural divides and arrive at mutually agreeable solutions, strategies like active listening, empathy, and finding common ground can be used.
This is why The Culture Fix® works. Having your company's core values and processes documented provides you with the confidence to engage in challenging conversations. By having a reference point and a set standard in place, it promotes clarity and neutrality, enabling effective dialogue.
Global teams bring people from various cultural backgrounds together, which presents both benefits and challenges. Sociological theories, like Erin Meyer’s book, clarify team dynamics by highlighting the necessity of cultural knowledge and intelligence. Teams may access a variety of viewpoints by utilizing cultural diversity, allowing them to come up with creative ideas and make informed choices that take into account various cultural preferences.
For both individuals and businesses, it is essential to have tools to help navigate the global business world. In an increasingly interconnected world, professionals can strengthen relationships, communicate clearly, and improve collaboration by acknowledging, accepting & celebrating cultural differences. By incorporating these lessons, we can reduce cultural barriers, promote understanding, and do better business.
Additionally, we wanted to offer some communication tips, when working with a culture outside of your own.
In conclusion, navigating the global business landscape requires a deep understanding of cultural differences and effective communication strategies. The Culture Fix®, under the leadership of Will Scott, has established itself as a global company with a unique framework that eases the challenges of working across cultures. By recognizing the importance of people and processes, The Culture Fix® helps businesses engage their employees effectively and tailor their engagement strategies to fit their specific circumstances and geographical cultures.
Hierarchy, trust, conflict management, and cross-cultural team dynamics are crucial elements to consider in global business interactions. Understanding how hierarchy affects communication and decision-making, recognizing cultural variations in trust-building, employing compassionate conflict management techniques, and leveraging the diverse viewpoints of cross-cultural teams contribute to successful international partnerships.
By incorporating these insights and tools, professionals can navigate the global business landscape with greater understanding, reduce cultural barriers, and promote fruitful collaborations. As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, acknowledging, accepting, and celebrating cultural differences are essential for building strong relationships, clear communication, and improved collaboration in the global business arena.