Working in the contemporary world
The concept of working around the world entails travelling between different time zones, as well as understanding the cultural elements of the host countries (Moran & Harris, 2011). Issues relating to cultural differences have a huge impact on the manner in which contemporary organizations approach the concept of human resource management. The main reason for this is the increasing levels of diversity within the workforce.
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Some of the challenges that human resource personnel face with regard to having a culturally diverse workforce include different ways of looking at things, dressing, ways of expression, greetings, and general etiquette (Center for Creative Leadership, 2011).
For example, the way women are allowed to dress for work applies differently across various cultures. Therefore, it is important to understand the way people from a certain country or region interpret the various aspects of society that define their work culture. Research has established that cultural competency is one of the most desirable qualities in the contemporary workplace. This has continually led employers to hire individuals that can work effectively in a highly diverse environment (Johnston & Marshall, 2013).
Work cultures in different countries
In the contemporary world, it is very important for employees to understand the way cultural differences influence their ability to give perform within the workplace. Numerous studies have been conducted in a bid to establish some of the characteristic elements that define working cultures in countries across Europe, Asia, the United States, Africa, and South America (Elmer, 2009).
Although technology has brought the world to a more familiar ground in terms of the interaction levels, cultural differences are still an integral part of the workplace culture. In order to have successful workplace relations, all employees ought to familiarize themselves with the preferences and behavior patterns of their colleagues from different cultural backgrounds (Strutner, 2013). It is important to note that the work culture exhibited by emerging global economies such as China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Indonesia are very different from that of leading economies such as the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (Center for Creative Leadership, 2011).
The main cultural difference between working in the United States and Asia is the balance between harmony and control. People in China prefer to have a harmonious system of operations where everything is balanced, while working in the United States entails objectivism characterized by achieving control and mastery (Williams, Bradley & Erickson, 2014). Meetings are one of the elements that illustrate this element in an effective manner.
Meetings in the United States are used to make decisions, where there is a specific problem to be solved and everyone present is expected to contribute towards the final decision (Strutner, 2013). Participants are often encouraged to challenge the contributions made by others provided they lead to a better outcome. On the other hand, meetings in China apply for briefing purposes. People go to meetings knowing the subjects that will be covered and the final decisions made.
During meetings in China, participants are not allowed to oppose the opinions of their elders because it is disrespectful and often compromises the harmony within the team. Maintaining harmony and the status quo are the main purposes of meetings in China (Elmer, 2009). Therefore, any person moving from the United States to work in China should consider this unique element.
Teamwork is a very important element with regard to successful human resource management and having healthy workplace relationships. People work using teams in almost every aspect of the contemporary world. However, there some cultures that advocate for individual approach to work, while others promote a collective or a team approach (Moran & Harris, 2011). The application of teamwork depends on the collective nature of a certain culture.
For example, Asian countries have naturally collective cultures characterized by sharing of roles among team members. Responsibilities and rewards are distributed evenly in order to avoid conflicts that can easily arise if some individuals are singled out for less tasking and more rewarding roles (Williams et al., 2014). On the other hand, the situation is very different across mixed cultures where people are more open-minded and advocate for individualism.
European countries such as Germany and Italy are worldly known to have mixed workplace cultures. In these countries, employees within the workplace prefer to have clearly identified and defined individual roles that allow everyone to give their best output towards achieving various goals (Strutner, 2013). Although mixed cultures allow people to get assistance from their colleagues, the credit is often given to the individual that had taken up the responsibility in the first place.
This means that employees that travel to work in a country with a mixed workplace culture should always strive to give their best output in meeting their responsibilities, while at the same time understanding the importance of combined commitment towards providing any necessary support to their colleagues (Center for Creative Leadership, 2011).
Hierarchy is also a very important element of the contemporary workplace. According to management experts, the organization of people at different ranks in an administrative body helps to identify and define the power structure (Tulshyan, 2010). The application of this concept is very different across the world, especially in countries that have a mixed workplace culture. For example, in Germany employees place more value on titles within the workplace compared to Italy. The main reason for this is the fact that titles in Germany indicate the level of expertise that someone has in their respective fields (Williams et al., 2014).
