When escalation is a modus operandi, what are the cultural underpinnings?

1) There is a “psychological” sense of urgency, unrelated to real needs.

2) Speed has become default  strategy; sometimes, it does not even matter what is being done, it needs to be done quickly. This is often survivor-based mentality.

3) There is a generic low level of trust that others do their jobs well.

4) There is a belief that ingenuity and drive gets things done, whilst structure and process slow down things down.

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Why people from some cultures do not escalate issues

Often, managers ask my why people from certain cultures are reticent or refuse to escalate issues via email/phone call when appropriate.

Let us  take an example.

Tada from Chang Mai is a product manager for Product Q 4 in Asia Pac. Recently, a leading VP from HQ returned home with a long list of issues to be fixed. Tada had shared the list of  concerns only after having been asked. Let’s see why Tada never escalated  before he was asked.

1) Tada prefers harmony to conflict. Tada believes that conflict or bad feelings need to be avoided at all costs because these unpleasant  states are almost irreversible.

2) Tada believes that the role of his boss is to know things and act. If he does not know, he should know. If the boss does not know, he should ask. If the boss does not ask, it is not  Tada’s role to tell him and “upset” him or disrespect him.

3)  Tada believes that maintaining hierarchy is more important than resolving specific issues.

4) Tada believes that he will be “stick out as a trouble maker” is he escalates, and while escalation may solve a specific issue, his  reputation within the organization will be tarnished.

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