Bob Small (Iowa) , who has been running the Integration Team for two years, informed his staff that he has accepted a new role with a competitor and is leaving in a month. Bob is unaware that his move is seen as self-serving whoring by several of his staff-because he puts his individual needs before those of his team.
Manfred (Munich) has just learned that his direct report Emma (Italy) invited Selene from presales agreed to attend a design review meeting. Manfred sent Emma an angry text message; Emma spoke to HR to get a transfer away from “Manfred’s control obsessiveness”. Manfred cannot understand why Emma did not run this decision by him first.
Shauli (Israel) asked Sanjay (Hyderabad) to suspend a certain safety routine for 5 minutes to allow him to fix a bug on site at a customer. Sanjay told Shauli that he will do so “after I tell my boss”. Sanjay thinks Shauli is overly pushy.
Sanjay (Hyderabad) told the same Shauli that he has indeed taken care of the purchase order for new CAD tools. Shauli has got the same answer for six months and he thinks Sanjay is a liar. The truth is that Sanjay has asked for budget, but has not “yet” received an answer.
True, Sanjay, Shauli, Manfred, Emma, Bob and Selene should learn about the cultural values of those people with whom they work. However, my belief is that the precursor to any cultural awareness learning is a thorough knowledge of how others’ see your very own culture.
This self awareness is often hardest for those who believe that other cultures are “less developed” than their own, i.e.- commonly Anglo cultures and Japan. Dutch, Scandinavians, Germans, Israeli and Russians have an easier time learning about themselves because they tend to be less defensive about how “right” they are.