New Technologies Bring Us Closer, But Still We Need to be Sensitive to Global Norms and Workplace Expectations in 2022

Most recently I find myself interacting with teams in Finland, the Middle East, the EU, the UK, and of course the U.S. and South Korea.

For me it’s “not my first rodeo,” and it truly varies on the level of global experience among those I am working with.

I feel today this is actually more challenging with the common acceptance of MS Team, Zoom, or WhatsApp video conferencing that on one level brings us closer — but it also seems at times the convenience, efficiency, and directness of a quick WhatsApp, Zoom, or MS Team can negate a need to step back and recognize the many different cultural and business norms.

In some regions, communications need to be less direct and non-confrontational to gain deeper insights into any challenges and be open to alternative approaches and work-throughs.

That said, in other regions, we need to take a direct and fact-based approach. More so, in some interactions, for example, there is an expectation to keep the conversations to strictly business and the task at hand.

I’d add we need to be sensitive to the level of global experience among teams.

Some teams are well schooled in an international approach while others, especially under stress, rely on their time-proven local business approaches and norms.

In the latter case, local teams can be very skilled in managing and executing projects, but it can be very challenging when working with teams who may or may not understand respective local norms and procedures. This ranges from one side pressing a team for action when the other side’s delays might be due to local holidays, workload, internal team reviews, or multiple approval steps for signing off on NDAs, LOIs, and Agreements.

To summarize, the best model is to constantly be aware of the differences and be sensitive to what may be unfolding — spoken and unspoken. Look to gain deeper insights into any challenges and be open to alternative approaches and work-throughs.

Bottom line —  look to be cross-culturally effective — not necessarily Zoom-like pragmatic and efficient.

Don Southerton
Don Southerton is the Founder and CEO of Bridging Culture Worldwide.

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