When working with international teams there are going to be multiple levels of issues and concerns to navigate consciously and subconsciously. When discussing this topic (and it is one of my favorites) I love to reference my favorite text on the subject, Understanding Cross Cultural Management by By Browaeys and Price. (Everything below is based on their work).
According to Michael Browne, “[g]lobalization means that modern teams and companies are increasingly staffed by qualified people from around the world. In order to create a harmonic working environment while maximizing team efficiency, it is necessary to understand how different cultures approach things such as meeting deadlines, direct or indirect communication or project mentality”.
Individuals who master the ability to operate and navigate international teams with success and results are people high in demand. You can too by studying the following aspects of cross-cultural diversity.
We live in a global environment and as such, encounter many different types of people and cultures on a regular basis. As Americans we’re use to our way of life, norms, behaviors, and assumptions that can rub other cultures the wrong way.
As I continue to study, read, and assimilate the vast knowledge of “businessy things” available I inevitably create links and make lists as to what skills and traits are needed for individuals to flourish as team members and to function at their highest level. As I tend to focus on the more serious topics of management, leadership and winning, I also try to make it entertaining and short to keep your attention.
On that note, this post is an amalgamation of topics which when combined create a powerful understanding of how to be indispensable to international teams. This 20-something guide was inspired by many of my fellow students who are or have just graduated. Going into the world of international business isn’t going to be difficult for some of the international students, but for the others who stumble upon great opportunities, this guide is for them and for you.
Consider this your 20-something, 101 guide to working in or with international teams.
The series includes the following:
- Creative Problem Solving
- Cross-Cultural Management
- Decision Making
Cultural Values stem from research on the typical values and norms of different cultures. Learning about these different cultural values will help you understand whether an individual’s behavior reflects his/her cultural background or if it is more likely an expression of the individual’s personality. This helps you avoid stereotyping and prevents the dangerous assumption that everyone from a culture is the same.
These cultural values are relevant to different national cultures (e.g. Germany vs. Japan). But they also apply to a variety of other cultural contexts such as different ethnic groups, regions within the same country, or different organizations, political parties or generations.
Individualism – Collectivism
Individualism: Emphasis on individual goals and individual rights
Collectivism: Emphasis on group goals and personal relationships
Low Power Distance: Emphasis on equality; shared decision-making
High Power Distance: Emphasis on differences in status; superiors make decisions