Cos outsourcing cross-culture grooming for staff For HR managers in the knowledge driven technology sector, managing a young workforce and training them on cross culture issues, has emerged as a strategic differentiator.
Increasingly, for Indian companies, which are serving a diverse set of enterprises, spread across different geographies, grooming their staff on some simple and, yet, tricky culture issues, is getting increasingly institutionalised or becoming an expert outsourced option.Dr Zareen Karani Araoz, President, Managing Across Cultures, an expert agency offering services in cross culture issues, said, “For an employee who repeatedly takes a conference call from US at 3 a. m. regularly is a major problem area, but he finds it difficult to articulate this to his client or his counterpart in the US, due to fear. In an institutionalised environment, it is easy to learn to be frank, where saying “No” is often appreciated rather than saying “Yes’ and failing to deliver on the promise.
Speaking at an interactive meeting hosted by the Nasscom here today, Dr Araoz said, “In India, there is this tendency to adopt, which is good. But little do they realise that it is also good to say no in many cases and do what is expected of you rather than promise something that is impossible. When the work is half done, it is seen as a failure. ” Often being frank and honest helps rather than promising and not delivering. Typically, in the US, if a person were to be handed out 10 tasks, he would be frank enough and admit that he will be able t...
o handle five and deliver them all.
But in India, there is this tendency to work hard and take all the 10 tasks and end up working hard and completing eight of them. Yet such as person is seen as a failure. It is in such simple issues, training helps. “Our experience with most of the outsourcing jobs to India shows that we excel in accuracy. This is the case with most of the auditing jobs too. But if we don’t take culture issues seriously, this could jeopardise otherwise an excellent work.
This calls for trained people to guide,” she explained. The challenge is to facilitate employees better manage expectations and cut down on mutual disconnect.THE CROSS-CULTURAL ISSUES IN HRD Cultures are like icebergs; some features are apparent to anyone not in a fog, while others are deeply hidden. Above-the-surface features include overt behaviors: how people – dress eat walk talk relate to one another conduct themselves during public ceremonies such as weddings or funerals.
Also included are such things as social distance. Other aspects are so far below the surface that they are hard to recognize. We may see evidence of these aspects, but we usually can’t pinpoint them precisely and usually don’t have a clue where they came from.They are hard to define even for our own culture because we take them in with our mother’s language.
This might include such things as: how we encode and retrieve information What is justice? Music? Proper parenting? Beauty or ugliness? What meaning is attached to “teaching” stories? What does
being well educated mean? What constitutes status? OTHER ISSUES INCLUDE -DIFFERENT ASSUMPTIONS -USE OF LANGUAGE -INAPPROPRIATE DELIVERY MEDIUM -CULTURAL SPECIFICITY Communication Miscommunication across cultural lines is usually the most important cause of cross-cultural problems in multinational cos..Miscommunication can have several sources, including: • differences in body language or gestures. The same gesture can have different meanings in different parts of the world.
For example, Bulgarians shake their heads up and down to mean no. In addition, the way people count on their fingers is not universal: The Chinese count from one to ten on one hand, and eight is displayed by extending the thumb and the finger next to it. The same gesture is interpreted as meaning two in France and as pointing a gun in North America. different meanings for the same word. Like gestures, words can have different meanings or connotations in different parts of the world. The French word “char” means Army tank in France and car in Quebec.
The word “exciting” has different connotations in British English and in North American English. While North American executives talk about “exciting challenges” repeatedly, British executives use this word to describe only children’s activities (children do exciting things in England, not executives). • different assumptions made in the same situation.The same event can be interpreted many different ways depending on where one comes from.
For example, although the sight of a black cat is considered a lucky event in Britain, it is considered unlucky in many other countries. Dragons are viewed positively in China, but negatively in Europe and North America. These examples illustrate dissimilarities between cultures that are both large and simple in the sense that they focus on a single cultural aspect that keeps the same meaning regardless of context. As a result, such variations in communication will often be identified on the spot.
By contrast, subtle or complex differences are often identified much later in the communication process, when corrective action requires considerable effort and money. Sometimes, this realization takes place so late that there is not enough time to address it, resulting in a missed deadline. In extreme cases, miscommunication can lead to casualties. For example, a few years ago, a plane crash in the northeastern United States was caused–at least in part–by miscommunication between the pilot and air traffic controller. The plane was running short on fuel.
But somehow the pilot did not manage to communicate the urgency of the situation to the air traffic controller, who put the plane on a holding pattern because of airport congestion. The plane then crashed when it ran out of fuel. Approaches to Problem Solving The approaches used by engineers of different cultural backgrounds to tackle the same technical problem are likely to differ widely. The type of approach used to solve engineering problems is often a reflection of what is emphasized in educational curricula leading to engineering degrees in various countries.
In France and Greece, for example, engineers tend to emphasize theoretical or mathematical approaches over experimental or numerical ones. Other countries, such as Canada and the United States, tend to favor experimental or numerical approaches. Although there is
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