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Overseas operations can lead to problems that many have not foreseen

Just because a company has ambitions to build up global operations, it does not automatically follow that it has a global outlook.

How can your company prepare for shifting mindsets to work better overseas? Here are a few thoughts:

Appreciate and reconcile the cultural differences you will experience.

Know when to tolerate contradictions and when you should reject them.

Consult with diverse management teams to understand the implications of headquarter-based decisions on other markets.

Make sure that there is a link between your company values and your employee behaviour; management incentives can be a useful tool to strengthen this link.

Increase the diversity within management teams so that they better reflect the breadth of the company’s geographical footprint.

overseas-operations-can-lead-to-problems-that-many-have-not-foreseen-19Allow executives to express their diversity rather than conform to a homogenous corporate culture.

Of course, global leaders will play an essential role in shifting their business to a global mindset. Their mindset requires leaders to do many things. They need to tolerate ambiguity and integrate multiple perspectives. Companies that operate in multiple international markets constantly encounter contradictions. For example, effective marketing strategies that work in one country may be inappropriate in another.

So the leader must adopt a balancing act to ensure cultural differences don’t lead to roadblocks and create their own set of problems.

As a leader in a multicultural organisation, you need to adopt an interdependent approach to decision making.  Decisions taken in one part of the world can have unintended consequences in another.

Leaders should look to underlying values to bridge cultural differences. Global companies must find a dynamic integration between local autonomy and centralised control. Autonomy gives regional managers the freedom to take advantage of market-specific opportunities and adapt the business to suit local needs and customs. But control enables an efficient allocation of resources and facilitates the sharing of global capabilities and resources.

Finally, value the expression of diversity. Most companies understand that diversity is good for business, but if your culture is too centrally directed you will never reap its financial benefits.

The Results Centre offer a powerful cross cultural programme which helps your staff integrate into overseas working.  Why not find out more about how they can help you to think globally and act locally?