Setting Global Management Priorities in a Shifting Business World

Working globally in business today means more than travelling to an executive meeting in another country. It’s a broad-ranging pursuit that requires a deeper understanding of the contexts in which we work. International business trips not only foster exposure to other cultures and perspectives in your own dealings, but also assist in creating a more worldly approach to every level of a company. For leaders seeking a more global perspective, and wanting to develop global mindset in their teams, here are three ways to set global management priorities:

Look for quality over cost:

In my work with management teams of large international brands, I’m seeing a trend away from seeking labor that is most notable for its low cost. Companies now are more interested in the quality of the work. They’re looking for a more sophisticated ROI, which means skill level, language aptitude and time zone accessibility all rank higher on the list now, too. Cost, which was once the only question asked when looking to outsource or expand, has been pushed farther down. This trend has caused an increase in near-shoring, or companies looking to countries in their same (or closer to their same) time zone, for labor. It has also allowed high-skill workforce areas such as China and India to remain in the conversation, even as the cost of labor in those countries increases. Work ethic, cultural values and timeliness are now of greater importance to global managers than simply selecting the cheapest possible option.

Think beyond the BRIC countries:

In countries with a strong reputation for skilled labor and an ascending economy it’s now more competitive to recruit than it was when these countries were less developed. It’s also the case that BRIC countries come with their own set of challenges that foreign investors have a difficult time overcoming. Brazil’s government stronghold makes business dealings complex, China and the Chinese culture is still a mystery for many American and European firms, India’s infrastructure is difficult to navigate and the political relationship Russia has with other countries is mucking up potentially successful joint venture negotiations.

This isn’t to say BRIC countries aren’t still important markets for foreign business development, there is lots of opportunity.  But it does mean that BRIC countries are no longer as easy to penetrate as we once thought they were. Managers and companies who are looking for the next frontier of a strong labor market might look a bit farther off the traditional map: Indonesia, Chile and Ghana are all labor markets poised to take very well to outside investment. Just this week, a Chinese business group announced it is investing $2B into building an industrial park in the town of Shama on Ghana’s coast. In a few years, business investors will be looking at a whole new acronym for key international investment. Smart managers can take advantage of the upcoming shift by investing now in South East Asia, West Africa, South America and other burgeoning economies.

Renew your investment in management training:

With the rise of virtual workplaces, there was a shift away from formal management training. But company leaders have found that there has been a management and leadership deficit. In John Kotter’s recent blog, Management is (Still) Not Leadership, he points out that managers are less skilled today and individuals don’t necessarily know how and when to lead.  Today, companies are reprioritizing training teams to work more effectively, especially in virtual environments. Companies are now investing more time, money and importance in training global teams and managers are seeing the need to invest in programs so employees are well equipped to lead in global context.

The productivity and retention of employees, especially in a global team that doesn’t work in the same office, can be greatly increased by investing in training on how to effectively manage global projects and dispersed teams. Along with management training, performance management is becoming a critical issue as companies have more employees in more places. How companies assess and develop managers is becoming a critical point of investment and attention, as there is a focus on business growth and demonstrating ROI. This rapid growth makes training vital, both for internal employees moving up in the business and new employees coming in. Formal learning programs in both team and personal management skills will deliver a huge return on investment, especially in global company that is growing rapidly.

By focusing on these three management priorities, companies will set a globally-minded intention at the top and business will see efficient, more productive work from existing employees. In a growing business it’s better to make one smart, considered decision than to make two quick, wrong choices. That’s why I encourage managers to look beyond bottom line in outsourcing labor, to think beyond the common and increasingly popular BRIC countries, and to maintain a commitment to training employees in a continued, deliberate way.

How Managers Can Cultivate a Global Mindset

No manager in a growing business would say he or she isn’t willing to do what is necessary to help the company succeed. Yet many of them consider investment in global mindset training to be an add-on rather than a necessity. Global mindset training isn’t an optional area of casual interest for employees. It fills a strategic tactical need of operating in today’s business setting. By implementing the following changes regarding what it means to have a global mindset, leaders will grow their bottom line, improve communication and open new markets to their companies.

