Management is the disciplined control of the activities and affairs of an organization. For a business entity that deals with personnel that come from races across the globe, their task becomes more sensitive. The managers have to be conversant with different cultures.
This paper seeks to outline the various nuggets that such an organization as Business Objects would have to focus on to accomplish a stress free time in managing the different cultures it is involved with. It also seeks to give advice on the communication strategies to be employed by the management of the same organization.
One aspect that is essential in management of diverse cultures is how to motivate the workers. In accomplishing this management has to identify the needs of the employees and most important those belonging to each and every one of them especially if they are not from the same culture. This helps them in understanding their behaviors and choosing the types of assignment to delegate to them.
It is important that they discover the motivators that would work for the various cultures. A motivator may be successful in one culture and totally flop in another, it is wrong to assume that they work the same across different and diverse cultures.
For example in the company Business Objects, they have branches in countries like Singapore, Japan, Germany and the United States. Most of these cultures are individualistic that means the workers value their self-actualization more. They care about advancing themselves more than doing it as a group. In that context, the management should ensure they have avenues for promotion within the company to motivate some of the workers. In countries that work on a community basis like Japan, another approach will have to be taken since they value growth on communal basis rather than personal achievement.
Another aspect is the power distance. Some cultures would rather leadership be concise and well laid out and portray control in its activities so they develop more confidence in the organization. On the other hand, others would appreciate management that makes consultations on various issues. They value the relationship they have with the management more, this provides the same confidence and motivation.
Some workers are not motivated by money, what keeps them on could be the job description. Every employee should be given duties that are matched to their abilities. This ensures efficiency and good spirit among workers among others. There is no job satisfaction like that derived from doing something one knows they are good at that definitely provides the much-needed motivation for completion of tasks. This coupled with good working environment and working hours that are not strenuous to the employees is definitely good recipe for a happy employee (Maed, 1998, p. 196)
Credibility and consistency on the part of the management is key in maintaining loyalty of the employees. When they pay bonuses to employees as incentives, they should be careful to keep the action up or they would be setting them up for disappointment. To the extremes, it may lead reduced motivation in work since they may get used to or attached to the packages so that they become more of a norm than an incentive.
Lastly and most importantly is this matter is money as a motivator. It is important that employees feel the worth of their service this is reflected in the pay. In Marslow’s hierarchy of need, this is not very highlighted but it is the basis on which all the levels mentioned get realized. The needs include physiological needs, safety and security, belonging and social needs, esteem needs and self-actualization in that order. To get through all of them financial stability is key or some amount of money for that matter.
The next major functional tool in intercultural management is communication. Communication is the basis for everything. It makes sure the management is on the same level of understanding of major issues like work ethics and values. Terms of employment in different cultures vary especially in developed and developing countries. Decentralization of authority can help in achieving this since that will mean the branches will be able to access their management through lesser channels. By so doing, they are able to feel as part of the company more.
Teamwork helps the organization save on having many levels of leadership which also means the salaries that is involved is saved. The employees feel at ease in the premises since they can report directly through fewer channels. This improves communication between the management and subordinates a big deal. It makes them feel like they are shaping their work right before them and not being used by the organization as a means to make money. By this the management is also able to nurture more talent and encourage utilization of these talent instead of having to pay big money to import specialists either from mother countries of the project or something. Since employees will be accountable to each other through teamwork, the organization can also include group bonuses. This will motivate the teams much better and may increase productivity. If there are several teams, there definitely will be competition, which translates to higher pays for everyone (Maed 1998, p. 206).
The next aspect of consideration is leadership in an organization that deals globally. According to Fairholm (1998), individuals look at leadership using five different criterions. Primarily is the scientific management theory, which explains that the management is only interested in establishing the strategies that it may use for delivery in the business. It is a traditional method but very basic and so still holds water for some managers.
The second theory is mainly concerned with perfection in what the organization. Excellence is key and the management directs its resources in making sure the people concerned in making the products or delivering services do that to the best of their ability. Here there is no compromise in the quality of work. The means and the ends are both scrutinized to maintain excellence. There is no room for mediocrity.
The third theory places importance on the nature of the relationship between the leader and the subordinate. There has to be a common vision between them that keeps the organization in check. For the management here it is more important that the leader and the follower have the same goals in mind so they work effectively. It further stresses that if vision is in place the management will not have to worry so much about controlling the subordinate. The leader’s role, however, is still emphasized. This is known as the values leadership perspective.
In a trust culture, which is the fourth theory, the focus is on the subordinate and how they relate with both the leadership and colleagues. Here trust is a fundamental quality that keeps everyone accountable to each other. This fosters team spirit and the spirit of sharing. Delegation of duties becomes the leadership’s joy since there is a sense of mutual trust between them. The spotlight is on the led (Fairholm,2004).
