[0] => WP_Post Object
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            [post_content] => Due to a number of factors such as technology and globalisation our day to day lives - whether business or personal increasingly involve broader international networks.  And while in the IMI blog we often consider our "effectiveness" in how we interact with and manage others but all too often we do not discuss the critical factors of nationality and culture.

How do cultural differences impact on your ability to do business? And how can we make sure we are maximising our relationships with those in our network who may be operating with cultural differences to our own.  

Erin Meyer is a professor at INSEAD, one of the world's leading international business schools. Her work has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Singapore Business Times and In 2013 the Thinkers 50 named her as one of 30 up-and-coming thinkers and in October 2013 British Airways Business Life magazine on their list of 'Ten Dons to Watch'. Her work focuses on how the world's most successful global leaders navigate the complexities of cultural differences in an international environment.  


IMI: Based on your current work - if you only had 6 words of advice to give a business - what would they be?

EM: Succeed Globally with a Culture Map

IMI: What does this mean?

EM: Today, whether we work with colleagues in Dusseldorf or Dubai, Brasilia or Beijing, New York or New Delhi, we are all part of a global network (real or virtual, physical or electronic) where success requires navigating through wildly different cultural realities. Unless we know how to decode other cultures and avoid easy-to-fall-into cultural traps, we are easy prey to misunderstanding, needless conflict, and ultimate failure.

Yet most managers have little understanding of how local culture impacts global interaction. Even those who are culturally informed, travel extensively, and have lived abroad often have few strategies for dealing with the cross-cultural complexity that affects their team's day-to-day effectiveness.

To help people improve their ability to decode the cultural differences impacting their work and to enhance their effectiveness in dealing with these differences, I have built on the work of many in my field to develop a tool called the Culture Map. It is made up of eight scales representing the management behaviours where cultural gaps are most common.

The eight scales are based on decades of academic research into culture from multiple perspectives. To this foundation I have added my own work, which has been validated by extensive interviews with thousands of executives who have confirmed or corrected my findings.   The scales are:
  • Communicating: explicit vs. implicit
  • Evaluating: direct criticism vs. indirect criticism
  • Leading: egalitarian vs. hierarchical
  • Deciding: consensual vs. top down
  • Trusting: task vs. relationship
  • Disagreeing: confrontational vs. avoidance
  • Scheduling: linear-time vs. flexible-time
  • Persuading: applications-first vs. principles-first
By analyzing the relative positioning of one nationality to another on each scale, managers learn to decode how culture influences day-to-day international collaboration and therefor avoid the common pitfalls. Managers have always needed to understand human nature and personality differences – that’s nothing new. What is new is that twenty-first century managers must understand a wider, richer array of work styles than ever before. They have to be able to determine which aspects of their interactions are simply a result of personality and which are a result of differences in cultural perspective. IMI: Where should we look for further information? EM: Read The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business.  Or my HBR article:  Navigating the Cultural Minefield Erin Meyer will be holding a Masterclass at IMI on September 30th.  If you are interested in attending click here to register. [post_title] => "Decode cultural differences to suceed globally" Six Word Wisdom from Erin Meyer [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => six-word-wisdom-erin-mayer [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 21:04:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 21:04:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 19309 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2017-04-04 16:31:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-04 16:31:42 [post_content] => [post_title] => Bridging The Generational Gap In Modern Organisations [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => bridging-generational-gap-modern-organisations [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-18 07:51:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-18 07:51:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 4787 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2013-10-23 15:47:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-10-23 15:47:02 [post_content] => Top Dysfunctions of a Team In every organisation the top team is that critical component that is tasked with setting the wheels in motion. The way in which the top team operates sets an example for the rest of the organisation and can and should be a motivating example for the rest of the business.  But just how effective are top teams in setting an organisation on the right course? And how good are they in engaging and motivating employees to do what is needed?. Working with many top teams, observing their behaviours and listening to their conversations when they meet, I have noticed some interesting patterns. Common Top Team Dysfunctions... Turf wars Many top team conversations focus on reviewing large tables of numbers and explaining how they are different from forecasted expectations.  At this point the conversations shift to who is to held "responsible" and which department or function should take praise or blame. Cynicism Top teams often talk about how employees fail to "understand the gravity of the situation", the importance of the "drastic change"s ahead or even "remember that they are paid to do a job". Incongruence While many top teams are aware they need to be a team, they often believe that any time spent working on the team is time taken away from talking about important business issues. A dysfunctional top team cannot make good decisions let alone execute them. While each top team has certainly different group dynamics and many function well in particular areas, the above behavioural patterns seem to be quite pervasive.  Where the above dysfunctions are present they are almost undoubtedly at the root of larger business challenges. ...And how to overcome them Behavioural change begins with understanding of current behaviours and a clear picture of the desired behaviours. Overcoming the above potentially destructive patterns of behaviour requires the top team to be united, caring, and authentic. Be United Firstly, while each team member has a functional role and is responsible for a specific business unit, all organisations need a unanimous commitment to a course of action. This has little to do with consensus and much more to do with well defined success criteria, a clear sense of the priorities, and a well defined decision-making process. Everyone is responsible for the success or failure of a business through clarity of purpose, consistent performance feedback and mutual accountability. Be Caring Secondly, simply paying someone to do a job is not always enough to motivate them to do the job right. People are engaged in doing a great job when they are inspired to do so by leaders that walk the talk, are honest in their interactions and more importantly care about what's going on in the life of their employees.  Being caring is not a nice-to-have - it can make the difference between a deadlocked organisation and one that is engaged to deliver. Be Authentic Finally, for top teams to be effective they need to become aware of their influence on the mood of the entire organisation.  A top team must operate as a true team, working through organisational issues with candour, vulnerability and most importantly with mutual accountability. The visible daily behaviour of the organisation's leaders is a much more powerful message than any vision or mission statement.  When the words are incongruent with the behaviours, it is the behaviours that set the truth. Before an organisation's leaders can expect the rest of the business to operate effectively, it is important that they understand how they themselves work as a team to contribute to the common goal of delivering business results. If you are interested in having your senior team work with IMI contact us on +353 1 207 8400 or or read more about our approach. Fabio Grassi is Executive Learning Director at IMI. He is a specialist in the development of team performance, collaboration and motivation.  His approach involves the facilitation of tailored workshops aimed at the achievement of specific business outcomes. He is passionate about the development of ethical leadership through executive coaching. e-mail Fabio Grassi or call on +353 87 9183282. [post_title] => Are Mummy & Daddy Fighting? 3 Ways of Overcoming Top Team Dysfunctions [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => are-mummy-daddy-fighting-3-ways-of-overcoming-top-team-dysfunctions-6 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 21:29:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 21:29:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
Dr Colm Foster

