Even in today’s global business world, managers sometimes question the need for and efficacy of cultural training programs and intercultural coaching. At its core, they don’t understand the value of building relationships. As a result, they send their employees to meet with potential international partners and clients without ever receiving the slightest cross-cultural training, and that can lead to disaster.
A colleague of mine works for a large, international company and he communicates almost daily with his team in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, neither he nor his team has received any cross-cultural training. Upon visiting his team in person for the first time, little was accomplished. Because of a lack of “connection” with the team, the experience turned into nothing more than a “nice trip.”
Let’s contrast that with the experience of one of our Global Prep Squad clients from a few years back. GPS was approached by a woman who was having difficulty managing her team in the Philippines. She was specifically concerned that her team members showed little initiative or creativity. She asked GPS for intercultural coaching, specifically, cross-cultural training for her as a manager.
The first potential intercultural communication issue was identified as a difference in the “power distance” value between American and Filipino cultures. In the business culture of the Philippines, employees tend to defer to their supervisors for guidance and specific direction. In contrast, our client expected her team to demonstrate the American business cultural value of taking initiative and anticipating future needs. In the Philippines, that type of behavior might be taken as disrespectful or crossing boundaries.
GPS also introduced our client to the Filipino concept of “Pakikisama,” or the building of trust in relationships. Our client was so pleased with her cultural training and the benefits of her new-found knowledge of Pakikisama that she asked GPS to train additional managers in her company. As a result, the company was able to build an environment of trust within their teams and ultimately introduce elements of American business values to the Filipino teams. Our client reported a noticeable increase in her team members’ initiative and willingness to offer ideas.
The intercultural experience of our client stands in stark contrast to that of my colleague who was denied any cultural training. It should be obvious which business model yielded the best results.
Here at Global Prep Squad, we help you and your company navigate cross-cultural relationships through effective cross-cultural training.