The workplace culture in Germany applies a lot of professionalism and expertise, something that people from countries such as Italy often confuse for power. In Italy, titles apply as a sign of power and authority, regardless of the academic qualifications that someone holds. Research has established that managers from countries that have the same perception about workplace titles like in Italy, often feel inferior and unappreciated whenever they work with people from Germany (Tulshyan, 2010). In most countries, formal power is often considered as a gateway to automatic authority within the workplace even if some of the subordinates have a better academic profile.
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Another element that characterizes workplace cultures across the world is the concepts of analysis and taking action on the part of managers. The value that managers put on this concept varies from one country to another depending on the manner in which their workplace cultures apply. One of the elements that show the way different countries analyze and take action with regard to essential is the budgeting process.
Research has established that the process of creating and approving a budget in countries such as Russia and Brazil is often very long compared to countries such as the United States (Moran & Harris, 2011). Business managers that have worked with multinational entities from these countries often complain about their slow pace in complying with the terms of service. This challenge is often brought about by the lengthy nature of their budget process. Americans and some Europeans that work with people from these countries argue that this element makes them lazy and highly inconsistent. These attributes paint a very negative image of a businessperson when sealing a deal (Williams et al., 2014).
In their defense, financial officers from Brazil and other countries that take a longer period to prepare their budgets argue that the slow pace is often an intended effort that seeks to analyze the business situation in a more effective manner. They are more interested in coming up with a budget that reflects the trends exhibited in the economic markets at that particular time. On the other hand, budgets in the United States and countries such as Germany often apply the guideline within which an entity comes up with its obligations (Tulshyan, 2010). The budgeting process is often shorter in the United States.
Switzerland is often considered as one of the few countries in the world that have an ideal workplace cultures. Studies have established that organizational leaders from Switzerland have a higher level of competency with regard to global workplace cultures (Center for Creative Leadership, 2011). This phenomenon can be attributed to the country’s high level of cultural diversity, where people interact with a mixed environment as early as possible.
Generally, business people from this country have built a reputation for striking a good balance between all the essential elements and driving forces behind a venture before offering their commitment (Collier & Dollar, 2012). This notion has been emphasized through the high number of multinational companies based in the country, as well as their effective tax regulation strategies that have made its economy among the most stable ones in the world (Maznevski, 2014).
The effect of globalization on working around the world as a business consultant
Working as an international business consultant is a very challenging job that requires one to be open-minded, aggressive, and culturally competent (Brislim, 2008). Observing the right etiquette is of paramount importance because this kind of profession entails holding many meetings with prospective investors from different cultural setups. Globalization has changed the way business consultants dress in a bid to create a good impression on the people they work with. Achieving prolonged success in this kind of professions requires one to be well conversant with crucial elements of business meetings such as dress code, gifting, greetings, building relationships, and time management (Maznevski, 2014).
Globalization has influenced the manner in which fashion has evolved over the last couple of years. It is very common nowadays to find women wearing pants. A business consultant from the United States where dressing norms are provocative in nature should strive to learn the fashion trends acceptable in different countries. Working in countries such as China, Japan, and the Middle East requires men to observe dress codes such as buttoning shirts up to the collar.
Women are supposed to wear clothes that cover their knees and elbows (Brislim, 2008). Women are also discouraged from wearing pants. The reason for this is the fact that women in Asia and the Middle East command more respect and authority when they wear skirts. However, working in regions such as Europe and South America, women command more respect in the boardroom if they are fashion-forward by wearing stylish accessories and nice suits.
Having good business relationships is very important for consultants. Some of the key elements that one needs to observe include time and trust levels. Over the last couple of years, Dubai, China, and India have opened their markets to international business developers (Trask, 2013).
It is important to understand the importance of gaining the trust of the host. In the Middle East, the hosts often offer their guests coffee or water, which they are not expected to turn down. In Asia, the hosts often offer their guests intoxicants as a way of building trust. However, women who have little self-control are often advised not to take the intoxicants in large quantities in order to avoid behaving in a disrespectful manner. On the part of the guests, carrying a gift for the host is often encouraged. Hosts in the Middle East do not accept alcoholic gifts because of their religious teachings (Brislim, 2008).
Any gift brought to a business meeting in the Middle East should be handed over to the host at the end of the meeting in order to avoid it being interpreted for a bribe. This is different in the United States where gifts are given before a meeting starts. Business consultants travelling to Asia can take a bottle of American whiskey for their hosts (Trask, 2013). It is important to note that time is of the essence, thus the need to arrive on time for a meeting.
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