Why Cross Cultural Training is Important in Global Teams: A Book Review

How to overcome cultural differences when managing offshore or nearshore teams’ highlights the importance that needs to be placed on cultural training for employees when they work in collaboration with offshore teams. This is the fourth e-book in a series of e-books, which will be combined as a print version.

In so many global mergers and collaborations, issues like costs, cost cutting, work related training are given priority and often a very crucial aspect ignored completely or not given enough attention. When two cultures meet do they form a lasting marriage or do they live together in disharmony? This issue is expertly tackled by the authors of this book with apt real life examples and references. Businessmen, consultants, head hunters, collaborators, facilitators and trainers, all well versed with thinking styles and cultures of different countries come together here to narrate their experiences in building bridges between people of different countries to enable effective work related communication and ultimately reach work goals. There's a lot to learn from their rich narratives as they describe the way the Dutch, Russians, Japanese, Arabs and Indians think about learning and working.

Bert Van Hijfte, a Dutch consultant, has worked to build connections between international teams for the last two decades. He describes how the need to bridge culture gaps started arising in mid-nineties with the changing topography of the information technology industry and emergence of new players. Bert explains Geert Hofstede’s ‘Dimensions of Culture’ and how they play into interactions between people belonging to different cultures. Gayle Cotton’s write up though succinct includes sharp, common sense pointers which can serve as a quick and intelligent summary to read before dealing with international clients.

Hugo Messer's comparison of outsourcing to a factory that produces to specifications is so apt and truly more often than not, that’s how a service provider is perceived. He emphasizes the need for empathy at different levels and expertly points out the gap in understanding between the business team and the offshore technical team. When both these teams are in the same location in the same country they have numerous meetings and discussions to make sure they stay on the same page. How do you ensure the same level of understanding exists between international teams when they are separated by distance and culture? Add to the mix the time and budget constraints that often are a critical consideration in business and technology projects and the situation becomes even more challenging.

Jennifer Kumar, an American working in India as a cross cultural trainer and coach recounts her experiences in connecting with an alien culture and the style she adopts while building the bond. Her own words and behaviors while training in India, that are different from the same if she were training in the U.S. and the reasons for those differences. How she has figured out better techniques to train/ facilitate after a keen observation of her pupils' strengths and weaknesses. Having helped innumerable people to feel at ease and achieve success in their dealings in a foreign country, Jennifer's narrative is rich with lessons learnt through varied experiences.

Rajiv Mathew elucidates the dos and don’ts in specific countries. Some of the most intriguing advice he gives is regarding the 'business card etiquette’, which describes in detail how business cards should be handled in certain countries. His talk is truly an eye opener as it displays experiential knowledge of dealing with people in different countries.

Ged Roberts, a British consultant working in The Netherlands compares Indian and Dutch people and explains what could happen when an Indian service provider meets Dutch bluntness for the first time. Ways of giving and receiving feedback are diametrically opposite in the two cultures. Whereas Indians have a hard time saying ‘No’, the Dutch are very direct and candid. Despite having the best intentions, these two cultures may clash and end up building walls rather than bridges if they do not proceed with caution and understanding.

Nataly Veremeeva, born in the Soviet Union and now a resident of Ukraine, highlights how the 'foreigner' is viewed in that part of the world, the risks that Western companies face while conducting business with a service provider in Ukraine and how to mitigate those risks. She explains the attitudes of the Ukrainian people and stresses the importance of explaining business objectives, vision and budget constraints to the development team.

The fact that so many intelligent and helpful perspectives are found in one place makes this a very enlightening read for anyone who interacts with people of different countries or plans to do so. This book is bound to change the outlook of any professional who has any kind of international interaction, in a very positive way.

Book reviewer Author Urvashi Pande is a freelance writer based in the United States. Having pursued a career in Finance for 10+ years, she also enjoys writing for fun and for work. Contact Urvashi though the Authentic Journeys contact page.
Urvashi has written Mission R2I and Are you a Squirrel or a Crab? previously on Authentic Journeys.   


The Kindle ebook How to overcome cultural differences when managing offshore or nearshore teams is available for free download here

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