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.