The Importance Of Cultural Awareness Of Managers

Culture awareness guides our understanding and behavior. It shapes how we approach the world. Eva Hoffman (1989) provides a vivid illustration of how culture informs our perceptions of the world around us and guides our actions. Hoffman, born in Cracow, Poland, immigrated with her family to Canada in 1959, when she was 13 years old. In her autobiography, she describes how her best friend passed around a journal to her schoolmates to “write appropriate words of goodbye” (Hoffman, 1989, p. 78) before she left Poland.
Her Polish friends wrote:“Melancholy verses in which life is figured as a vale of tears or a river of suffering, or a journey of pain on which we are embarking. This tone of sadness is something we all enjoy. It makes us feel the gravity of life, and it is gratifying to have a truly tragic event — a parting forever — to give vent to such romantic feelings”. (Hoffman, 1989, p. 78)
Approach to workplace diversity is stranded in a cultural analysis of differences. For employees and employers to negotiate a diverse workplace in equally productive ways.

When African Americans became a more perceptible presence in the managerial ranks of U. S. organizations, they were often portrayed as bicultural because they were compelled to follow white organizational norms in the workplace and then switch to black cultural norms at home. Sociolinguistic research suggests that some African Americans move from speaking Black English Vernacular in their own communities or when they are with other African Americans to speaking Standard English in white institutional frameworks such as school or work. Defined as “a native of many homes,” the multicultural person is a difficult concept for a diverse work force.
It suggests that at any given instance, an employee has a cultural home that has a comparatively stable, enduring set of cultural assumptions. Defined this way, multiculturalism carries the same admonition as standard cross-cultural training for managers: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Organizations in the United States signify a microcosm of the cultural dynamics of the country as a complete. People of numerous different cultural backgrounds come together to recreate, on a continuing basis, our national (and organizational) culture and identity.
We don’t move from place to place; rather, we recurrently reinvent home. In this conception, cultural awareness represents retaining an attitude of openness toward expressions of different cultures as simultaneously engaging in a continuing process of creating and recreating a multicultural culture. This resultant multicultural culture maintains the reliability of many cultures while integrating them into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The emerging culture typically has the following characteristics:
• Executives are responsible for setting the organization climate
• Systems and procedures are established that support diversity
• Recruitment, promotion, and employee development are closely monitored
• Culture awareness education is an organizational priority
• Rewards are based on job performance (Cox, 1991)
Managers and supervisors can efficiently communicate with culturally diverse employees, according to George Simons (1989), by trying to understand each individual, his or her personality, his or her cultural background, and the workplace situation. Jawaharlal Nehru (1950) provided the following advice for achieving such understanding:
If we seek to understand a people, we have to try to put ourselves, as far as we can, in that particular historical and cultural background. . . . It is not easy for a person of one country to enter into the background of another country. So there is great irritation, because one fact that seems obvious to us is not immediately accepted by the other party or doesn’t seem obvious to him at all.  But that extreme irritation will go when we think . . . that he is just differently conditioned and simply can’t get out of that condition. Read about The Strong Culture Perspective
One has to recognize that whatever the future may hold, countries and peoples differ in their approach and their ways, in their approach to life and their ways of living and thinking. In order to understand them we have to understand their way of life and approach. If we wish to convince them, we have to use their language as far as we can, not language in the narrow sense of the word, but the language of the mind. That is one necessity. Something that goes even much further than that is not the appeal to logic and reason, but some kind of emotional awareness of the other people. (pp. 48 – 49)
There are expected to be problems that grow out of diversity initiatives. The following proven, fundamental ground rules can be a solid foundation upon which CEOs can build diversity programs:
(1) Do not evade the issue of diversity. In most organizations it is a puzzle that should be solved. And, like any puzzle, it can be worked out only if all the pieces are in place.
(2) Know what all employees under your supervision take with them to the diversity table that can help encourage their co-workers and the organization.
(3) Model diversity by being enthusiastically involved in diversity activities.
(4) Do not tolerate the insidious isms–racism, sexism, ageism, handicappism.
