Even though business globalization and geographical interconnection have grown more common, most managers are not prepared to work with people who are very different from themselves. When diverse ways of thinking, understanding, acting, and communicating come together in a work environment, many well-intentioned managers flounder. It takes time to listen to people express ideas in unfamiliar accents. And it takes understanding to mediate a clash of cultural assumptions.
Among typical issues which arises when managers collaborate across cultures, they often encounter the following challenges –
- Cultural misunderstandings. When people from different nations interact, opportunities for confusion based on culture grow. This is what Ray Dalio refer to our different wiring, which affect our decision making approach, logical thinking and behavior.
- Lack of trust. Mutual trust is crucial for successful collaboration. However, when cultural lines are crossed, collaborators may have difficulty finding common ground.
- Mishandled negotiations. Effective negotiation is difficult to master, even between colleagues of the same nationality. When you factor in cultural differences in negotiation style and approach, it is easy to see why so many global negotiations fail.
- Language barriers. When people from different countries collaborate, they may have varying levels of proficiency in the common business language. If non-native speakers of the language feel ashamed of their limited ability, they may withdraw from the conversation. Language differences often cause misunderstandings and frustration. Here i would reiterate that it is important that everyone to learn the native language of where they work, or at least put up some effort to learn it.
- Physical distance. Sheer physical distance can present scheduling challenges when you’re collaborating with people from other countries.
Team alignment. Leading a global team toward a common goal can be especially demanding. Members of different cultures may have difficulty identifying as part of the team and aligning behind agreed-upon goals and responsibilities.