Prioritize personal exposure to differing perspectives. In an ideal world, every manager would do a six-month “study abroad” in a country other than his or her home nation. As much as we might like to believe that the Internet makes these kinds of experiences unnecessary, this kind of enriching experience is invaluable in understanding how cultural differences shapes business and purchasing decisions. Anyone who thinks the Internet has made the world completely homogenous has probably not spent six months in a country other than the one he or she was born in. Opening your own mind to the differences in cultures will help you understand what kind of perspectives you might encounter in global expansion, international sales negotiations or hiring discussions for a new regional vice president.

Employ anthropology tactics inside the company. While a six-month “study abroad” may be too much of a commitment in today’s world, employers should encourage managers to travel and visit with employees in their local office(s) on a regular basis. There is no substitute for meeting in person and seeing where employees spend their working days. If leaders approach their business meetings with the perspective of an anthropologist, they will more quickly get to the root of global business challenges. When observing staff in their home office, or even listening to how they interact over the phone, consider how their concerns might differ from your own. By learning to ask the right questions and listen with more precision, an anthropological approach will help you meet business colleagues with an understanding of their own unique perspective and motivations.

Pursue global mindset at every level of the business. While making global mindset a priority starts with upper management, executive staff aren’t the only people involved in implementing it across a company. Personnel in human resources, public relations, and corporate communications support those executive leaders. It’s just as important that staff in those areas have a global mindset as well, because they’ll be doing much of the practical work involved. Messaging for the company’s internal and external copy, meeting and training scheduling, presentation layout and tone are all tasks that need to be handled in a way that is culturally and globally sensitive. Making global mindset a priority for the entire staff, not just those who often travel internationally, will ensure that both everyday and long-term actions of the business are sensitive to the needs of other cultures.

Make face-to-face meetings a priority.  It’s true that technology has allowed businesses to complete entire large-scale projects without ever meeting in person. Sometimes they are completed without ever talking on the phone. But while this kind of work is now possible, that doesn’t mean it’s the most effective way to get things done. Research shows that if a project team meets in person even once during the course of a project, their productivity increases by nearly 50 percent. It might seem cheaper to complete a project in a completely virtual environment. But in reality, investing in travel budgets for the people on a team with members in different areas means better work done faster.

Devote serious resources to global mindset training. Competing in a global world is only one reason to devote resources to continuing training in how to communicate and interact with different types of people. A company with a continuing and well-designed program in these areas will raise retention rates for employees, be able to compete for talent, and be better equipped to access new markets and expand. A globally-minded business is also in a better position to develop products that meet the needs of more groups of people than a company with a narrow idea of its consumer. Learning how to communicate across cultures and perspectives should not be a half-hour slideshow during employee orientation. It needs to be a continuing partnership between managers and outside trainers with the same priority as training on customer management, product changes or selling techniques. By offering a program around skills in global mindset, behaviors and perspectives can be trained and changed to be more understanding and respectful of different types of people.

Global mindset is not just about understanding cross-cultural communication, it’s about understanding not only who, but also what and how to do businesses successfully across borders, regions and perspectives. By taking the topic of global mindset seriously for their teams, managers can leverage their resources more successfully and support company growth worldwide.

The Three Types of People Shifting Global Mindset in 2014

As we start a new year with personal resolutions to do better and work harder, what are we doing to make the world a more open, communicative place? It would serve our businesses, economies and governments better if more people placed value in cultivating the intellectual, social and psychological capital necessary to have a truly global mindset. That had me thinking: Who is really doing the work to change minds and shift conversations toward a more open perspective?

With these necessary shifts in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the kinds of people who not only cultivate a global mindset for themselves, but are also implementing it in their own spheres of influence.