Jeffrey Goldstein and Marjorie Leopold (1990) elaborated on those suggestions. Managers and supervisors should also be aware of their silent mind. Numerous writers have described how our “silent mind” works-how we talk to ourselves concerning ourselves and other people. Actually, this is an intuitive level of awareness that triggers automatic or usual feelings and behaviors.
As an illustration, a manager who avoids telling an African-American employee that she is doing a poor job in definite tasks may be engaging in silent mind talk such as: “She is incompetent but she is also a physically menacing person. I won’t talk to her or even look at her. ” In yet another example, Paul, a personnel officer, has just hired a Puerto Rican female for a job she is not qualified to do. During the interview, he disregarded her job application and listened to his silent mind: “Wow, this is a physically attractive woman.
I would really like to know her better. Those dark brown eyes, full lips, and curvaceous body will look good in the sales department. ” It is imperative that a manager’s silent mind focuses on culturally appropriate behaviors. Thus, Recognition of the need to be culturally attuned is not new. William J. Holstein and colleagues noted in a Business Week article that going global can be awesome as experienced CEOs find that their executive skills developed at home are not almost as sharp when diverse cultures determine the playing field (Holstein et al. 1989, 9-18).
To sharpen these skills and permit managers to function cross-culturally, firms have characteristically focused on management selection and training. The thought here is that if being culturally attuned at home yields a non-cognitive automatic response, then suitably oriented managers could be selected and trained in the cultures of the world to exhibit also appropriate responses in other societies. IBM, for instance, requires that each manager shall receive forty-two hours of training each year on topics such as managing multinational groups of people and the internationalization of IBM’s business (Callahan 1989, 28-32). Read also under what circumstances should a company’s management team give serious consideration
Still, despite efforts such as these, one study noted that cross-cultural obstacles facing emigre employees continue to result in a failure rate of 20 to 50 percent of all expatriate assignments. International organizations develop certain assumptions, norms, patterns of speech and behavior that make them unique. Also, similar to social or racial groups, culture is one of the factors that differentiate one organization from another. Applying the concept of culture to organizations gives them a human quality.
Organizations become much more than the profit margin, the buildings, and the organizational charts. As living entities, organizations grow and change. They adapt to their environment and maintain internal health. Many management scholars have focused on the thought of adapting national culture in international business. It is usually defined as a series of basic assumptions that an organization has developed in learning to handle with its external environment and its internal functioning. These assumptions have been found to be effectual and valid and are therefore communicated to new employees.
Adapting foreign culture makes every international organization unique and bonds members of an organization together. The culture in the organization verifies what behaviors and ideas are acceptable and appropriate. Culture is the yardstick used to assess many behaviors and ideas, and it provides a foundation for the development of goals and strategies. For instance, an organization where one of the basic postulations is that people perform best under minimal control and supervision and need independence to excel would consider heavy-handed management techniques used by one of their new deplorable managers.
Furthermore, such an organization would be more expected to select a training program for developing participative management skills more than one focusing on processes for developing power. A case in point is the much-publicized W. L. Gore and Associates, with headquarters in Newark, Delaware, that makes wire and cable, medical products, Gore-tex fibers and fabrics, and industrial filter bags. One of the distinctive characteristics of the firm is its casualness and the absence of hierarchy and status symbols. Employees and managers do not have prescribed titles, and creative problem solving is extremely encouraged.
As a result, the use of status symbols that would designate a hierarchy is considered highly inappropriate. This instance demonstrates how a basic cultural assumption concerning factors that leads to effectiveness is used to find out which behaviors are acceptable (Jimmieson, Nerina L. , Katherine M. White, and Megan Peach, 2004, C1). Culture and business structure and strategy are inseparable, since structure is one of the major manifestations of culture. The culture is one of the factors that determine the relationship between employees and managers.
As with the other elements, however, the culture may also be the result of structure. For example, in a highly centralized organization, the implementation of participative management and employee empowerment will be impossible without a change in the structure. Thus, the two elements are totally intertwined (Skinner, Denise 1. 2004, 5). Both company culture and national culture recount to a persons’ effectual behavior (Fisher, Glen 1990, 98). Working in national culture means working in a different cultural environment.
