Bill has been transferred from his Houston’s HQ to the Indian subsidiary of his organization. From the start, he showed some confidence about his ability to lead his Indian team: prior to his transfer, he met some of them at some important meetings at the HQ. Bill was impressed by the depth of their technical expertise. Three months after his arrival in India, Bill can hardly reconnect the Indians he met in the USA with them at work in their own environment: Bill gets confused: they do not seem to work in accordance with the company values. They make numerous mistakes when dealing with their team and lack the necessary leadership skills to empower them to develop more productive work practices.
Many organizations trust their achievers to perform abroad without analyzing their needs for adjustment.
Key decision makers believe that performers in one setting are likely to make significant achievement abroad because their company has strong values that create a global common meaning as well as global common ways of doing things.
Reality proves otherwise. Corporate values can still be interpreted on the basis of different beliefs. For example, the respect for the clients, for the employees or even for the environment often appear in a company set of values. This respect may mean different things depending of the cultural background of people who interact.
In a multicultural work setting where the respect for the employee is a value, it may be that a leader's definition of respect be in total dissonance with that of some of his team members?
Many more examples could be used to prove that company values are not sufficient to create common meaning and ways of doing this.
As a result, a performing abroad cannot be assumed when transferring a talent. This holds even if language is not a barrier.
Our clients raised the following questions when they realized that their company values would not reduce the cultural differences between their diverse staff...
What sort of preparation does an employee need when assigned in a foreign subsidiary?
Is there any other people in the foreign subsidiary that needs an intercultural preparation? What sort of
Would a national from a foreign origin be suitable to lead a subsidiary in his/her country of origin?
At Performance Across Borders we know that an adequate intercultural preparation significantly reduces the risk of transferring talent abroad. This enables to reduce the learning curve and makes transferred employees faster effective and efficient in their new work environment.
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