To end a recent session on US cross-culture training for virtual teams, we discussed differences between the US and Indian work cultures. Below are some of the differences the participants noted between the cultures:
American culture and Indian cultures are different when it comes to:
- Time management. Americans prefer things in a linear way.
- Personal & Professional Small Talk - acceptable topics of discussion are different in professional settings in the US and in India.
- Starting "on time" (For a 9 o'clock meeting, 9:15 is too late to start with Americans, but starting as late as 9:30 is more acceptable for Indians.)
- Showing their feelings at work. Americans are better at hiding their feelings at work. Americans are somewhat more apt at giving and accepting 'constructive criticism.' Indians, on the other hand, may avoid giving 'constructive criticism.' Many cite the reason for this as not being able to not take it personally. Many Indians have told me they are surprised when they see Americans give each other constructive criticism or project related feedback one day, but act normal or like 'nothing ever happened' the next day.
- Asking for reasons. "Why you" questions should be avoided with Americans.
- Gestures and expressions. Some that are acceptable in India may be offensive in the US., and some that are acceptable in the U.S. may be offensive in India.
- Quality control. Lack of quality is a serious flaw in the U.S., where as in India it's seen in a more lenient light
- Being on time. Americans are strict and give more value to punctuality.
- Asking questions. Americans prefer people to ask questions. Indians may find asking questions rude.
- Feedback & Updates: Americans prefer a hands-off management style, so it's up to the 'subordinate' to keep his/her manager updated. However, in India, managers have more top-down control and because of this it would be considered rude or even disrespectful for the subordinate to give updates to the manager without the manager coming to the subordinate and asking for the updates. Also, managers in India tend to be in more constant contact with subordinates than in the U.S.
Jennifer Kumar is the Managing Director and facilitator for US cross-cultural trainings that have been attended by over 2,000 professionals in India. Learn more about the US cross-cultural training for virtual teams or contact us for for training options for your dispersed and offshore teams today.
When to apologize to an American
Managing Meetings with American Clients
How Indians View Time