1. The Female Executive: No single person made a greater impact on the spread of a global mindset in 2013 than Sheryl Sandberg. The internationally bestselling author and Chief Operating Officer of Facebook doesn’t just have an MBA from Harvard and a net worth of a reported $400M. In addition to being a savvy businesswoman, she is also a mother, advocate for women in business and the only woman on the board of Facebook. In her book Lean In, Sandberg has this to say: “A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.”

It’s this kind of mindset of true equality, and the spaces into which she brings that mindset, that make Sandberg such an influence in making others globally minded. She works in the male-dominated tech field, at the mostly male executive level. According to San Jose Mercury News, women hold only 10.9 percent of these highest-paid executive positions and board seats in California’s 400 largest companies. Yet Sandberg not only claims a definitive seat for herself: She advocates that more women rise to her level. Sandberg is a global mindset influencer because she is changing people’s minds, globally.

In 2014, there’s another female executive who is poised to change minds in a male-dominated industry. General Motors recently announced its first female CEO in Mary Barra, an electrical engineer and Stanford MBA. With her new position, she has the opportunity to not only shift assumptions about women in management and in the automotive industry, but also how people think about female scientists.

2. The Entertainment-Industry Feminist: In 2013, everyone from Kelly Clarkson to Lady Gaga denounced the feminist label in interviews. Whether because they’d rather identify as humanists or because they think the word is too angry, it has become popular for female celebrities to avoid the label, even as female leaders in society.

Because of this trend, it only makes the entertainment professionals who do embrace the term more influential. In her album released in December, singer Beyonce Knowles championed the term, sampling a TED Talk by writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her song “***Flawless.” The second verse of the song, taken from the writer’s TEDxEuston speech entitled “We Should All Be Feminists,” uses the word explicitly and positively: “Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” In addition to being a definition of feminism, it’s also very close to the definition of what it means to have a global mindset.

In addition to Beyonce’s influence as an international entertainment icon and vocal feminist, mother and businesswoman, Adichie herself is poised to make an impact herself. The Nigerian-born writer has been awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, the Orange Prize for Fiction, and the O. Henry Award. In 2013 she was named one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s Leading Global Thinkers. It is these talented women, in an industry that avoids addressing the issue at all, who will continue to influence and change how we think about women, business and feminism.

3. The LGBT Athlete: The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia will take place this February. But it hasn’t been smooth skating for this international event: worldwide criticism of Russian’s law against ‘gay propaganda’ has led to threats of boycotting by brands, athletes and international figures including German president Joachim Gauck. Russia’s anti-LGBT laws, which also caused the country’s Ministry of Justice to strike down a proposed LGBT welcome pavilion, are hardly promoting positive change for the athletic community and the world at large. They are also causing thousands of potential attendees around the world to choose against attending the games.

But the world is responding with a more global mindset than Russia has put in place. The official US delegation to the 2014 Olympics includes tennis legend and LGBT advocate Billy Jean King. In May 1981 King was the first professional athlete to be open as a lesbian. The delegation also includes Brian Boitano, a gold-medal figure skater who announced he is gay on December 19 just after it was announced he would be joining the official group. King and Boitano join two-time U.S. ice hockey Olympic medalist Caitlin Cahow, who also is openly gay, in the closing ceremony delegation.

These three athletes, and President Obama who selected the delegation, are putting in the work to change the minds of the people who enact laws like Russia’s anti-gay legislation. Even in 2014, being a gay athlete is a statement, and not an easy one to make. The first openly gay NBA player, Jason Collins, remains unsigned to a team roster following his announcement in April.

As one can tell from the issues each of these influencers is addressing, there is still a lot of work to be done to shift more of the US and the world toward a more open, intellectual consideration. These executives, entertainers and athletes make it clear that having a global mindset isn’t optional, but rather a necessity to be successful in the professional world or their professions today.

 

 

The Legacy of Transformation: Lessons in Leadership from Nelson Mandela

When people are determined, they can overcome anything.” – Nelson Mandela

With Nelson Mandela’s death this month, a global spotlight has been shining on his cultural legacy. Some voices have focused on his role in ending Apartheid in 1994, while others have revisited the ensuing changes of South Africa – the growing economy, the country’s rising profile as a tourist destination and the spread of global investments. Yet while many are celebrating Mandela’s unique and nuanced brand of wisdom, few have applied his lessons toward our ever-evolving business landscape.