As one national culture might interpret eye contact, smiling, happy, individual space, touching, punctuality, and arousing responses in a certain way, another culture might infer a totally opposite meaning from the similar behavior (Moran, Robert T. and Stripp, William G. , 1991). The deepest level of a culture is the least visible part, its value system. It becomes apparent indirectly, while working with foreigners. Basically, national culture inspires every feature of social behavior and manipulates communication style, personality, character, inspiration, knowledge and cognition.
There is a widespread body of work on cultural differences in communication styles in the linguistics and cultural anthropology literature (Reine, P. P. V. & Trompenaars, F, 2000, 237-243). Devoid of knowledge of the dissimilarities in national culture and mentality, without knowing how your colleague thinks, believe and proceed, or which communications and conflict-solving patterns these pertain, you run the risk of misunderstanding your business partners, and thus of jeopardizing your achievement both abroad as well as in locally-based inter cultural teams (Fisher, Glen 1990).
It is simply through the cultural, personal and communication understanding of the responsible persons that international assignments and company start-ups abroad can be prohibited from becoming failures. Cultures give people with ways of judgment, ways of considering, investigation, and interpreting the world. Thus the similar words can mean dissimilar things to people from different cultures, even when they talk the same language. When the languages are dissimilar, and translation has to be used to communicate, the prospective for misunderstandings increase (Fisher, Glen 1990).
“Communication is effectual when the person interpreting the message attaches a meaning to the message comparable to what was intended by the person transmitting it. ” (Fisher, Glen 1990). The national culture in an international organization endures gradual change as the organization adapts to diverse environmental and internal events. This gradual change is incremental and rarely entails significant deviation from established patterns. Effecting massive organizational change is therefore very strenuous. Changing the culture of an organization is as hard as changing an individual’s personality.
Moreover, strong cultures will be more defiant to change than weak ones (Tony Proctor, and Ioanna Doukakis. , 2003, 268). The recognition of “cultural awareness” in workplace is one way of both building and exploiting innovative knowledge, and means that ability that develops in a particular country can be nurtured and made available as a communal resource. There was, however, a contrast in the study firms between those that centralized know-how and then diffused it to operating units, and those that encouraged units to network and share directly with one another. It is the later who are nearer the transnational ideal.
While these different methods of knowledge transfer are apparently necessary, it could be argued that what is of most significance to the development of world-wide learning is to develop the right climate. What separated the ‘advanced’ from the ‘beginners’ amongst the group of companies in the research was the commonness of a learning culture that came through in several of the interviews. The leading companies in this aspect of transnationalism were those where there was an apparent encouragement to learn from others, and the breaking down of the thought that the parent organization was the sole source of expertise.
Two things seemed to be motivating this concept. The main one was the need for greater competence in the face of competitive pressures. Recognizing and promoting good practice so that all units come up to the standard of the best is one way of attaining this that also leads to evenness between country units producing the same products for the same or similar customers. Though, there was also a socio-cultural aspect to these developments. The concept of cultural diversity seems to have made its mark, and several contributors spoke of moving away from a past practice of trying to inflict parent company norms on subsidiaries.
The policy of persuading staff to learn from elsewhere supports the climate of geocentrism that numerous of the companies are trying to foster. Succession is coordinated so that information flows from subsidiaries, and the businesses and countries are concerned in decisions on appointments. A common device is a committee that plans and manages the appointment and development of senior management, and might also find ways of giving international experience to more junior staff with potential. Cultural awareness and other international concerns are built into management training programmes.
The aims are twofold: first, to broaden the pool from which appointments are made. Second, to give managers and prospective managers’ international experience, which global companies believe to be important for those in senior positions? As a consequence of the international approach, more third country national appointments are made, which in time can mean foreign nationals on the top parent executive group. In some of the MNEs in the study, the synchronization of appointments was at a European level as well as globally.
The global companies typically designate an international management group, who are considered as a corporate resource and whose role assignment and remuneration are determined in the corporate head office. A common estimate scheme, such as the Hay Guide Chart, can be used to provide for some parity of reward. Setting up this group does not inevitably mean that large numbers of them will be on foreign assignments at any one time. The cost of foreign assignments is a factor to consider against the benefit they get.
