Managing in a Global Environment

Today’s management environments are becoming more diverse and complex. This is especially true for a global manager. As business globalised, there is a need for more of global managers, as they go global, they not only handle the professional goals but also handle cultural difference and human interaction at workplace. management side of things, management apart, they do have to handle the cultural differences.

The management of employees from different cultural backgrounds means that they need to stay abreast with the result that they are producing while still managing the differences in the culture in the different environment which they work in. This puts a lot of pressures on them and hence it is required to develop certain qualities in order to be global managers.

Qualities of Global Managers

A manager’s philosophy on international business drives his or her willingness in order to globalize a company. The philosophies could be divided into three:

  • Ethnocentric – managers with this philosophy would keep the business to home market oriented.
  • Polycentric – mangers with polycentric philosophy may limit the company to several individual foreign markets.
  • Geocentric – managers with geocentric philosophy may lead management to create more of an integrated worldwide presence in marketing and production.

Global manager should have the ability to foresee and prepare for the future. A true global manager knows his business well and has the ability to meet the changing needs of customers of today. Hence managers with geocentric philosophical view would be preferred for the world as of today. A recent study at the University of Southern California identified fourteen personal characteristics which can distinguish persons with high potential for global management from those with low potential.

Characteristics of a Global Manager

Cross-cultural sensitivity

Culturally adventurous

Maintains flexibility

Business knowledge

Courage

Takes risks

Insight

Motivates others

Willing to learn

Commitment to success

Seeks feedback

Personal Integrity

Open to criticism

Method of Analysis

Interview

Analysis was done by interviewing 4 different executives who are from different sectors of industries and are part of the management team. These interviews were sent as a questionnaire to them since some of the interviewees are people who do not stay in Singapore, the team utilized e-mail as a medium to send the questions to the interviewees. The team got a positive response from all 4 interviewees and is able to analyse the information further to differentiate the management style in reality and theory.

Data Processing

Data processing was done by careful study of the response and tracking each response for theoretical validity and its practicality. The data was mainly took into consideration of the individuals style of working and dealing in intercultural and inter-continental economic and political aspects affecting their business. All interviewees have indicated that they want they identity to be kept anonymous.

Interview Reports

Interviewee 1

Position: Principal

Industry: Proprietary School

For this interviewee, she has mentioned that her role in managing is to take charge of the operation in the office; furthermore, she has the responsibility to define job scope as well as to recruit and to assess staff performance. She has also mentioned that the people in the company does come from different ethnicity, and also includes staff from different country such as Malaysia and China. In this aspect, the challenges that the interviewee faces is in language and the work culture. As of language, it was observed by the interviewee that people has different levels in their command over English language and essentially stresses the importance of communication. And as for the work culture, each of the people view work differently in each of their own aspects.

There were a number of criteria that is mentioned in the interviewees answer for what are the personality traits that is looked for in the bosses, subordinates as well as people of the same managerial role, the interviewee mentioned that bosses must have clear foresight, understanding, willing to share and has the leadership qualities. For the interviewee’s subordinates, they must be quick learners, willing to work hard and try new things, and independent. She also told that conflicts do arise from miscommunication frequently and that these problems are resolved through better understanding and good communication.

Interviewee 2

Position: Assistant General Manager (AGM)

Industry: Banking

The interview was initiated by knowing the managerial role suited for the interviewee. In response the interviewee said that the role of a leader best suited him. He also told that a leader could be a good manager but the vice versa may not be true always. His principle is that a leader should have vision and know the job well which would make him lead the institution as an example. The interviewee added that leading a team includes managing ego level, managing people from different cultural and social backgrounds and knowing the level of proficiency and weakness of each in the team, which would in turn help in plan and co-ordinate the work according to the skill level to achieve the target by working as a team.

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Next a few sets of questions on the socio-cultural workforce were put through. The interviewee said that their company had people from different ethnicity and religion working together. He said that assimilating such a diverse workforce is indeed a major challenge for a global manager. He went on to say that if managers do not force their cultural views and instead be firm on their professional views and principles would not only bring success but also would earn respect from the colleagues. He said that conflicts due to this diverse nature in the workforce are common and as a manager he/she must be patient and be a good listener which would help resolve the conflicts through discussion. Knowing the fact that he is working for an international company he told that the cultural differences with the parent company hasn’t affected him much and said that a successful global manager would understand and adapt to the parent companies culture.

