Not so long ago I was invited to a barbeque where I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen for a long while.
My friends’ work history has included over 20 years in the military and some time in the corporate world. I have known him for several years and have always found his style of communication to be direct, forthright and straight to the point.
Recently he applied for a senior role in a Singaporean owned multinational company. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in his application but he did walk away from the experience armed with some great feedback and an opportunity to contemplate how he might do things differently in his next interview. One of the key ‘take homes’ for him was the observations and remarks he received from the recruitment consultant.
The position that my friend was applying for required him to liaise closely with the Singaporean executive team. The comments that my friend accepted gratefully (or maybe not) in his debrief were that his ‘style’ would be considered too abrasive and direct for the environment.
There were three points from the conversation that I later reflected on. One was the great observations and comments that the recruitment person provided and the other was how the information was received and utilised by my friend. Critical feedback is never easy to give or receive, there is a talent, dexterity - call it what you will, to it. It is important to develop these skills because they provide us with opportunities to
improve, develop, assess and reassess what can make us successful and unsuccessful. Knowing how to give and receive any type of feedback, whether it be positive or negative, that is culturally appropriate and sensitive is critical when working globally.
The third point that I mused over was the shift that has taken place in recent years. In the past Cultural Synergies has developed and run many programs to assist ‘other’ cultures in understanding the western multinational (MNC) culture and programs such as developing Asian talent and programs for non-western people to help them work more successfully within the Western MNC’s.
The world is now seeing a significant shift, whereby the number of Asian companies buying into previously western owned companies has and continues to increase at a rate that requires us to take a moment and consider. There is now a genuine requirement to educate Westerners to understand and work more effectively within Asian multinational cultures. We are now at the stage (and have been for some time) where Western leaders are being managed by Asian executives and
managers and working predominantly in Asian environments.
These organisations and the people that work within them need to be culturally agile and consider the benefits of cultural awareness from different another angle. This will enable skilling, which will allow for greater understanding, support and improved resilience. Cultural agility facilitates organizations and individuals to increase their behavioural repertoire as was deemed necessary for my friend.