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Mihalicz_Different Cultures

We know from previous articles that to be effective, managers need to satisfy five key requirements with their direct reports and their team. Successfully setting context and boundaries, planning, delegating, executing personal goals and establishing feedback loops are all critical to ensuring that you and your team are aligned to the organization’s strategy. Where it gets interesting is when you think about the recipients of that information. In other words, not all direct reports receive the manager’s message in the same way.

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Management sciences literature confirms that individuals with different education levels and varied personal and professional backgrounds interpret what they hear differently. To compensate for this wide spectrum, there are three ways managers can be more effective in different realms, cultures and organizations:

1. Ensure Clarity in Messaging

Whether work is being performed across town or across the globe, effective management requires clarity in messaging. Managers must set the appropriate context and boundaries for how work should proceed. If this information is not readily understood, it will have a negative impact on output. Clarity in messaging is a fundamental part of effectiveness and even more important when dealing with individuals from different backgrounds. From setting context to delegating, managers who are clear, articulate and precise will have more success.

2. Proactively Use Feedback Loops

Feedback loops are an essential part of communicating and fostering relationships between managers and their direct reports. When working in different environments, managers must be aware of how feedback loops can be misinterpreted. There needs to be a conscious awareness on the part of the manager that individuals have different filter mechanisms. For instance, someone from a different country may have been taught not to question authority, whereas someone from yet another country may use feedback as a question-answer session and an important tool for clarification and understanding. Managers need to use feedback loops proactively, asking questions to ensure everyone has received the intended message clearly and feels confident that they can follow up as required.

3. Reaching Out To Set Everyone Up For Success

Through informal feedback and questions from their direct reports, managers can ensure clarity, and understanding. If, however, this process fails, managers need to be prepared to find alternative ways to reach out to individuals, explain what needs to be done, and help reset context, thereby setting themselves and their team up for success.

Managers who are placed in different work environments will undoubtedly be exposed to various cultures, traditions and general ways of doing things. Even organizations within the same country may have considerably different cultures in terms of what is considered accepted behaviour and appropriate between superior and subordinate. Ensuring clarity in messaging, being proactive with feedback and reaching out when necessary will ensure managers are as effective as possible, regardless of where they happen to be.