With the rise of the Global Manager, and the importance of the adaptation of strategy for understanding and communicating from one culture to another, there has never been a more important time for Global Mobility Specialists to appreciate the importance of the contribution that Cultural Awareness makes on the pathway to senior leadership roles; for creating an agile talent pool; and to maximise the impact and efficiency required in every long term, short term or developmental assignment.
Staggering statistics indicate that at least one in every four International Assignments fail!
The reasons given are usually cultural challenges, family issues, homesickness and the inability to adapt to the local business culture, where a seemingly insignificant or trivial mistake can jeopardise working relationships and immediately affect business success.
An awareness of cultural differences and sensitivities, in other words, having a Global Mindset, will minimise and mitigate costly misunderstandings, promote better communication, and manage expectations ahead of the assignment.
But it’s not quite as simple as that………..
What are the elements that impact on business relationships across borders? What are the critical elements for different cultures? How can assignees recognise these critical elements and ‘learn’ how to adapt their own approach in order to work more effectively with foreign clients, colleagues, counterparts, partners, suppliers or customers?
A recent study reported that 91% of Companies see a Global Mindset as ‘mission’ critical…………..
BUT do assignees really know and understand the Cultural Rules of Engagement, DO companies really understand the scale and importance of cultural issues, and are they really aware that most issues are both country specific and unique to each country or culture?
Every assignee will already have their own cultural mindset (the one that they’ve developed from birth, by exposure to the culture in which they’ve grown up) and every assignee will have their own pre-conceptions of other cultures. If assignees need a Global Mindset, for ‘mission’ success, then they need the Cultural Intelligence to recognise cultural differences. They also need country specific knowledge, and an awareness of business and social etiquette, in order to be properly prepared for their ‘mission’. This Global Mindset must be learnt, and it is unsurprising therefore, that the relevant training and support can make the crucial difference between an assignment’s failure and success. The relevant focus on those elements that increase an International assignee’s effectiveness in the target country, is therefore vital to a successful assignment………
· It transforms the assignee experience
· It provides valuable tools and strategies to expedite adaptation
· It significantly reduces the risk of frustration and culture shock, by managing expectations within the cultural setting; and
· It eases the burden of the Global Mobility Manager
With the expertise that Global Mobility training delivers, the benefits are financially tangible from recruitment and selection, to project support and repatriation, in fact, throughout the entire assignment cycle, providing a positive impact on relationships and productivity. It’s no coincidence that in a recent study of Business Professionals, the results conclusively showed that the impact that a Global Mindset had on professional success, meant that Professionals with that mindset:
· Were three times more perceptive, adaptable and productive
· Felt twice as valued as other assignees; and
· Were four times more likely to be promoted
The challenge for any organisation doing business internationally is, therefore, not only to appreciate the importance of understanding cultural diversity, but to enable its integration within the business strategy, in the context of its business goals.
If a business needs to:
§ recruit or develop a Global Workforce
§ employ frequent cross border travellers
§ relocate people to other countries on temporary or longer term assignments
§ work with culturally diverse, remote or virtual teams; and
§ secure new International Business or develop existing International Business in the Global Market place
then to stay relevant and competitive, the correct Global Competency Framework is required.
What’s important is to achieve the right strategy, for the right people, in the right International Market. Success will follow……….!