I have been reading and re-reading a host of intercultural books and articles over the last month. My favourite is a new book that I read a few weeks ago; Managing Across Cultures: The 7 Keys to Doing Business with a Global Mindset. It isn’t a book that provides specific insight into each culture/country as Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands: The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More Than 60 Countries does. It is an academic read which focuses on a self assessment across 7 elements and how they will affect you as you work with teammates from other cultures.
The 7 elements are quite straight forward and provide excellent insight through a questionnaire that creates your personal cultural profile. Or you can opt to join their website (which I am trialing) and automate the process.
Below is my personal cultural style compared to the ‘Canadian’ norm; suggesting that I am more ‘group’ orientated than the average Canadian who is highly individualistic, more interpersonal in relationships than the average Canadian, more fluid with time where the average Canadian really focuses on controlling time and a little less formal (I do have a very liberal ‘open door policy’ at work and when called “Mr. Weening” will respond “please call me Michael, “Mr.” is my father”).
The below is my profile versus the Canadian and the UK cultural profile. I wish I would have had this at my fingertips 5 years ago as I contemplated entering the UK culture. I would have thought deeply about how my personal cultural style of communication, hierarchy, control (Whether you view your destiny as on your control or one that is controlled by external factors – call it a measure of self-determinism) and formality differed from the UK norms.
A fantastic book that I would suggest to anyone who is contemplating working abroad and a tool that I will leverage as I work with cross cultural teams. Their website is even more fascinating as it has in-depth analysis of each country/culture, country ‘pocket guides’ and provides the ability for you to profile out your team (and different country members) so that each person can understand how they differ from their teammates.