The interviewee was subjected to questions relating to the personality of the people, ethics and criticism. He told that a manger must be conceptually clear about the task, must possess good time management skills and must be available for the team when in need. He said that this would help him gain respect from not only the subordinates but from the bosses as well. He considers ‘Attitude’ as a major component of one’s personality. He told that any organization would choose a person with right attitude over a person who is highly skilled but with a bad attitude. Also he said that in order for self improvement criticisms must be analysed, be it from bosses or subordinates. He said that ethics and values would sustain any company from all adversities in business.

Next the interviewee was asked whether the different economic, political condition affected the working style of the manager and the company. He told that the differences due to economic situations in different countries are controlled by various organizations and with the set of rules and guidance from them would facilitate trade among the countries smoothly. Also, he told that in the event of conflict due to the political conditions the local policy would have precedence over the home country regulations which at least ensure a smooth business practice according to the local law.

Interviewee 3

Position: Account Manager

Industry: Computer Peripherals

For this interviewee, she is working as an account manager. Her role in the company is to basically manage customer relationship and to guide new sales staff. As her job scope includes training of new staff she has been interacting with people from different ethnicity. According to her adaptation to the local culture and the grouping of the same ethnicity are the major challenges faced in handling the diversified workforce. As to her subordinate staffs, she expects quick response, organization, honesty and responsibility.

In her work, she has not faced any challenges in resolving any conflict due to this diverse nature of the workforce, however, she mentioned that language is the primary barrier for different ethnicity and as long as everyone communicates in proper English, conflicts can be minimized.

Finally, she mentions that the cultural differences have not affected her much. And this is very much dependent of the staff, they either blend well into the diversified environment or they do not at all. Those who mix well will stay, but those who don’t will try to find somewhere else more suitable for them.

Interviewee 4

Position: Sales manager

Industry: Automobile

The interview began with the interviewee’s input in the concept of managerial roles. He told that the roles of planning and controlling suited him the most.

As for the socio-cultural diversities he told that in today’s world it’s rare that one finds workplace without diversity and essentially his work place is similarly constitute of diverse work force. Furthermore, he explains that not only it is diverse with different people within the home country but also constitutes of crowd from European, American and several Asian countries. He added that it is essentially an integrated part of managers to handle socio-cultural diversities and conflicts would be part of it. He said that such conflicts are generally managed through discussions and with a better interaction with the workforce. He told us that in order to understand the different cultures their company conducts workshops, training and team bonding events whereby there is interaction with the diverse workforce and it helps in learning different cultures. He stresses to this that communication and cultural understanding is very much important not only to mangers but to every individual in such a team. This would help understand each other well and would result in effective outcome from the team as a whole. He further explains that in case of conflicts the people involved would be directly approached and will be advised and repeated offences would result in termination of the erring employee. He also mentioned that even though he is working in a company which follows a very different culture from his it has not affected him as from childhood he has been constantly exposed to crowd of diverse nature and he has adapted to the situation quite well.

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When subjected to questions regarding people behavior, ethics and criticism he expects that the subordinates should be understanding and supportive, the bosses to be caring and compassionate and people of same managerial level to show professional respect for each other. He said that ethics contribute to the strong pillars of any institution and helps in building brand equity. He told that criticism is an important and integral part of any individual as ‘no one is perfect’. He cautioned that biased criticism would be very detrimental and would only invite more trouble in the workplace.

As for the questions relating to global economic and political conditions that would affect his or even the company’s business he told us that sometimes it occurs that the rules imposed by the United States of America affects its trade with other nations. He says that even if their products are not sold in USA the rules of USA are followed by many other nations and this has affected the company’s trade on several occasions. He added that as the company’s products are consumer driven even the political conditions of various nations affects the company’s trade in the international market.

Analysis

Following analysis is carried out based on the interview extracts.

Cross cultural Sensitivity

From the result of the interviews, it can be generalized that each of the managers took up the role as a leader and has maintained a systematic professionalism. It could be observed that generally, all of the managers interact with employees from different cultures and ethnicity and all consider it challenging in terms of language barriers. And in this case, good communication skills are essential for global managers in order to handle the challenge.

