Using Company Culture Software to Bridge Global Cultural Differences
Company Culture Isn’t One-Size Fits all — What Does That Mean For You?
If you work in France, this year kicked off with quite a stress-buster: you now have a legally-protected “right to disconnect” and not answer emails or calls after business hours… But what if you’re an American worker trying to get in touch with someone from your organization’s French division?
This is just a small example of how global culture differences can impact an organization’s day-to-day operations. But whether we’re talking about how global branches communicate or how individual employees with different backgrounds collaborate, company culture software can help resolve some of these challenges. After all, when employees, managers, and leaders all have unique personalities and cultural backgrounds, measuring culture metrics can help us accurately assess what is happening in a company’s culture and how to improve it.
Here are three ways people analytics and culture software can help:
Identify potential cultural miscommunications
Communication is an important culture quality that can make or break the effectiveness of a global team. While it’s easy to provide tools and set up processes that help employees communicate, facilitating effective interpersonal communication and team-building is a lot more nuanced. According to the Red Shoe Movement, a career and leadership development program provider for Latina employees, many cultural differences in the workplace encompass how much people share about themselves. What in one culture is appropriate relationship-building might, in another culture, come off as over-sharing or a lack of humility.
That’s where company culture software can step in and help you establish and monitor expectations for interpersonal communication. Through surveys, solicit employee feedback about communication behaviors and norms — how employees prefer to communicate, how they would rate the current methods, whether they feel comfortable sharing information, etc. This will give you usable data to segment and analyze by location, which will surface possible variations by branch. You can then use this information to inform your policies or even educate employees about potential cultural differences.
Identify culturally-appropriate solutions
When you factor in global cultural differences, an appropriate solution to one team may not seem that way to another. Company culture software can help you do preventative research on culture solutions so that you can have more confidence in how you address a particular problem within your organization.
For example, if you’re managing a merger or acquisition, your instinct might be to share your company’s policies, outline the consequences, and call it a day. After all, that’s the most efficient way to let people know what is and isn’t expected of them. But if you’re merging with a company with a predominantly Japanese company culture, you might unknowingly stimulate a lot of dissatisfaction and disengagement because of a cultural tendency to build consensus and harmony and avoid confrontation or criticism.
In this scenario, you can send a survey with specific questions about the merger or acquisition, or you can analyze employee comments from previous surveys to get an idea of what works and doesn’t work by region. You can also keep an eye on eNPS scores before and after the merger to monitor for poor reactions to big changes by location.
Additionally, a strategic culture assessment (see image below) can help you understand the behaviors and norms to which each region is accustomed. For example, are employees in one country more risk-permitting than in another? Or maybe employees in one country tend to be individual-oriented rather than team-oriented — this surely will impact the effectiveness of performance metrics. Mapping this out will give you a clear idea of the biggest differences in behaviors and norms to plan accordingly.
Learn from global cultural differences
Diversity is an enormous boon, especially when the company creates a supportive and accepting environment. Far too often, however, companies dip their toes into a diversity hiring initiative and assume the boost in innovation and problem-solving will take care of itself. This problem is compounded at a higher level when companies use global locations simply to do business in different places, ignoring any opportunity for global differences to challenge and improve each branch.
Company culture software offers an opportunity to not only minimize the challenges but truly make the most of global cultural differences. By monitoring company culture scores by location and comparing it to profitability, engagement, and other goals, your HR team will be better equipped to spot emerging best practices that you might want to spread across the organization.