Understanding Global Cultures – Keeping Square Pegs Out of Round Holes

August 11, 2015

With the changes in technology and the world’s economics, HR technology selections and implementations are relying more and more on teams from various parts of the world. Dealing with Global Teams can be challenging. There are multiple areas where a global team can go off track during the process of the project. With a little pre-planning and good project management, you can foster a positive global team approach.

One of the most often overlooked feature of global working is the various work cultures. While there are multiple nuances, Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner outlined four basic cultures in Riding the Waves of Culture, which still represent the major cultures found around the world.

Most of the team culture will come from the country (or countries) in which your team members will be working; however, usually no one is just from one culture type.   There will be a singular culture which is dominant, but other items may come into play based on the person’s upbringing, previous locations of work, and any other experiences which have impacted a person’s work culture background.

Family Culture

Companies in these countries have a very personal and close face-to-face relationship. With the team there is one hierarchical leader. This work culture is usually intimate and caring, and tends to mimic the traditional home organization with one strong leader. Countries that exhibit these characteristics are France, Spain, Belgium, India, South Korea, Japan, and New Zealand.

Eiffel Tower Culture

Oddly does not include France. This is a more bureaucratic model that is highly structured. It is steep and symmetrical like the Eiffel Tower. Roles and functions are defined in advance, and the status of an employee is assigned by the role and not the person. Examples of countries who predominately use this culture are Germany, Hungary, Australia, and Venezuela.

Guided Missile Culture

This is a more impersonal and task oriented culture. It is often more team and project focused. The importance is on what the employee does and how well they contribute to the joint outcome. This group is big into shared problem solving. Countries who use this model are USA, Norway, Ireland and Finland.

Incubator Culture

Here, individual fulfillment is paramount and the organization can be viewed, oftentimes, as secondary. Focus is more on the nature of the work being performed. This culture stresses a more formal process. The people from this group have intense emotional commitment to the job and enjoy the process of creating and innovating. Examples include the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark.

As you can see, working with multiple cultures is not just for a global team, but for any team where the members may be from various countries or ethnic backgrounds. Knowing how to address each person’s cultural nuance is critical for a successful team. HRchitect, with its vast knowledge of global projects and change management, can assist you in your projects as you deal with various work cultures.