Several participants in the research commented on this, and were perceptibly giving thought to the most useful way of developing an international culture. Based on some of their comments, a good practice model might have the following elements.
• Provision of international experience to professional staff early in their career rather than waiting until they move into the top level;
• Organization of international management training events that take people from different cultures together, and also assimilation of ‘international’ material into training programmes run in businesses and countries;
• Designation of the level at which managers are treated as part of a corporate resource whose career is managed centrally;
• Founding of a representative international group to oversee international appointments;
• Careful and selective use of foreign assignments for senior managers;
• Promotion of networking relatively than assignments as a way of developing cultural awareness and experience of contributing to international issues.
There is a diversity of cross-cultural training programs (i. e. , cultural assimilator, lecture, experiential), most focus solely on promoting cultural awareness for expatriates and are intended for individuals. Whereas these programs have normally been shown to be effective and to lean to have a larger impact on cognition than behavior (Bhawuk ; Brislin, 2000; Deshpande ; Viswesvaran, 1992), few focus on the more detailed topic of preparing team members to work as part of a multicultural team (interaction of culture with teamwork processes) and even fewer focus on preparing leaders to pact with the potential process difficulties within these types of teams. Furthermore, because most focus mainly on cultural awareness to the neglect of specific behavioral skills, it is not unexpected that training has a larger impact on cognition.
As evidenced by observations of a military unit preparing to deploy to Bosnia, where several training deficiencies in terms of content and a lack of diagnostic feedback were noted (Pierce, 2002), we do not yet have a good understanding of how to prepare teams or their leaders for operation within multicultural units. In an effort to develop efficient, theoretically based training for those charged with leading multicultural teams as well as for the teams themselves, we propose to leverage against a established instructional strategy known as event-based training.
Event-based training is a scenario-based instructional approach that is pertinent for training leaders of multicultural teams for several reasons. First, it has been used extensively within complex, forceful environments such as those brought about by diversity (Fowlkes, Dwyer, Oser, ; Salas, 1998).
Second, its development is based on principles of human learning and the science of training. Third, it is a method by which some of the best aspects of existing multicultural training can be joint (i. e. , it is very flexible).
For example, it can be (a) embedded within diverse training formats (e.g., simulated environment, assessment center, on the job), (b) experientially based, (c) tailored to the stage of cultural integration, and (d) given almost any time and anywhere. Moreover, as to change culture, all three of its levels have to change. Varying the first level of culture which includes all artifacts, physical elements, dress codes, building decoration, symbols, logos, and yet employee behaviors and speech patterns–is comparatively easy. One key to such change is a new reward system.
For illustration, cooperative behavior can be confident and taught if organizational reward systems encourage it. Employees come to learn that they will be rewarded for collaboration. Changes in this first level, however, do not essentially lead to changes in the second level, which comprises values, or in the third level, which consists of basic assumptions. The latter two is much harder to amend. For example, although as a result of training and a new reward system employee can learn to behave more considerately, they might still value competition and consider it to be the key to success and high performance.
In the short term, cooperation can develop into an espoused value. It can become a deeply held value simply if it is proven successful over a period of time. In addition, values that are distinct with basic assumptions are likely to lead to conflict and tension and are less probable to be adopted (Lloyd, Margaret, and Sheridan Maguire. 2002, 149). It is the continuous success of a new behavior (first level) that leads to the development of a new value (second level). If this new value is sustained and proven effective, it can lead to changes in several basic assumptions (third level).
In the implementation of organizational change, a top down approach is less expected to be effective, although it will lead to behavioral changes. Basic assumptions can simply be changed if all organizational levels are committed to the change and adopt it as their own (McNish, Mark. 2002, 201). The process will perceptibly take longer; however, employee participation leads to obligation to the development of new assumptions. Overall, although it may be moderately easy to change the discernible and obvious elements of national culture, it is very hard to amend the core of culture.
Without the amendment of the basic cultural assumptions, the culture will only change apparently. Only with the long-term success of new behaviors will new postulations develop. However, the deep-seated paradigms may avert consideration of new behaviors and values, since they often lead to a biased interpretation of the accomplishment of new behaviors and therefore discourage their use. Without major cultural change, substantial strategic change is likely to fail.
