Managing International Business Teams: Cultural Differences

internaltional businessIn today’s shrinking world of business, many companies have the opportunity to work with employees from across the globe. As many American companies discover, cultural differences in other countries can make standard American work practices difficult to maintain. Some of the practices of American companies are insulting to the culture and social world in many other countries.

As a manager in charge of an international team, it is important to recognize the differences between employee culture and manage the team in such a way that will not offend international employees.

Notable cultural differences

While cultural differences will vary from country to country, there are many cultural business trends that remain the same for certain areas of the world. In the East, among Asian cultures, individual effort is not considered a good idea. The focus there is more on team effort and accomplishments. Japan even has a saying that says, “the nail that sticks up gets pounded,” meaning that employees should not strive for individual success.

Hispanic cultures are more family oriented than American culture. Hispanic workers want companies that understand family requirements and would appreciate rewards based around the entire family, such as a family picnic hosted by the company, or a bring your children to work day.

European cultures tend to value money and finances above other forms of rewards. If an employee does an exceptional job from a European culture, he or she will likely expect financial reward for the effort. The United States has similar financial values as Europe, but most Americans also want to be valued with words, position, and titles as well as finances.

Managing an international team

Since employees from different cultures have wildly varying expectations for job performance, it is important to establish rules, boundaries, regulations, rewards, and expectations for international teams. There are four main ways that employers can help motivate international teams.

Get an interpreter: If you don’t know what will motivate an employee- find out. Hire a cultural expert to help explain what will motivate the employees and what they expect from their employer.

Set expectations: Clearly define what you expect from employees. For example, if you do not want employees to bring family members to work, then create guidelines that state the expectation. This will help manage employee expectations and performance.

Praise desired behavior: When you do see behavior that you want, take steps to praise that behavior. Employees may be making more effort than you realize. For example, speaking only in English is challenging for many employees, yet rarely noticed by American employers.

Take steps to motivate: Find out what motivates each employee and use that as incentive for improved job performance. Your interpreter can help uncover the best ways to motivate employees from various cultures.

Motivating a team of international employees can be challenging, but if you follow the right steps, it will become easier. A little cultural research and active praise will go a long way toward smoothing international employee relations.

Author Bio:

This a guest post by Lilly Sheperd, an occasional blogger, freelance writer. Nowadays writing on behalf Profitability, a comapny offers leadership development program. When not blogging she likes to travel and play netball with her friends.



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