Can you manage across cultures?
Test whether you have what it takes to manage international teams and to work with people from other cultures. Take 10 minutes to choose your answer to 10 questions testing your practical knowledge and skills.
1. Why is it not appropriate to delete the names of people you don't know from the cc-list of an e-mail?
These people belong to groups with whom information needs to be shared
A shorter cc-list indicates you have less power
By copying many people on the cc-list some cultures share the risk
2. After asking a difficult question during a meeting, it can be wise to propose a break before you even got an answer. Why would you do this?
Some cultures like breaks more than we do, so it’s polite to propose this
The group needs to be able to discuss the question and come to an answer on behalf of the whole group
People need time to think after a difficult question
3. What can be a good reason not to involve your subordinates when dividing the work for the team?
Dividing work is a delicate issue. It may be sensitive to involve colleagues in task-setting for others
The subordinates may be from a culture where the boss tells the others what to do; involving them is not appropriate, and uncomfortable for them
People should invent themselves what to do and take ownership: dividing the work works counterproductively
4. Why are some cultures hesitant to make a contract for a partnering agreement?
Putting all details and clauses in a contract can be seen as a sign you do not trust the other party
Making a contract is time-intensive and the time had better be spent on the details of the partnering agreement
Because people prefer to see the big picture, rather than the details that usually make up contracts
5. Why would a manager from a collectivistic culture avoid to give direct, negative feedback?
It is not his role to give negative feedback; the employee is expected to find out himself what can improve in his work
The employee may immediately decide to leave the company when he is told his work needs improvement
The person he addresses would lose face; better tell it indirectly, the person will extract the meaning of the message anyway
6. What can be a reason to put your initial demands very high in a negotiation?
The other party will be surprised, and for people from uncertainty avoidant cultures this is uncomfortable. It’s pure tactics.
The other party will be impressed: it is a sign that you are serious about the negotiation and that you want to fight for what you want to achieve.
This way you can test how the other party responds, and their response will tell you a lot about their intentions.
7. Why should you not include the question “Do you trust your managers?” in an employee survey in some countries?
Trusting somebody higher up in the hierarchy is a given; power distance implies that people lower down trust people higher up
Because a short answer to this question is impossible: trust is such a complex issue that it requires more nuance and a longer explanation
Nobody will say ‘no’ because they are afraid for repercussions if it is ever found out
8. What could be a reason to say “That’s an interesting proposal, we should test whether it is realistic maybe” instead of “That’s a bad idea”?
Ideas can never be bad.
It is more polite to give an indirect answer
It is not appropriate to make a judgment about somebody else’s proposals
9. Why is it in many countries so important to talk about personal matters (family, etc.) before doing business?
You need to know whether the other person is not bothered by things that happen at home: he should be able to fully concentrate
It underlines that you know that business is a personal matter; you need to know each other personally, otherwise there can never be trust
It may be too confrontational to start talking business immediately
10. In a phone conference with people from Asian cultures, you ask a question. Nobody answers. What could you have done in order to make people speak up?
Tell them upfront how you want them to answer.
Tell them upfront what you are going to ask them.
Tell them to whom exactly you are asking the question.
From now on, I will send you 10 times a year my update with interesting new articles, tips and tricks about working with other cultures. Your email address is safe with me and I will not take advantage of your personal information.
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