Although the formulation of new strategy may be moderately easy, its successful implementation depends almost completely on existing culture or, in many cases, on a change in the existing culture. But such a change is exceptionally difficult and can only be successful with broad planning. Managers can distinguish and acclimatize to different work styles and cultures. Getting work done through others entails a free flow of perfect information and open, prolific relationships with employees. But that’s easier said than done in a diverse workplace where lots of cultures collide.
On the other hand, nearly every aspect of daily human life involves negotiations. Parenting, interpersonal relationships, commercial dealings and communications with customers, co-workers and suppliers are some of the few to name. Employees through strong negotiation skills are important assets to organizations. Armed with the accurate knowledge, approaches and skills, well-trained and well-prepared negotiators deliver results that go immediately to the bottom line. Diverse techniques of negotiation attach to your ideas. An instance of this is when Americans were negotiating with Vietnamese.
They used a plan stratagem in order to stick. Poor negotiating is when someone talks to you. Negotiating downwards is not an excellent way. It is like takes it or abscond it approach. Approximately everything is negotiable (Reine, P. P. V. & Trompenaars, F, 2000, 237-243). Another culture difference is a bigger course toward people. It is in addition a high-level of internal negotiation, and a greater skill in managing international variety. European managers are able of managing linking extremes (AAhad M. Osman-Gani & Zidan, S. S, 2001, 452-460).
Working in another culture a lot depends on the inter-cultural skills of the negotiator. Whereas technology and financial ability might be an issue in the negotiation process in our fast-growing world, the cultural competence of the negotiator provides a company the viable edge (Moran, Robert T. and Stripp, William G. , 1991). Cultural values persuade all features of behavior in doing business in negotiating through people from different surroundings; the most efficient approach for overcoming probable communication barriers is to center on the interests of the parties (Reine, P.
P. V. & Trompenaars, F, 2000, 237-243). Why do they want what they want? You have to go at the back the validations they may use to protect why they want something; finally virtually everyone can come up with an explanation for whatever they want. The actual issue is how what they want will hand out their interests (AAhad M. Osman-Gani & Zidan, S. S, 2001, 452-460). Negotiation progression is a build process. It is a challenging style, cooperative, working together, avoiding, and compromising style. There are negotiation tactics, which are trouble solving win-win and partnering.
It is a build trust, shows optimistic feeling, and reduces differences, obvious and rational. It is also inspired, peaceful shows patience, elastic, seeks common interest, makes others contented, yields to good alternatives (Wiechecki, Barbara. 1999). Lots of manager has been aggravated by the employee who nods in obviously considerate of a direction, then does just the contradictory. Or there are the staff members who rise cold and distant after getting feedback on their work, as well as the team members who clam up at meetings when asked for ideas (Fisher, Glen 1990).
Besides, our understanding, culture manipulate how close we stand, how loud we converse, how we contract with conflict even how we contribute in a meeting (AAhad M. Osman-Gani & Zidan, S. S, 2001). Though lots of cultural norms manipulate a manager’s behavior and ensuing reactions, mainly significant ones are hierarchy and status, groups vs. individual orientation, time realization, communication and conflict pledge. By failing to recognize how culture collisions individually needs and preferences, managers, a lot misunderstands behaviors (Moran, Robert T. and Stripp, William G. , 1991). Think about the norm of hierarchy and status.
If you desire all people to feel valued and to contribute in indicative or decision making, differences in this standard could be restrained. An employee who has been taught regard to age, sexual category or title, might out of respect timid away from being sincere or offering ideas as offering proposals to an elder or a boss might emerge to be tough authority. The manager in addition might require structuring a climate that balances predilections for group and individual work. The employee who can’t or won’t subordinate individual wants or requirements for the good of the group might perform better working alone (Casse, Pierre 1995).
A culturally skilled manager generates opportunities for individuals to take a number of risks and investigate projects that don’t need coordinating with others. Doing so can hearten employees with a sturdy individualist bent to draw concentration to significant matters, such as policies or procedures that don’t work. On the other hand, when managers put too high a premium on evading workplace discord, even distinctive employees may be disheartened from providing potentially productive feedback (Moran, Robert T. and Stripp, William G. , 1991). However, managers require comprehending the people with whom they work (Casse, Pierre 1995).
