Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Scenario 1, part of Developing Cross-Cultural Intelligence.
- In these scenarios I'm going to present a situation to you so you can apply some of the principles that we have learned throughout this course. In this first scenario, you will see two professionals interact over a pretty standard workplace process, the performance evaluation. Judy is a midlevel director for a multinational company who just got transferred to France for a two-year stay. The new office environment is familiar from a company culture viewpoint, while Judy and her family are slowly adjusting to their new country.
Caroline has been with the company for the past five years and is on an upward trajectory. As a French national, she's well educated and already has been promoted twice in her time with the company. It's time for Caroline's annual performance review and as the department director, Judy will be conducting it. So here is a real world scenario where we can get to prepare Judy by walking through the steps of the cross-cultural intelligence mindset. We will assess the situation from Judy's standpoint, consider how she will strategize her approach, see her take action, and brainstorm ways for her to evaluate how she did.
Now Judy has some experience with an ex-pat assignment. She was assigned a Southeast Asian rotation when she first took her director role. She's familiar with different cultures, languages, and working styles. Still, she needs to be diligent in assessing the situation so that her interaction with Caroline is as positive as possible. As we prepare Judy for this interaction, let's make a list of questions she should ask as she assesses the situation.
She will have to assess the situation for both the new country culture and also the new office culture. So to understand the French culture, she might ask herself the following. Is the French culture attentive to status? Judy is older than Caroline, but she will make a good impression as a boss by being prepared and knowing all of Caroline's accomplishments from the past year. Is the French culture relationship or task oriented? Do people seem to spend a lot of time with one another or are they more secular? Is France an individualistic or collectivist culture as a whole? Now this is important to know because Caroline may not feel comfortable taking credit for accomplishments that her entire team has made for the year.
If Judy knows this, she will praise her for being an effective leader versus a high performer. Next she will want to understand the organizational culture. Is the office and the French culture more or less direct than what Judy is accustomed to? She may have to consult with a trusted colleague in the new office environment on some of these questions. What is the office culture? Formal between supervisors and employees? More friendly? Is it appropriate for Judy to ask Caroline for a coffee and get to know her a little better before sitting down for her performance appraisal? Do people in the office seem friendly? Do they hold small talk before meetings? Do people in France seem comfortable with close personal space? What is the office dress code? This is something Judy will have to have figured out but should she dress up more on the day she meets with Caroline to show respect for the occasion? Finally, Judy will want to consider her audience.
Now Judy knows that Caroline is considered for a lateral move that would enhance her experience, but it's in another European city. Should she assume that this will be a welcome change, like it would be for a US manager? After Judy gathers information that helps her assess the situation, she needs to strategize her approach. As Judy gathers this information, she decides to strategize with the following logic. France is a less direct communication culture than the US, so Judy might consider that Caroline may not be comfortable communicating directly.
If there's any piece of bad news to be shared with Caroline, should Judy communicate that openly? Judy may decide to spend some time with Caroline before the review to get a sense of her communication style. It would be as simple as asking her what she thinks about the latest company acquisition, or any other open-ended question that would allow Caroline to express herself. Judy finds out that France is a country based on relationship, but as a supervisor she may not be able to build the relationship in a short amount of time with Caroline.
Judy will need to get some advice from another director who came across this office from another country. Can she learn something from Caroline's file to comment on when they meet? Can she slow down her task and time-oriented style and just focus on the process? Judy pays attention to local news, culture or political happenings, so that she can engage in small talk with Caroline. Asking informed questions will only increase her credibility as a supervisor as long as she seems genuinely engaged.
Since Judy spent time in Asia, she considers similarities to the French work culture. She will need to flex similar behaviors in France that she did when she was in Asia. If Judy wants to be effective as a director in this new environment, she will need to read her surroundings and flex her style. Now let's see Judy in action. Judy has collected all of her information and talked to her predecessor, who was highly regarded in that position.
She's making an effort to get to know Caroline and praises her for past and current accomplishments. She has decided to mention the potential job transfer, but wants to allow Caroline plenty of time to think about it and discuss it with her family. Since she knows that Caroline is pretty direct and so is the French culture, she asks for a few open-ended questions about her specific feedback on specific work processes and ideas for improvement. When the meeting is over, Judy will evaluate how the performance appraisal and interaction with Caroline went.
She starts by making a list. Ask Caroline a few days later if she had any additional thoughts about their discussion, or if she has further questions about the potential job move. Continue to get a feel for interactions with the new office staff. Consider arranging coffee hours or going out to late afternoon lunches. Find a close confidante in the office, possibly someone who understands this culture and can help Judy assimilate. Assess the ongoing relationship with Caroline.
Does she seem to communicate openly with Judy? Did she express herself openly about the potential promotion? Did Judy get the positive result that she wanted? Now this scenario of Judy and Caroline is a pretty simple one, but a good one to demonstrate the cross-cultural intelligence mindset. If Judy assesses the situation she's working with, looks at her strengths and weaknesses, and then acts and evaluates, she will only get better, learn from her experiences, and become a more effective leader in the long run.
- Review the differences between high and low context culture.
- Define individual culture.
- Explore the differences between a direct and an indirect communicator.
- Define a high status culture.
- Define risk as it relates to culture.
- Recall the scenario that best describes a monocronic workplace.
- Review the characteristics of a person with a internal locus of control.