If you’ve watched South Africa’s national journey, then you’re no doubt familiar with the country’s values of “reconciliation” and “transformation” – key guideposts lighting South Africa’s path to transformation. Politicians, citizens, academics and business leaders are committed to shaping an environment of forgiveness and cooperation; of becoming a prosperous and peaceful country where differences are resolved in favor of fruitful collaboration and constructive long-term interests.

If you’re asking what that has to do with business dealings, the answer is quite a bit. South Africa today is not only an emerging market but an economic and cultural mirror of Mandela’s legacy. As such, it offers important lessons for businesses all over the globe that want to make a positive impact on the world.

Consider three of Mandela’s lessons in leadership.

Purposeful Work

When I visited Nelson Mandela’s former prison, one part that made a deep impact on me was the rock quarry. He and other prisoners worked here all day in the heat, breaking rocks with their bare hands – even though the rocks were later thrown out. It was brutal, senseless work, and stood in direct opposition to the passion and purpose that Mandela embodied.

It’s worth asking today, regardless of occupation, country or background: what are we accomplishing? How can we ensure our work has purpose and creates value in the world? Meaningful work is not just for the idealistic; all over the world, companies and leaders are infusing their corporate missions with lasting and practical value. Leading the charge are Millenials, who have been vocal in their interest in working for companies that are making a difference.

Moving Forward

One of Mandela’s most admired traits was his ability to forgive. Rather than holding onto anger and the divisions caused therein, he actively sought to embrace the future and foster the opportunities possible with reconciliation. This generous resolve is one of South Africa’s most defining features – and a reason the country has become such a rapid growth market. While severe poverty still exists, the economic outlook has improved dramatically for both townships and cities. Africans from all over the continent come to South Africa for employment, while the nation has become a magnet for foreign investment.

Why has the country experienced such a swift upswing? There’s less competition there when it comes to multinationals, which means higher ROI for many investors. There’s also a high demand for new products and services; South African telecom companies have added over 300 million subscribers over the last years. It’s no surprise that companies like Volkswagen, SAP, Cisco, General Electric and BMW have all found success there. In fact, nearly 50 percent of the American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa members are Fortune 500 companies. By looking to the future, South Africa has catalyzed its own radical economic growth.

Social Responsibility

Sometimes buzz words become so popular that people fail to consider their deeper meaning. This is certainly true of social responsibility, and the ways we must honor the communities we invest in.

South Africa is a country like no other. With eleven official languages, multiple ethnic groups and rapid social change, the nation’s labor force and market conditions present a rich and rare opportunity. Africa as a continent is transforming itself to be a serious economic player, with many countries newly interested in entering that playing field. Yet to establish successful business connections, these international corporations must be committed to Africa as societal whole.

That means understanding the interrelationship between politics, business initiatives and social justice; it also means building relationships that show support and consideration of how a company’s investment impacts a community. Cultural awareness and diversity training, mentorship programs and initiatives that celebrate and honor the local culture are all vital elements in thriving global businesses. One example: SAP, the German software giant, created technology labs to help local children learn to use computers and prepare them for success in an increasingly digital world.

Nelson Mandela has left us, but his legacy of peaceful transformation lives on. Whether your business is seeking global expansion or simply to make a positive impact on its customers’ and employees’ lives, his lessons are worth remembering.

What Makes a Global Leader Savvy?

What is a global leader? What is a leader?

