Having worked with intercultural integration in the workplace for decades,
Danish consulting firm Human House talks to
Scan Magazine about potential misunderstandings between cultures.
Interestingly, the consultants maintain that even Translate
within the Nordic countries, our differences can cause slight hiccups.
How far ahead do we need to plan? What makes a strong leader?
Is the main purpose of communication to be efficient or polite? Innately,
different cultures will have different answers to these questions, Translate
causing potential misunderstandings in a multicultural workplace.
Through consulting, courses and global management development,
Human House helps cross-cultural management boards and leaders working with and in different
cultures to understand and turn potential difficulties into strengths.
“What you see is only ten per cent: the language, clothes and posture, it’s the tip of the iceberg.
The other 90 per cent you can’t see,” explains consultant Maj Emmertsen.
“It’s the norms and values that people have been taught throughout
their lives that are most likely to cause difficulties when working across cultures.
Most people will be fine with dressing a bit differently,
but when it goes deeper and affects your cultural values, conflicts can arise.”
When strength is seen as weakness
In a recent job, Emmertsen worked with a Danish leader who was heading up a production project in Poland.
The manager had a management style typical of successful Danish leaders, seeking to create consensus through a flat,
inclusive management structure. But before long,
his employees began to display a lack of respect towards him;
they saw his consensus-seeking leadership as a sign of weakness.
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