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Corporate Culture & Communication in the Workplace Essay

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Updated: Jul 7th, 2021

Nature and Perception of Culture

Culture is an intrinsic and inseparable element of one’s existence, yet defining it as a phenomenon may spawn certain difficulties. The notion of culture has undergone numerous reiterations in different areas of studies, yet most of these interpretations remain quite homogenous. Similarly, the perception of culture also varies, yet, unlike its definition, its variability hinges on a personal interpretation. Since the concept of culture is typically used to describe groups and, therefore, represents the collective set of ideas and philosophies, its individual perception varies significantly.

Nevertheless, claiming that the connection between an individual and the notion of culture is tenuous would be wrong. Similarly, it would be erroneous to believe that the influence that cultural principles and knowledge have on an individual is one-sided. Instead, the impact that culture produces on community members is reciprocal, with people shaping it and introducing new ideas to it as they acquire new knowledge and experience. The process of cultural evolution and culture fusion has become especially noticeable with the rise in the levels of multiculturalism (Mousa & Alas 2016).

Although the specified phenomenon is not akin to every community, the rates of diversity have grown considerably, thus allowing cultural knowledge to transcend ethnic and geographical boundaries. At this point, one should mention the difference between culture as it pertains to a particular community and the notion of organisational culture. Ideally, the phenomenon of organisational culture should reconcile differences in cultural perspectives in individuals working in the same environment (Rijal, 2016). The specified goal includes differences in perception of the notion and incongruences between team members’ cultures as a phenomenon implying group characteristics and sets of beliefs.

Since the process of learning to accept organisational values and reconcile them, with one’s personal convictions and beliefs implies a significant effort, the process of workplace socialisation is critical. For this reason, managing and navigating it should become one of the critical goals of a team leader so that team members could reconcile their differences and accept corporate values (Iorgulescu & Marcu, 2015). Given the comparative weakness of the impact that the corporate culture produces on decision-making compared to the national one, the choice of a leadership style and strategy is crucial.

To ensure that the influence of the organisational culture extends to the decision-making process in the workplace, one should consider enhancing clarity and transparency within the target setting. Once honesty and openness become the cornerstones for corporate communication and decision-making, employees are likely to accept the proposed behaviours and values (Moslehpour, Van Kien, Bilgicli, & Van Nguyen, 2016). In addition, introducing a stakeholder-focused corporate policy will help staff members to realise that they are valued in the organisation (Ott & Xiao, 2017). Thus, one will create a setting in which staff members uphold corporate standards and culture (Ott & Xiao, 2017). With the application of the strategies described above, intercultural relationships within groups will affect people in a positive way, enabling them to learn about other cultures and the methods of establishing a proper intercultural dialogue.

Hofstede: The Lost Dimensions

Exploring differences between cultures is a gateway to keeping the multicultural dialogue consistent and managing cross-cultural conflicts effectively. The latter is an inevitable and even crucial part of multicultural communication since, when addressed objectively, it provides important lessons for all participants involved in the communication (Tran, Admiraal, & Saab, 2017). Therefore, integrating the outcomes of cross-cultural studies into the management of diversity in the workplace and controlling the quality of intercultural relationships is essential. Unless intercultural relationships are managed well in a workplace setting, the environment may become not only hostile but also toxic to the representatives of cultural minorities. Moreover, the specified setting is likely to prevent the integration of corporate values, leading to a rapid deterioration of workplace relationships.

In order to study the workplace culture and introduce appropriate changes to it, one should consider the framework that allows scrutinising the subject matter from different perspectives. The application of Hofstede’s four dimensions is very useful in detecting problematic aspects of workplace relationships and managing related concerns (Bedi, 2016). Implying the assessment of intercultural relationships based on five dimensions, the Hofstede Model is not entirely flawless, yet it still provides a rather profound insight into intercultural workplace relationships. Therefore, it needs to be integrated into the workplace setting in order to manage culture-related issues.

The addition of the fifth and sixth dimensions to Hofstede’s Model might seem as redundant, yet it represents a crucial change in the paradigm of analysing relationships in the workplace. With the incorporation of Confucian Dynamism and the juxtaposition of the dimension, opportunities for employees to compromise between corporate values and their cultural characteristics (Van Berkel, Ingold, McGurk, Boselie, & Bredgaard, 2017). Furthermore, regulating the extent to which individuals are gratified for their accomplishments in the company setting, is essential for professional growth (Molose, Goldman, & Thomas, 2018). Thus, Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions framework plants the chances for reconciliation between the representatives of the cultures that are alien or opposite of each other, which is essential in the workplace context.