When people think of a global leader the words that come to mind are world-wide, international, inspiring, someone who takes charge, and someone who is capable of gaining followers. Leaders are assertive, they know exactly what they want, they are not afraid to speak up and are well-liked. Anyone can be a global leader, but what makes someone a strong leader? A savvy leader? People admire positive, inspiring, and ambitious people because they have a passion and vision on what they want to do in life and that is something many want to attain. Successful global leaders are well-rounded and also know what’s going on locally and globally. To become a savvy global leader, you don’t have to be born in another country or have parents in the foreign service but you do have to understand what is going on internationally. “Savvy” people understand and never stop learning so to become a savvy global leader, you need to be willing to learn and understand on a global scale. People can become a global leader with the right direction and simply making the decision to be globally-minded. Here are some tips to become a global savvy leader.

1. Learn another language: You don’t have to come from a international background to speak another language, you can simply learn one. You can learn new languages by taking classes, reading, and using audio-visual language courses online.

2. Travel: How can you be considered a “Global” leader if you don’t go global yourself? Traveling out of the country is the best way to learn a new culture. Talking to the locals in a particular country helps one learn about their way of life, community, and how they do business.

3. Stay Updated on Global News: Global leaders typically are up to date and aware of what is going on in the world so it’s important to read and watch international news. Knowing about what is going on in other countries is impressive and builds your credibility.

4. Have Friends in Different Places: A great excuse to travel and learn is to visit a friend you have in another country. Developing personal relationships abroad also helps with networking if you want to do business in that country or make important connections.

5. Understand your Company’s Global Potential: Global expansion may make or break your business, you will want/need to know if your company should target a specific country or area in terms of products and services.

Becoming a global leader is hard work but it is also fulfilling and a way for someone to keep learning about different cultures. Successful global leaders are willing to learn and understand and always ask what they don’t know instead of solely relying on what they do know.

Developing Global Mindset Will Produce A Successful Global Leader

With Melissa Lamson, Interviewed by Hana Al-Abadi

Q: How would you define ‘global mind-set’?

A: Global mind-set means how does one understand the way the world works today. That is; the values, behaviors, and attitudes in business and how does that impact the interactions one has with others in a professional situation. Global mind-set is the next evolution of intercultural communication and diversity because it not only emphasizes those cultural or individual behaviors but goes beyond to investigate how it logistically and tactically works in other countries. For example how are vendors selected, what are hiring practices across countries, and what are other’s expectations in making presentations.

Q: How is a global leader different from a leader?

A: Today, I don’t think there are many leaders that don’t work internationally. And I believe that all leaders need to have the perspective of being able to work and negotiate out of the country context they’re in. But what’s different from a “local leader” is that global leaders are savvy when it comes to understanding how business works around the world and they truly empathize and understand how it works across multiple country locations.

Q: What are the top 3 skills a global leader needs to acquire? Can they do this on the job or is it something that needs to be intentionally trained?

A: Global mind-set can definitely be trained but it does start with a basic premise of will. Such as do I want to understand? Do I accept the fact that I don’t know what I don’t know. So I would say the first skill would be a good global leader asks the question “what don’t I know?” The second skill would be the ability to truly listen and to empathize and ask probing questions. I sometimes say to leaders “act like an anthropologist, observe, ask questions, probe, listen, and reflect back.” The third skill would be to be able to make decisions clearly and quickly in different types of contexts because if someone is too concerned about being sensitive to other cultures, then they are too afraid to make a decision. It’s critical to get to the point, get to the result, make a decision and move on and people respect that around in the world.

Q: You have traveled to numerous countries all over the world, out of all the countries you have visited (if you can choose one) which country do you think has the best way of doing business?

A: I can’t really evaluate “best” but I do like the business practices in the Nordic countries such as Sweden. They have a very strong emphasis on equality between men and women. They really emphasize life balance.  Denmark, for example, consistently gets #1 on the list for the “most content people in the world”. What I also found fascinating was when I was in India, the people have a combination of brain power, technical competence and are also amazingly good at social interaction. The combination of IQ and EQ is truly amazing to see. They are so people oriented and at the same time so incredibly smart.

Q: What about communication best practices? Is there a country or culture that excels in business communication?

