Learn How to Overcome Cross-Cultural Differences
Outsourcing is the choice of those seeking expertise while trying to cut costs. In fact, 70% of companies choose outsourcing to save costs. The outsourcing model does have a lot of benefits. But there is still room for error. Wondering, why? Cross-cultural differences can cause confusion.
Take it from us, they can be a huge challenge for both the client and the outsourcing service provider. The thing is that every nation has its own unique cultural norms and backgrounds. They influence the corporate culture and policies, and even more.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of the most common cross-cultural aspects of outsourcing.
Why Outsourcing Runs Into Problems
A lot of companies hunt for cheap and reliable IT stuff. We know that as a rule, they are looking for outsourced IT services in different countries. But few of them expect to face cross-cultural problems. Yet, still, they’re very common.
Most cross-cultural challenges are due to differences in national cultures. As a result, outsourcing relationships fail. Fret not, the solution is nearby. Moreover, because you will know the reason why it happened, you can more easily outsource IT services in the future.
This article covers all the essentials of what may affect your outsourcing, so read on.
1. Corporate Culture Differences
Corporate culture can be the key to bringing employees together with a shared idea. Yet, each company has its own etiquette. Sometimes it’s a tough one to unpack. It’s helpful to know a few aspects before collaboration. These include how employees embrace change, communicate with each other, and work. For example, some companies take a results-oriented approach. While others care about staff satisfaction.
How might this affect my outsourcing relationship? – you may ask. Let’s see.
Some employees work without supervision from above. Others need strict instructions. It’s only the managers who can handle this situation.
Here’s another example. One company gets questions answered faster because of no strict management. Another company has an established decision-making process that takes time. Being able to agree on these specifics, thus, is a core skill for both teams.
We should realise one thing. Due to economic globalisation, people around the world have to work across cultural and language barriers. Is your situation the same? In this case, it’s not enough to want to understand the other side. You need something more. Yes, you can learn through experience. Still, it doesn’t hurt to do cultural awareness training, for example. It covers things like country-specific business style, meeting style, general culture awareness, etc. This should help.
2. Differences in National Cultures
National culture can influence communication, negotiation, decision-making, and work organisation. Keep this in mind when working with experts from outside. In companies in the Middle East, for example, the decision-maker is the head of the company. This is due to the respect for the elderly typical of this culture.
In such a case, it is unlikely that a middle manager would be responsible for outsourced tasks. As a result, Western companies may encounter quite different types of national culture. This does not always lead to a failed relationship. Still, a miscommunication may occur.
Before you jump right into work, find out how the other country’s society is organised to avoid communication pitfalls. That’s right, you need to do a bit of research!
3. Cross-Cultural Communication Skills of Key Players
Team leaders usually handle communication between team members of different nationalities and cultures. Yet, the cross-cultural communication skills of these key players can also vary. This leads to another communication hiccup. The good news is that you can take advantage of this situation. How is that? You need to embrace cross-cultural communication skills by adapting to other countries’ cultures, as well as adopting their style of communication.
It can happen, one of the key players focuses on getting things done. While the other side is more attentive to the workflow. You can avoid misunderstandings using shared values and compromise.
Let’s start by telling you a secret. Religion can also influence outsourcing relationships. First of all, this refers to religious holidays. In some cases, they can influence the working hours and days off.
In the Middle Eastern countries, during religious holidays, the team’s productivity may decrease. The work schedule may also change. In case you have any agreements and deadlines, such changes can be a problem. If you want to avoid such situations, try to discuss all aspects of the work with the other side in advance.
5. Language Barrier(s)
To overcome this obstacle, start by listening to the other side. What language does it prefer? Does it suit you? Choosing the one language to communicate in, is a great way to go. But what if there is a gap in knowledge? The good thing is that, in business, English is spoken widely. No matter how proficient you are in English, knowing the basics is half the battle. By using a simple, yet versatile and pre-agreed language, you can avoid misunderstanding.
You should keep in mind that every time your employee picks up the phone, he or she is interacting with a different culture on the other side. Cut the distance between the two. For example, you can make a list of work-related terms.
Yet, when the language barrier is a tough one to overcome, you can hire an interpreter. It’s your job to find a convenient way for two companies to be on the same page when communicating on a regular basis.
As you have realised, cross-cultural differences can be tricky when outsourcing. Keep in mind, that national culture affects many aspects of work. These include the communication style of key players and even their work attitude. It’s safe to say that Western and Eastern types of cultures are opposite in some areas. Sometimes this can lead to misunderstandings. Moreover, some people involved in cross-cultural communication may have never been abroad. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? Can you imagine how hard it is for them to communicate with foreigners?
And yet, things are not so bad after all. First, you have to consider all the cultural aspects before signing a contract. And then try to find common ground in all areas of concern. By doing so, you will be able to keep things running smoothly.
For further tips and information, you can take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Communication Skills and our Communication Skills YouTube Channel. Also, check out our award-winning blog to see more Communication Skills tips and articles.