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  Inter-Cultural Fast Tracking

The voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust


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Rapid changes in the way international business is conducted create new challenges for today’s business leaders. Managing international teams requires the bringing together of unfamiliar cultures and motivating them to work effectively together. Coaching identifies possible areas of misunderstanding and explains local management styles.

The Issue

For an executive arriving in a different country, it is vital to learn the “local ways.” There are dangers of discussing this solely with other expatriates, as often they will receive little more than a well developed prejudice for the locals. Management style can be very different and, although internationally experienced executives move from country to country, they may find that seemingly similar cultures are so different in reality, alienation can occur and affect productivity.

With the power of web-based project management tools, never before have managers faced the amazing opportunity of co-ordinating such a diverse mix of cultures. The negative impact of this technology can be to “de-humanise” international management, eroding cultural sensitivity. To get the best out of these teams of both staff and suppliers, coaching can be used as an opportunity to focus on the human dimension of the process and to identify goals which would create a greater sense of community.

When a company owns a business in another country, often the relationship is little more than an associate agreement: there are one or two individuals at the top of the organisation who report results to their parent company.

In the case of existing businesses which have been acquired, it often seems that very few of the local staff are even aware that they are now part of an international group; they may simply see themselves as the original company, superficially re-branded, with no motivation to explore international opportunities that result in being part of a larger group. For example, if a French company has a significant customer in Paris, then the London office should seek an introduction to that company in the UK.

When people move with their family, there can be many distractions and challenges in setting up home, which require more than just material guidance.

The Coach
Our coaches will have had experience of working in various countries and coaching new arrivals, as well as people who want to “raise their game." Coaches of this level will also be aware of management style and cultural differences and will be able to deal with these within the context of the working role.

The Coaching
Coaching is an ideal way to communicate cultural differences, as it is a form of learning that does not give all sorts of questionable advice. It will explore what the client believes about the new country and help the client discover which of the views are helpful and which are myths. Then practical suggestions and examples will enable a faster adaptation to the new environment.

For local staff, we also believe that coaching will identify and work through specific projects involving other international companies. If companies want to increase the benefits of an international presence, then coaching is the ideal way to ensure that these opportunities actually happen.


Summary
People often laugh at cultural differences. However, in the business world, management needs to gain the confidence of staff, and sales people need to close deals and create long-term relationships. One of the key ways of gaining people’s confidence is to show a knowledge and willingness to learn about them and their way of doing things.

Although this may seem obvious, coaching can speed up and improve this process, avoiding a stressful and sometimes antagonistic atmosphere. In a competitive business world, we believe coaching gives an advantage so that the full opportunities that globalisation offers can be realised.


 
 
 
 



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