Maintaining flexibility

Furthermore, work culture of the different ethnicity is also stated as one of the challenges that they face and assimilating into them is not easy. But with good communication skills and with people with right attitude in the team, it is possible that they are able to assimilate into the work culture.

Culturally adventurous

Those managers who work in Multinational Corporations (MNCs) have added that the cultural differences from their parent company has not affected them much, this will be very much dependent on how these global managers are able to adapt to the parent company culture. For managers who work in local companies no such problem has been occurred.

Courage/Risk Management

When considering the global market the global political and economic practices plays a major role. As from the interview it was noticed that some had to interact to the global market regularly and a general rule of thumb for global managers is to follow the rules and regulations set by international trade unions for the fluctuating economic situations. As for political conflicts when dealing in a global situation, it is essential for the managers as a primary requirement to follow the local policy.

Business Knowledge

The interview analysis highlights that managers must have good knowledge and foresight of the business involved, posses’ good time management skills and be readily available for the team. These traits would in turn benefit the manager to gain respect from his/her colleagues, subordinates and also from their bosses.

People Relation/Commitment to success

As for interaction with people at work place each of the individuals expects various skills and behavior from people at different levels. The range varies from good communication skills to personal attitude at work. The analysis also shows that managers should be open to criticism from any level and this should be taken as learning opportunity instead of treating as demoralizing input.

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Discussion

Similarities

Organizational Plurality

To meet a growing diversity in a company a company should focus on organizational plurality, which allows all members to contribute to the company and in turn maximizes the benefit not only for customers but also for the organization and the employees themselves. Furthermore the uniqueness of all members is respected by not discriminating the work force in any levels. It was studied that this behavior of organizational plurality has been very much followed in all the successful companies listed in the interview and all managers unanimously follow this in today’s globalized industrial practices not only for their success but also for the successful upbringing of the organization as a whole thereby increasing the efficiency and effectiveness.

Human Resource among Cultural Diversity

Global managers are expected to work with people from various/diverse cultural background and it is of utmost importance that they should be able to accept this kind of workforce in the globalized world. In order to carry out this effectively they need to understand their own culture to realize the difference in cultural diversity of the workforce. In short, communication skills are the essential component in order to accept employees from different cultural background. A challenge to the diversity in the workforce for the managers would be to motivate each one of them as the employees have variable needs.

Risk Management and Business Knowledge

Risk Management becomes difficult in a diversified and globalised industry. It is indeed great challenge to the mangers to be courageous enough to take decisions under adverse situations which would involve a total strategic change in the business. Managers who effectively perform the task and who foresee the change in customer requirements in the business would essentially lead the organization to a beneficial stage.

Differences

Most noticeable difference from theory is that the expectation level of managers. It seems to be difficult to meet the expectation level of each manager as some are very focused to the business and some are general in terms of attitude and personal behaviors.

Another major difference would be in dealing with economic and political differences of various nations affecting their business. The managers tend to localize their business methods when conflicts arise in these areas. The tendency is to comply with all the major local policy or home country policy in order to sustain business locally. Such approach may even lead to catastrophe when the home market and economic conditions are not favorable for the business involved. A perfect example for this would be the Lehman brother’s collapse which was caused due to the US real estate downturn and which in turn led to a global economic meltdown.

Conclusion

In conclusion, based on the analysis and discussion done, the team could conclude that in general there is not much difference in terms of what is happening in theory and in practice. Each of the executives have agreed that organizational plurality which everyone has opportunities to contribute to the company be it the boss or the subordinates. This has a contribution to the good upbringing of a company. Furthermore, all of the executives agreed that being able to accept employees from different background is essential in order to be able to motivate the employees and hence, they will need to be able to communicate well with their subordinates. It is also agreed that a manager must have good business knowledge in this globalised world, with the advent of globalization, comes also risk which are inevitable, then comes the needs for the managers to be able to manage risk and make the right decision.

Although all there are many similarities, there are also differences in terms of the theory and practices of the managerial position, one of which that each manager has different expectation of their employees. Another major differences is the management style of the managers in different countries, though there are theory governing the needs for the manager to manage company outside of their home country, but, it has to be viewed, too that each country has their own rule, and this will then eventually alter the management style of the managers accordingly.


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