A: It sounds a bit biased, but I do like the speed and convenience in the way  the U.S. communicates in business. I think it’s a strength that they take risks, quickly make decisions and move on. I also very much respect the fact that Germany will look at a problem from several different angles so that they understand something thoroughly before they take action.

Q: What is one tip that you don’t  hear about doing business globally that would help executives improve their global business interaction?

A: Leaders generally have a team that work for them – handlers, if you will – and it’s very important that that team is globally savvy. If leaders surround themselves with people like that, then they will look more competent in their messaging, scheduling, way of interacting. The first thing I would do as a leader is assess my entire team – the inner circle working for me – and ensure they know how the world works.

Find out more on Global Mindset and Global Leadership and what leaders need to do to develop both: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXyRadt4Pg8

Avoid Promoting Spectacular Engineers to Terrible Managers

Recently, a top executive at an infamous global high-tech firm said, “The problem in Silicon Valley is we promote excellent engineers and expect them to be spectacular managers.” He contended that without solid people and management skills, excellent engineers are set up to fail as managers. He went on to say that the qualities of a highly qualified engineer don’t necessarily translate to good people management.

Managing people requires “über-communication”; listening, coaching, relationship-building, engaging, and all methods of communication which support and leverage the capabilities of other people. Engineers are used to working on specific projects – often autonomously – and have the special ability to bury themselves in tasks to reach completion. Although the end result is high-quality, the process often has very little interaction with the outside world. It is a different set of criteria and skills than managing; mostly relying on left-brain function, analytical thinking and technical capabilities.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that excellent engineers can’t be spectacular managers, but it does mean that companies need to ensure they have the following in place before promoting engineers to managerial positions:

1) An understanding of the challenges and the different sets of criteria for each role and

2) A program in place to allow managers to gain the knowledge and skills they need to do the job well

Additionally, here are 5 things to consider when you want to promote excellent individual engineers into managerial positions:

1)     Make sure a manager role is what they want. It doesn’t have to necessarily be the logical progression and some may not even want that kind of role, make sure expectations have been communicated clearly.

2)     Remember IQ doesn’t equal EQ. Just because someone is intelligent and brilliant, doesn’t mean they have good social or people skills. Emotional intelligence is a critical component to being a successful people manager.

3)     We don’t hire untrained engineers, why would we hire untrained managers? It is astounding how many companies don’t provide managerial training or may offer it reactively when things get tough or the organization goes through a change process.

4)     Keep them out of the weeds. Engineers like to “tinker”. They have a tendency focus on details rather than big picture. Try to encourage them to delegate and show how they can still be seen as an expert advice-giver, rather than the one who tinkers.

5)     Assess & train cross-cultural skills. Communication is one thing, communicating across cultures adds another level of complexity. Make sure managers understand what it means to work across cultures, particularly when working virtually, globally.

For more information about developing your management programs and manager coaching, contact Lamson Consulting at info@lamsonconsulting.com

 

 

The Key to Global Life Balance: Strengthen Your Resilience

Do you ever ask yourself why some colleagues seem to be able to handle stress? Or why, after a long day at work, your colleague asks who wants to go for a drink, while you long for a comfortable evening at home? These individuals do exist – those who seem able to manage all kinds of stress without a problem and remain cheerful despite all the global work pressures. What characterizes these colleagues is their resilience. By not sticking their heads in the sand, but optimistically facing each new situation that arises in the international work world, the stress they endure does not leave negative effects.

What is resilience?

First of all the good news: resilience in not inborn, we can all learn to strengthen our resources, face difficulties, take on challenges, and grow. Resilience stands for taking a positive, winning view of things. It places resources and possibilities in focus – not dangers and deficits.

Resilience means being able to stand up to global pressures, being optimistic and flexible, taking responsibility and planning for the future. “But we always do it that way!” Is not something resilient employees would say. Instead, their motto would be, “Let’s try something new.”

