In the first part of this conversation, we talked about the first two Levels of Engagement when expanding business opportunities globally. Level One is basic common courtesy. Knowing what works in the culture in which you are working is critical.
Level Two consists of understanding the more discrete and regional rules. Just like in the United States, what might work in Savannah, Georgia may not work in New York City. People might be turned off “in a New York minute”!
Level Three is really all about emotional intelligence. Understanding ourselves, understanding others, and adapting our behavior to the individual are critical for success with global partners. I might argue even more critical than working with domestic partners.
To build an understanding for others’ communication and style requires a self-assessment. Each person should determine to what degree he or she utilizes each behavior style in a given situation. Amazingly, many companies discover that the diversity of style with- in the group, even groups with participants from around the globe, is about the same as if all participants in a room are from the same city.
Learning to Appreciate Others
There is nothing magical about cluing into a person’s style. It is a skill that requires a person to step back from oneself and take the time to understand the other person. For example, within a particular company senior management team members can have a wide array of individual styles. With regard to completing reports, one team leader may require pages of details, and the other leader wants only bullet points of information. Here, nationality or culture is irrelevant.
Employees need to learn how to better understand each other and how a particular client will also have a unique style. A successful work team capitalizes on the appreciation of diversity. Diversity does not mean we have to like everything and everybody. It means that we need to respect and appreciate those things that make people unique.
In our work with international companies, we find that too often we paint other cultures with too broad a brush and fall into a trap of stereotyping instead of drilling down into individual styles. Many countries in the world, based on world events, group all Americans as “fill in the blank.” We, as Americans, are often offended by that. Likewise, we tend to paint other cultures with broad brushes, rather than taking into consideration the regional and individual differences of each other.
Translating Behavior Style Awareness into Action
Arguably, building awareness about the “Three Levels of Engagement” can only translate into sound business strategy once placed into action. As an action item, encourage employees to write a strategy on how to deal with a client that is currently a problem. Identify very specific engagement techniques, and then have each person create a tangible process to follow. A company can stress globality and solving client problems as a vision, but a successful businessperson knows that when the primary decision maker is not satisfied, the relationship won’t move forward nor will the service or product sell.