One of the most common critiques of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions is that research reduces them to six, which is a rather small number. Thus, there is a probability of omitting an important factor that may shape intercultural relationships in a very powerful way (Lee, Park, & Ban, 2016). However, the specified problem can be addressed by focusing on the similarities in the behaviours of employees belonging to different cultural backgrounds (Tran et al., 2017). Conflicts, in turn, can be managed by applying a framework based on critical thinking and rational analysis.

Nevertheless, the proposed approach does not exclude employees’ emotions from the assessment; instead, it rationalises them, helping staff members to develop emotional intelligence and use the acquired skills to reach a compromise. Thus, the approach suggested by Hofstede should be interpreted as the cornerstone of creating effective workplace relationships in a multicultural team (Lee et al., 2016). With the addition of the fifth and sixth dimensions to the analysis, successful workplace cooperation was enabled.

Facing Resistance during Cultural Change

Introducing change is always difficult since it requires people to make a significant effort in shaping their values and rethinking their position concerning intercultural communication. Therefore, a manager has to apply an elaborate strategy for handling the reluctance that employees are very likely to display. When confronted with the staff’s unwillingness to accept corporate values and integrate them into their system of cultural beliefs, a leader should consider several key aspects of the process (Salam & Alghamdi, 2016). These include the plausibility of change, the cultural issues that may emerge because of it, and the methods of managing the rise in resistance among employees (Balazs, Kuchinka, Mantz, & Bracken, 2017). By transferring the local knowledge within the setting of an organisation and enhancing synergy levels within it, a leader can encourage employees to see the corporate change as an opportunity to grow personally and professionally.

The notion of cultural synergy is not new, and it has warranted an important place in the range of ideas and values that need to be promoted in an organisational setting. The very notion of synergy applied to the workplace setting suggests the transitioning toward a homogenous set of cultural values and the creation of standards that are mostly uniform (Shen et al., 2018). Ideally, the introduction of synergy should not erase the individual cultures of each participant and, instead, allow employees to express the personal qualities that contribute to organisational development (Salam & Alghamdi, 2016). Thus, introducing workplace standards based on the idea of synergy and encouraging people to consider the notions lying outside of their personal philosophy will lead to noticeable improvements in the functioning of the team.

In order to assist staff members in their transfer from a narrow system of beliefs to a wider one, a manager should implement incremental change in the workplace environment. The gradual transfer to a different mode of thinking will allow employees to reconcile a new approach toward decision-making and ethical judgements with their personal ones (Goksoy, 2015). As a result, a lesser degree of reluctance will be observed.

Apart from the predictability of change and its alignment with employees’ beliefs, a manager also has to consider whether the transfer to a different communicational approach should be regarded as remedial or developmental. The two categories in question imply two different parameters of change management, particularly, the velocity and organisation thereof (Jalagat, 2016). Since both a moderate pace and a profound impact on the cultural perception of employees are required, a combination of the two frameworks will have to be used.

Resistance during cultural change is inevitable in any workplace setting, yet, with careful guidance and sensitive leadership, one can minimise the negative outcomes of the specified phenomenon and advance the corporate culture. For this purpose, one should consider utilising various media for transferring local knowledge across an organisation and incorporating the tools for building synergy within a team. The proposed approaches will encourage collaboration and invite team members to be more understanding of the needs of their co-workers.

Keeping the Intercultural Dialogue Consistent

The notion of cross-cultural communication, especially in the setting that involves more than two cultures, might seem so complicated that it would appear to be impossible. However, on closer look, the intercultural dialogue can be achieved with the right balance of compromise, willingness to accept change, and focus on the common goals (Pu, Tang, & Jamaluddin, 2017). For this purpose, educating team members about the importance of using proper verbal and nonverbal language is critical since culture-specific interpretations of specific communication choices may lead to disastrous outcomes.