Why is resilience important for you

Those who are able to see professional changes and global challenges as an opportunity leave less room for stress to develop. For whatever we achieve and master creates optimism and contributes to our sense of self-confidence. By discovering your resilient capacities, using them, and expanding them, you can lower your own stress level. You will notice that much of what once might have been a source of stress no longer throws you off track so easily. Not only are you doing something for your physical and mental well-being, but you are also promoting your ability to achieve at work. In the end, the whole team profits from a working environment in which stress no longer dominates.

How to strengthen your resilience

Anyone can learn resilience. You can strengthen your resources best by working on your personality and your attitude. Leave the victim role behind and see the possibilities offered by supposed stress situations. A long-distance business trip to a global location need not only entail travel stress, but can also allow you insights into other cultures. Taking personal responsibility can show your special leadership qualities and help you develop a global mindset. And after many hours of overtime in order to finish an important project, you can look forward to the free time that awaits you.

Resilience is not something that comes from one day to the next, it has to be lived and learned. With each small step, you stand up to your stress and no longer allow it to gain the upper hand.

The Best Anti-Stress Tips for the Work Day:

  • Positive energy: You reap what you sow. With a smile on your face and respect for your colleagues, you can contribute to a more easygoing atmosphere at your workplace, the best way to avoid excessive stress. A friendly “good morning” or a “please” or “thank you” can often work wonders.
  • Accept challenges: You’re stronger than you think! Whether it’s your first presentation before a larger audience, the first project where you had sole responsibility, or a change to a new area: don’t see new challenges as a source of stress. For we grow with new challenges: what today is a cause for concern might be a gain tomorrow.
  • Communicate openly: Honesty is always best in the long run. By keeping the lines of communication open in your team – particularly in your cross cultural team – letting them know what causes you stress, what workload you can master without difficulty, or how much time or help is required, your needs can be met. In this way, various aspects of stress can be eliminated or mastered jointly.
  • Be aware of your limits and take breaks: Lunch at the computer? No, thank you. If you want to fight stress, you need time to recharge. So be sure to plan regular breaks: a brief change of location, fresh air, or a conversation with colleagues can provide new strength. In an acute stress situation, it is helpful to take a break and to take a few deep breaths.
  • Set realistic goals: Often stress arises because people have taken on too much. You don’t need to be equally good at everything: the better you know your abilities, the more successfully you can do your job. Set yourself realistic goals – the best device against self-made stress.
  • Find something that can guarantee the equilibrium in your private life: Even for those who work a lot, work isn’t everything. Healthy work-life management entails a balance between professional and private life. Whether it’s the family, travel, hobbies, or exercise: the main thing is that you can forget about work and leave office stress behind you. Rituals can often help, whether it’s the daily breakfast with the family or a regular evening just for partners or friends.
  • Laughing keeps us healthy: Humor makes us strong and resilient, and this is naturally also true for the workplace. Laughing with colleagues is not just fun, but helps us bond with one another: the next stress situation is thus only half as bad, because the team shares the burden.
  • Movement provides energy: Even if you feel exhausted after a long workday, just a little exercise ensures a palpable increase of energy. Sport wakes us up and clears our mind! We feel more fit and live. And a positive side effect: with the right exercise, you can avoid muscle strain and back pain!

Reprinted with permission from Global Health Management at SAP.

Effective Global, Cross Cultural Meetings

Join us for #GlobalMindsetChat, Thurs 9am PT / 12pm ET / 18:00 CET

This week’s topic: Effective & Productive Global, Cross Cultural Meetings

by Evelyn Eury @SageStrategist

Pitfalls of Global, Cross Cultural Meetings

Global meeting planning across cultures has many of the same pitfalls as traditional meeting organizing but is complicated by the cultural nuances of different offices, local customs and professional yet, culturally biased viewpoints. The savvy cross cultural meeting planner understands the cultural challenges and plans for them accordingly. In an August 2011 Gigaom.com article, Gary Swart pinpoints the first problem of planning and urges global leadership to make good decisions based upon analysis. He introduces a truth most managers already know: “managers spend between 30 and 80 percent of their time in meetings and more than 50 percent of them consider many meetings to be a ‘waste of time.’” (Swartz, August 28 2011) He asserts that effective meetings are rendered possible when planners first ensure that the event is vital to hold, carefully create an itinerary to be followed and that outputs should be evaluated post-haste in order to rate successfulness.

