Working in a Foreign Country: Education is Key - Igor Poza

A look into creating the best management for global teams part 2 of 4

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Imagine: you’ve finally proven yourself in your company and your boss asks you to move to a foreign office. This notion can bring up a lot of emotions. For one, it is flattering to be the employee who was trusted enough to go. On the other hand, moving offices to a country in which you have never been before can be very intimidating. Moving to another country can be anxiety provoking in terms of cultural shock and clashes, but in a professional setting even more so.

However, the opportunity to work in a place in which you have never experienced is a great one; if approached with curiosity and empathy, you will come out with great cultural knowledge and a more holistic approach to business. Most importantly, you will gain strategic agility and managerial courage boosted by all of the rich and diverse interactions, both business and human, that you experience along your way.

Before you land in your ‘new home’ being sensitized to the cultural differences and the specificities regarding social behavior and communication in the work environment is crucial so as to acquire immediate Team acceptance and trust.

There are proactive steps you can take to prepare yourself, one of which, Valerie Bath of Forbes discussed in her article:

“One of the ways to immerse yourself in a foreign culture before ever setting foot in a particular new market or having your first interaction with a native of that culture is to take a cultural competency course, which is one of my company’s offerings. If time constraints prevent taking a course, there are resources you can find online that will help you broadly understand which cultures are more hierarchical as opposed to egalitarian, relationship-oriented or task-oriented, and which emphasize a team/collective psychology in business dynamics versus an individualistic mindset. For instance, there are multiple-choice questionnaires that enable one to compare his/her own cultural imprint and psychology to the general imprint of other cultures. Discovery of such knowledge allows an individual to become more sensitive to the culturally ingrained behaviors of others and adjust his/her own behaviors to engage in successful discourse.

“Many cultures are innately relationship-oriented in business. They have their trusted suppliers, vendors and advisors, which can make permeating that veil to build a new relationship quite challenging. However, establishing rapport with someone from a culture that prefers to engage repeatedly with long-time, highly trusted associates is a much less daunting process when one has prepared in advance to successfully navigate the business landscape of that particular culture.”

Education is key. You are the stranger, so you are the one who has to put in the work to adjust to their cultural norms. People will notice the efforts you are putting in to integrate into their culture and appreciate them. This in turn will lead to better relationships with your coworkers and optimize your success as a foreign-worker.

About Igor Poza: Igor is a Global Brand and Team builder in Luxury Leather Goods and Cosmetics with 25+ years of comprehensive experience, both in headquarters and subsidiaries of Multi-billion Fortune 500, Family owned businesses and private equity owned startups. He has expertise in multi-channel retail and multicultural management. His cultural intelligence allows him to bring people together and transform businesses. He currently serves as the Chief Commercial Officer at Mansur Gavriel.