Dr Colm Foster

8th May 2017

Dr Colm Foster is director of executive education at the Irish Management Institute

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"Decode cultural differences to suceed globally" Six Word Wisdom from Erin Meyer
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High-performance teams should embrace conflict – not shy away from it.

THE WORLD OF business education has borrowed many paradigms from the world of sports, with the whole area of teamwork being especially prominent.

But while as business people we can learn a lot from sports teams, we also need to be very careful in superficially applying learnings from one sphere into another.

In many organisations, the rush to implement wide-ranging teamwork is misguided and, as many have found out, not particularly successful. Part of the reason is that many people confuse teams with groups. A team is a collection of individuals who work interdependently – that is, their individual and collective success relies on each other, like the Irish rugby team.

A group is a collection of individuals whose individual success does not rely on the efforts of their colleagues, but whose collective success may – like the Ryder Cup ‘team’.

The need to share knowledge or occasionally support or cover for a colleague does not create the need for a team.

This may seem like an overemphasised distinction, but it is very important. Creating teams of any sort, but especially high-performance ones, is hard work. It takes time, resources and perseverance.

There will absolutely be an investment required to make it happen. The critical question is whether the work of the collective is so interdependent that the potential dividend outweighs the investment required.

Uncomfortable places

Promoting teamwork can produce many useful benefits in terms of collective decision-making, generating consensus, creating a sense of shared responsibility and accountability, and importantly a feeling of being part of a supporting ‘tribe’.

However, normal teams tend to be missing the two vital ingredients that distinguish them from genuine high-performance teams – shared, high-performance norms and the ability to embrace conflict.

Unfortunately, the addition of these two ingredients tends to make high-performance teams difficult (or at least uncomfortable) places to be, for most of the time.

Teams need to embrace conflict (Photo source)

Genuine high-performance teams have exacting performance norms. Most collections of humans will find a performance level that is relatively comfortable for the group, somewhere slightly higher than the average, but not by much.

This produces a mediocre performance level that is anathema to high-performance teams. These teams are made up of high-performance individuals who demand high performance from themselves and others, and who are extremely intolerant of poor performance from their peers.

They are difficult individuals, especially when not under performance pressure. As team-working researcher Mark de Rond says, “What makes them great makes them difficult.”

This means that the role of the team leader is vital, in that he or she will have to manage the collateral damage that these people can create when not in ‘performance’ mode (be ready for your ‘Saipan moment’!).

The second feature we find in high-performance teams is the ability to embrace conflict. In many teams conflict is avoided for the sake of group harmony.

Embrace conflict

Unfortunately, avoiding conflict does not address the cause of conflict and we often find the problem of ‘unfinished business’ hampering the performance of teams. In high-performance teams, conflict is embraced, even created, to ensure that ideas are robustly challenged, for example by playing ‘devil’s advocate’ in meetings.

The members of the team will come with diverse and differing opinions and perspectives and will bring a healthy level of challenge and debate to every issue. The goal of the team is to produce an optimal answer, not to reach consensus.

Too often Irish teams suffer from a terminal politeness problem, where we avoid constructive conflict for fear that it might turn destructive. This results in false harmony and sub-optimal performance.

The prescription for creating a high-performance team is cognitively simple but behaviourally complex – that is, easy to say, hard to do. Stop looking for good ‘team players’ and look instead for high-performance individuals.

Be prepared that a high-performance culture will be an uncompromising and at times uncomfortable place to be. Ensure that conflict is not closed down or avoided, but instead dealt with in an open and transparent way.


Dr Colm Foster is director of executive education at the Irish Management Institute. He will be a keynote speaker at Bord Gáis Energy’s half-day conference, Leadership: Building a Winning Team on 11 May in Galway.