Devoid of clear mutual understanding, it is almost not possible for a team to attain its objectives. Even in a comparatively standardized organization, designers and accountants, for instance, might be seen as representing diverse cultural perspectives. Getting them to work efficiently together is perceptibly crucial for a company’s success. And, most confidently, getting people whose cultural variety is based on diverse issues is no less significant (Adelman, Mara B and Levine Deena R. 1993). To obtain the information you require you have to get alternative approaches that are more in order with the employee’s culture.
Here are a number of suggestions: Evade yes/no questions such as “Is that clear? ” or “Do you understand? ” provide the employee options from which to prefer. Inquire for specific information, such as “Which step will you do first with this new practice? ” If time allows, carry out the task along with the employee or watch to see how well he recognizes your directions. Endeavor using unreceptive language that focuses on the circumstances or behavior, rather than the individual. For instance, “Galls should be answered by the third ring” or “All requests require accurate charge codes so as to be processed.
” (Adelman, Mara B and Levine Deena R. 1993). Give workers enough lead time to gather their thoughts before a meeting so they can feel prepared to get input. Have employees work in petite groups, engendering ideas through discussion and presenting input as a group. One of the most significant functions of a manager is budding and grooming employees for encouragement. Cultural norms have a vast collision on this job as of the underlying conjecture a manager might make about an employee’s prospective (Fisher, Glen 1990).
One has to be cautious not to designate people with a particular image, to think that everyone with a particular ‘label’ thinks or acts alike. If it isn’t for differences, the world would be a very uninteresting place. What we require to do is finds out how diverse interests can be addressed to yield results that work for the organizations that have the decisive liability to realize an agreement. Organizational cultural diversity is merely one of the rudiments that desire to be taken into relation to keep things operating on a cultured level.
• AAhad M. Osman-Gani & Zidan, S. S. “Cross-Cultural Implications of Planned on-the- job Training. Advances in Developing Human Resources, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 452-460. November, 2001.
• Adelman, Mara B and Levine Deena R. 1993. Beyond Language: Cross-Cultural Communication. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Regents. Bareback, Winston. 1997.
• Bhawuk, D. P. S. , & Brislin, R. W. (2000). Cross-cultural training: A review. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 49 (1), 162–191.
• Callahan Madelyn R. 1989. “Preparing the New Global Manager”. Training & Development Journal, March, pp. 28-32.
• Casse, Pierre (1995), Managing Intercultural Negotiations: Guidelines for Trainers and Negotiators. Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research, Washington, DC.
• Cox T. H. Jr. (1991). “Managing diversity: Implications for organizational effectiveness”. Academy of Management Executives, 5, (3), 45-54.
• Deshpande, S. P. , & Viswesvaran, C. (1992). Is cross-cultural training of expatriate managers effective: A Meta analysis? International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 16 (3), 295–310.
• Fisher, Glen (1990), International Negotiation: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Intercultural Press, Yartmouth, ME.
• Fowlkes, J. E. , Dwyer, D. Oser, R. , & Salas, E. (1998). Event-based approach to training (EBAT). International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 8 (3), 209–221.
• Goldstein J. & Leopold M. (1990). Corporate culture vs. ethnic culture. Personnel Journal, 69, 83-92.
• Hoffman E. (1989). Lost in translation: A life in a new language. New York: Penguin. • Holstein William J. , et al. 1989. “Going Global”. Business Week, October 20, pp. 9-18.
• Jimmieson, Nerina L. , Katherine M. White, and Megan Peach.
“Employee readiness for change: utilizing the theory of planned behavior to inform change management. ” Academy of Management Proceedings (2004): C1.
• Lloyd, Margaret, and Sheridan Maguire. “The possibility horizon. ” Journal of Change Management 3. 2 (2002): 149.
• McNish, Mark. “Guidelines for managing change: A study of their effects on the implementation of new information technology projects in organizations. ” Journal of Change Management 2. 3 (2002): 201.
• Moran, Robert T. and Stripp, William G. , 1991. Dynamics of Successful International Business Negotiations, Gulf Publishing, Houston, Texas.

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