Intercultural Management - The World Is Out There

Managers with responsibilities around the globe who can adapt their style will have the edge. Not only must the manager have great people skills, but they have to embrace the differences cultures bring to the workplace.

Nowadays, being 'international' is not an exotic adventure in business, it's the way that businesses have to operate, through sourcing, manufacturing and, of course, selling.

With offices in all the major cities, production based in outreaches normally associated with TV specials and growing, wealthy markets just clamoring for appealing products, there are few organizations who remain untouched by the globalization of trade.

Value-creating diversification management skills are, for many, the challenge of the new millennium and beyond.

Intercultural Management - The Bottom Line

In a very competitive marketplace, organizations are leveraging worldwide expertise to build their businesses and this has required a new level of intercultural management skills.

This term really clarifies the expectations of those employing these key people - being able to communicate, manage and realize the value of international cultures.

Just imagine the incredible importance of communication across the void of different cultures and the value it can unlock.

It's vital to recognize just how shared understanding is the most important piece of the puzzle in businesses that work across international boundaries.

The multicultural manager is critical in these situations as the 'translator' of policies, plans and strategic aims of the organization so that each individual country gets the right message.

Then there is also the talent required to extract the potential from a valuable team drawn possibly from all four corners of the globe too.

One way that a manager who works in diverse lands can make rapid progress is by living and working in the environment they are attempting to leverage. Carefully choosing appropriate personnel ready for such challenges is paramount.

And, of course, it's vital to be able to build relationships on all sides to make this work as a mutually beneficial exercise.

Where things work out well, bank those for the future. Where there are some shortfalls, careful scrutiny of what could be done better will also forge the way for future success.

Intercultural Management - Worldly Experience Counts

Apart from the more challenging differences across cultures, simply making sure that language issues are not a problem is the first and probably most obvious task.

Any intercultural manager has to use the experience he has and then supplement them with the following four skills:-

1. A focused awareness of the target location(s)

2. An ability to create value from new cultures

3. A flexible approach to different cultures

4. The capacity to pace change appropriately

For any manager who has had experience in different cultures, the awareness of this alone is worth it's weight in gold. It doesn't necessarily matter that the country is different - the awareness that differences occur and how to aproach them is valuable in it's own right.

Yet, of course, someone who knows a particular country intimately will have added value, simply because they have absorbed many of the differences just by having been there for a time.

Cross-cultural Managers Need To Be Very Flexible

Simply having lived in a number of different countries gives people the capacity to work almost anywhere. Their approach is to be flexible and ensure that they pace themselves and understand that things do not always go to plan.

When you have a flexible approach these problems can be handled with a certain amount of ease.

Yet 'diversity', which was once used to ensure equality for those with poor sight or hearing; from different ethnic backgrounds; with varied approaches to their personal lives, for example, is not yet the strongest lever to pull to any manager's benefit. The best intercultural managers recognize the possibilities and value the differences.

It's a great chance to find the best people; new items for sale and varied rules and regulations to make a better deal possible.

A good manager, well versed in the possibilities (rather then the problems!) of working in different parts of the world, will create profitable opportunities for their organization.

"A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains", is a saying well known in Holland.

By being patient, especially in these, some of the most challenging circumstances a manager can find themselves in, can lead to fabulous results.


© 2013 Martin Haworth is a business and management coach and trainer, working worldwide with SMEs & corporates and based in the UK. He has extensive experience in the delivery of one- and two-day training programs on a whole range of tactical management skills to be found at the workshops we do as well...

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