Challenges of Cross Cultural Virtual Meetings

Remote international meetings across cultures require all of these considerations but also necessitate cutting edge technology that allows real-time communication, the sharing of documents and data virtually, and ideally video to increase one’s ability to read other meeting participants non-verbal queues. Virtual meetings with international offices can also produce other hiccups: such as language barriers, divergence in availability due to working hours, varied holiday and leave schedules, and cultural nuance that impacts meeting participants level of comfort in speaking with other employees. New global, virtual meeting research shows that the number one barrier to global meetings across cultures are time-zones. Next comes lack of consistent moderation and cultural misunderstanding due to the inability of reading non-verbal cues.  In this case, meeting dates and time must be carefully selected in order to increase attendance, allow for translators where necessary and leadership must be aware of cultural variance in order to make all parties relaxed in communication style.

Questions for #GlobalMindsetChat, Thursday 9am PT / 12pm ET

Q1.  Should companies rely on internal translators to aid in meeting discussions? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q2.  Do you think it is more effective to work with a third party Translation Services vendor?  Any recommendations? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q3.  Do you think leadership should devise international office Holiday Schedules based solely on cultural sensitivity or also consider business needs? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q4. How does your company deal with time zone differences when scheduling meetings? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q5.  How important is cultural nuance when communicating remotely? Is it more or less important than true face-to-face meetings? #GlobalMindsetChat

Q6. If you fail to have cultural experts on staff that can speak to local sensitivities, how would you obtain intelligence to deal with this challenge? #GlobalMindsetChat

What is #GlobalMindsetChat?

Recent studies show that Global Mindset is the key competence leaders urgently look to develop in their workforce today.

Every week, Melissa Lamson hosts the varied and unique #GlobalMindsetChat on Twitter. The only one of its kind, #GlobalMindsetChat provides pertinent information on cross cultural, intercultural, and diversity topics that impact global business and the economy today.

How to join a twitterchat: www.Forbes.com

Global Leadership – Skills Global Leaders Need

The McKinsey Quarterly sited a study where 76 percent of senior executives said they believe their organizations need to develop global-leadership capabilities, but only 7 percent think they are currently doing so very effectively. However those companies who are getting it right in terms of global leadership development and acting as true global players are coincidentally taking three key actions: 1)Diversifying their boards culturally and linguistically, 2)Hiring and promoting from other country locations into top leadership positions (not just from the home country where headquarters is located), and 3)Decentralizing procedures and processes to a variety of locations around the world. For example, Bayer, the German pharmaceutical giant, housed their global IT system at the US subsidiary, not at headquarters in Germany. A seemingly radical move by most traditional expansion strategies.

Skills global leaders need to be successful:
  • Experience living abroad.
  • Cultural sensitivity, collaborative skills and a greater focus on emotional competencies.
  • The ability to accept that a particular situation my not be like anything they are familiar with.
  • The capacity to motivate, influence and enable individuals across cultures to uphold corporate culture and accomplish company goals.
How can leaders develop global skills?
  • Travel often and participate face-to-face in meetings with colleagues from the location.
  • Practice getting comfortable with ambiguity.
  • Be open to new ways of doing things, spend more time listening and less time speaking.
  • Commit to Global Leadership Development programs or participate in seminars.
  • Understand what’s going on-line and use all forms of technology to communicate with team members located globally.

Many say that we are at a leadership deficit in the business world and not only do we need existing leaders to improve their global skills, we need 1000s more truly developed leaders who can think, act and lead globally. Leadership is becoming more and more important in terms of motivating employees, facilitating new innovations, and driving projects forward. Are your leaders and is your organization prepared?

We’ll talk more in detail next month on how to assess and find the right global leaders.

For more information on how to work globally, contact us info@lamsonconsulting.com