Communication-related education should be the focus of teams that require cross-cultural education since misinterpretation of specific elements of one’s culture may lead to misunderstandings and even conflicts. For this purpose, the principles of cultural competence should be applied (Hart & Mareno, 2016). It is important to teach staff members to control their emotions and focus on resolving the issue that caused a confrontation in the first place. The strategy mentioned above in no way implies that emotions of staff members should be dismissed as bearing no relevance. Instead, it is crucial to convey to employees that their emotional well-being is a company’s priority, which is why they are provided with the tools for reducing the pressure of cross-cultural communication.

Furthermore, staff members need to be made aware of the critical concepts that are applicable to particular cultures, such as different cultural interpretations of particular gestures or ambiguities associated with specific expressions. Staff members have to receive an education that will help them to develop emotional intelligence and, thus approach the situations that can be described as strenuous and emotionally challenging (Bashir, 2017). Herein lies the importance of teaching team, members about emotional intelligence as an essential component of successful intercultural communication. However, the notion of emotional intelligence should not be represented as a solitary concept that can assist employees in understanding each other in the organisational setting (Aziz, Mahadi, & Baskaran, 2017). Instead, the notion of soft skills as a collection of emotional intelligence abilities and the use of social intelligence are to be promoted (David & Katz, 2016). The suggested approach toward addressing possible cross-cultural conflicts and misunderstandings will allow employees to build resilience toward confrontations in the workplace caused by miscommunication and approach the described concerns objectively.

By engaging team members in the process of continuous learning about other culture sand tactful attitudes toward the use and perception of communication, including its verbal and nonverbal elements, one can avoid language- and culture-related misconceptions and the ensuing conflicts in the workplace. Along with intensive learning processes aimed at educating staff members about other cultures, it is also necessary to focus on the necessity to communicate directly and be aware of possible cross-cultural miscommunication. Thus, conflicts that are likely to occur due to gaps in participants’ knowledge of the language and culture of their interlocutors will be reduced to a minimum and resolved productively. A rise in the culture awareness and general communication skills that involve mindfulness, tactfulness, and attention to one’s communication needs, will occur.

Managing a Conflict with the help of a Constructive Discussion and Analysis

No matter what avoidance techniques an organisation may deploy to manage cases of cross-cultural conflicts, misconceptions will occur in the environment that can be described as diverse. Multicultural settings are prone to confrontations among team members due to the incongruences in their cultural values, the perception of interpersonal relationships, and other aspects of workplace communication (Bao, Zhu, Hu, & Cui, 2016). Therefore, understanding the nature of the conflict, the styles that its participants typically use, and the methods of addressing a confrontation in the workplace, are required. To encourage progress, one should select an approach that helps the participants to reconcile their differences and focus on locating the solution to a particular work-related problem.

The adoption of the win-win framework and the focus on mindfulness should remain the key priorities when handling a workplace confrontation. The objective of the process is to resolve a work-related issue and reduce the levels of stress that employees experience. Therefore, it is reasonable to select model that allows all parties to benefit. Mindfulness, in turn, will create premises for building oft skills. The win-win framework, in turn, will provide the perfect opportunity for achieving the described goal since it will not distract staff members from the analysis (Abas, Otto, & Ramayah, 2018). The application of a win-lose approach, in turn, may divide a team and make them prioritise their personal success rather than the management of workplace issues (Wanyonyi, Kimani, & Amuhaya, 2015). Thus, the win-win framework is a perfect addition to the conflict management process.

It is also important to encourage employees to see possible sources of misconceptions not from the viewpoint of their own culture, but from the perspective of the one of their interlocutor. The shift in the framing and the change in the interpretation will help employees to recognise the initial message and continue the conversation without further hindrances (Al-jawazneh, 2015). At the same time, a manager should highly encourage team members to clarify the issues that they may have misunderstood during the communication process to ensure that the participants are fully aware of their roles, responsibilities, and the cooperation process (Leffel, Hallam, & Darling, 2016). The suggested technique may take a significant amount of time to address misunderstandings, yet it will reduce the threat of personal confrontations, which will become even more time-consuming in the long term.

The strategy that helps team members to approach a particular work-related concern during a conflict rather than taking conflict management personally will provide a chance to encourage team members to experience personal and professional growth. The combination of conflict management techniques described above is expected to boost the participants’ self-esteem and willingness to gain new skills. Therefore, the integration of tools for negotiation, mediation, and use of mindfulness can be interpreted as investing in the professional training of employees. By focusing on building their communication skills and solving complex workplace issues, staff members will develop the attitudes and behaviours that will help them to work in groups without experiencing much pressure or stress.

References

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