“The business of international business is culture.”
(Hofstede G., 1980/1984)
Say you’re a foreigner stationed in China, an unfamiliar and vastly different land from your home country in multiple aspects. You order a glass of water at a restaurant and expect it to be cold and refreshing—instead you receive boiling hot water. Every time.
There is no right or wrong temperature to drink water. Drinking hot water is simply the societal norm in China – even during a sweltering hot summer. This will become one of many experiences you encounter that will completely go against your expectations. Chinese culture has been around for 5,000 years and is deeply engrained in all aspects of life in China, including business and work life. Leading global teams as an expat in a foreign land brings with it an immensely unique opportunity – as well as a slew of new barriers and challenges – which calls into importance the advantage of adjusting one’s expectations to the new environment, setting oneself up right, and laying a path forward for maximum effectiveness in the workplace and a positive overseas experience overall.
No matter the specific field a new manager finds themselves in, people-to-people relations will always be a significant factor that influences the success of a business, from start to end. This is where awareness of cultural-social elements and differences in team dynamics, ways of working, and communicational habits critically comes into play. Knowing meanings behind words not explicitly stated, being able to understand the motives, concerns, and deepest values of one’s coworkers/ employees, and conducting business with awareness of the aforementioned invaluable knowledge would give managers a huge leg-up in successfully leading their departments.
CULTURAL DIFFERENCES EXIST
A Chinese manager that is posted in Germany may be taken aback by the tendency of German colleagues to give extremely direct feedback—behavior that generally differs from Chinese tendencies, due to the “saving face” phenomenon that exists in China. On the other hand, Westerners may be taken aback by a Chinese acquaintance asking questions deemed personal (e.g. involving salary, age, or marital status) or making comments about physical appearance or weight that they would consider invasive or “crossing the line”. In China, it is the social norm and expectation to “wine or dine” potential clients, while in the USA, this could be considered crossing the boundary of ethics. Understanding what is socially accepted and deemed “normal” in the region that one is stationed will turn out drastically influential in the success of one’s leadership.
99 + 1
P3 Group provides an “onboarding” package known as 99+1, in which management activities and setup-related deliverables are planned and steered, ultimately resulting in a comprehensive document containing the activities’ results obtained and summarized. The content and activities of this project is modifiable to the client’s preferences—laying a groundwork for what activities to prioritize, topics to be aware of and track, and a clear vision for the future. The 3 main phases – discovering (understanding the situation and planning the program), precising (conducting deep dive activities), and shaping (consolidating results and documentation) – provide the overall framework for the 99+1 program.
P3 CHN has devised a “99+1 CHN” package, aiming to use the 99+1 program structure as a basis, while incorporating inter-cultural elements that allow a foreign manager expat to excel specifically in China. Think of “99+1” as a house, and the China-specific coaching element as an available balcony/ add-on. This component could include placing the client in experimental settings to allow for “practice”/ a learning experience for dealing with challenges and conflicts that arise in the workplace, and provide a safe environment to improve, garner results, and grow in confidence and adaptability. It would aid the client in learning about and putting into practice the business etiquette of the particular region.
Let us guide you the way
This customized-for-China package would be unique, placing a focus on an organization’s most valuable resource – people – while simultaneously leveraging P3’s technical knowhow and experience. It would utilize a regimented process using a structured and systematic workshop-style approach. It would integrate elements relating to behavior, value systems, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and communication techniques. It would allow the client the opportunity to share their primary concerns and challenges, obtain tailored guidance from the perspective of coaches not influenced by the politics of the organization, and aid in examining obstacles and barriers to achieving goals.
It would provide a framework for understanding diverse approaches to workplace interactions such as leading global teams, conflict and problem solving, and effectively managing projects. Its end goal: to illuminate a path forward on how best to operate in the target country – with all aspects considered – tailored specifically for the client, department, and project.
Cross cultural aspect
Granted, many companies provide cross-cultural trainings, but we offer unique value that is rare to come by—combining the cross-cultural aspect with the technical topics themselves. Not only is our team composed of multinational employees from all over the world, each fluent in at least two languages and possessing multicultural skills that allow them to be as effective and efficient as possible, our consultants are experienced in a wide scope of different industries, ranging from automotive to aviation to telecommunications. We pride ourselves in our technical expertise and experience, delivering solutions across topics while accompanying our clients through phases from innovation to implementation. We understand the technology, the methodologies, and the background topics that our clients are involved in. By being able to cover both the cross-cultural transition as well as supporting ramp-up, our clients can be assured that support is comprehensive and resources as efficiently used as possible. Creating and communicating a pretty slide is one thing—also understanding the content on the slide brings a whole new level of value that is priceless.
Leading a team of employees from a different background than your own is no easy feat and requires an understanding of the cultural and psychological factors that drive them. We have formulated a product that would equip clients with the fundamental knowledge, tools, and preparation for success on carrying out their overseas assignment, setting them up for maximum effectiveness from the start.