The last perspective is very spiritual in nature and it entails the management being aware that the spiritual being of the led is what they interact with. In that the personal lives of the followers relates very closely with what the leadership interacts with at the workplace. In this theory, emphasis is laid in the core of the person, the self drive the acceptance and how their attributes are what the leadership seeks to guide. It involves the management realizing that they deal with the spiritual qualities of a being coupled with intellect. It further expounds that, these ‘spirits’ seek and environment that they work and have freedom to build themselves while at it. It is also known as the whole soul perspective.
With the knowledge of the perspectives, Business Objects can apply one of the five or even merge two or three. They can also choose to experiment and start from the lowest level to the highest order.
Monsieur Liataud can employ the formal means of communication in which the information flows through the official structure of the organization. This means any piece of document released from the headquarters in France goes through all the arms of leadership, the management, the assistants and maybe. The information is also distributed in the global centers through the same channels. This type of information is in 3 categories: downward, upward and horizontal communication. Downward communication is basically instructions on what to do and how to do them, they are guidelines. it is also a means by which the management passes on reviews on previous work done. Managers and their assistants operate these communication lines, they could also delegate for a big company like Business Objects.
Upward communication is the information that flows upwards in the channels. It is the means by which employees pass on reports and information that may be needed by another department for example if a branch in Japan needs some information from the branch in Germany, these would be the channels to use. Departments would also upload work and get suggestions and improvements through this channel. New ideas sprouted are also aired this way and progress is updated this way too.
Horizontal tem information is how information flows within departments and it fosters cooperation. It could be used in a system that mainly uses teamwork in production. The formal channels facilitate the passing of information without the involvement of the management directly. This way they spend their time on matters that deserve the extra attention.
In passing of information formally, there are two types of information networks involved: the centralized and the decentralized. In centralized networks, information revolves around one person or source. Different departments or people do not access the information at the same rate. In decentralized networks, almost all departments have access and no one has monopoly of information, information is free for all and flows in the same manner. Everyone has similar responsibility in making sure information is passed on. It is important that any organization has a combination of both networks since there is information that everyone needs to know and that which only management needs to know.
Informal information is that which don’t need be passed down or up the channels. The structures used to communicate this information are those deviated from the formal structure of communication. The channels are anything but formal, they are based on friendship. An example is the grapevine. It is a secret way of passing on information or even getting it. It is hearsay, information with no backing. They are mostly told by word of mouth and are dynamic in nature. It is very easy to get information across through this channel because it is very rapid and efficient. It crosses any boundaries set by the organization that is how diverse it is.
Grapevine also could inform the management on information they would otherwise have not known. On the other hand, grapevine could be dangerous based on the following facts. The level of inaccuracy in the information conveyed is humongous. It involves exaggeration of the interesting information and exclusion of some major details so it is never the gospel truth.According to Kummer and Carstens ( 2003, slide 29) ,70% of all communication that takes place in the company takes place as grapevine. They go on to further explain that the approximate rates of accuracy are 75-90%. They also indicate that the rumor part might alter the whole meaning intended. It is also shockingly true that people spend more time talking about individuals in the organization(80%) than the company itself(20%).
Some of the positive aspects that have been tabled is that they serve a social function, it is a way they release their stresses to some point. They use it as an avenue to air out issues on pending projects or matters of importance to them. This is also an indication for the management that the other systems of communication might be faulty hence the use of Grapevine. It is also an avenue through whish then organization can come up with a culture that is familiar to all employees. The most important of all advantages is that information can be passed very quickly in the most informal of ways.
For the management of business objects to apply grapevine the organization has to be well built with functioning structures of communication so the use of grapevine does not lead to distortion of major facts. It is even more important that Monsieur Liataud is extra cautious when dealing with multiple cultures because misunderstandings are prone to occurs far much easier. They can however use it to monitor happenings in the firm. They can also use it pass on new ideas to get reactions in an informal manner, as a feasibility test of some kind.
In conclusion, for anyone to succeed in managing cultural diversity they have to consider four factors while at it: teamwork, leadership, communication and motivation. In the aspect of communication, both formal and informal methods should be incorporated. One should remember that grapevine should not be terminated from any organization. What such a management should do instead is focus their energies in finding out ways it would work for the organization.
Fairholm, G. W., 1998. Perspectives on leadership: from the science of management to its spiritual . United States of America: Greenwood publishing Group. Web.
Fairholm, M. R., 2004. Different Perspectives on the Practice of leadership. Public Administration Review 64(5). 577-590. Web.
Kummer, N. & Carstens, C., 2003. Formal and informal channels of communication. Web.
Maed R.,1998. International management: cross-cultural dimensions. Blackwell publishing, United Kingdom.Web.