Understanding Cultural PreferencesThe Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ report contains results on each of five (5) cultural dimensions:
1. Individualism (Individualism - Group)
2. Power Distance (Hierarchical - Participative)
3. Certainty (Need for Certainty - Tolerance for Ambiguity)
4. Achievement (Achievement - Quality of Life)
5. Time Orientation (Long-Term Orientation - Short-Term Orientation)
If you think of each dimension as a continuum, each of your scores will be a point on the corresponding dimension's continuum. A higher score will indicate a preference for the orientation indicated on that end of the continuum; a lower score will indicate a preference for the orientation on the opposite end of the continuum.
Your results may or may not correspond to your country's average. A country average is a point that represents the top of a bell curve under which all those in the database from a particular country (who have taken the instrument) will be represented. Remember that culturally similar people often have variations in preferences - as groups, however, they can be differentiated. So don't assume colleagues' preferences from their country average (these can only be used as guidelines), but base your responses on what you learn directly from your colleagues' behaviors.
There are no right or wrong answers or profiles. Whether or not your style will be effective in a given situation depends on the approach, the context, and the desired outcome.
Example #1: if you have a hierarchical orientation (prefer to manage by giving explicit instructions) and are working in a low power distance context, you may not be able to achieve your goals by fiat; persuasion and modeling work best in a low power distance context. However, if the context is a crisis, where orders are more expected even in low power distance contexts, you may be more successful.
Example #2: If you have a participative orientation and are working in a high power distance context, if the goal of your work is to bring about change, persuasion and modeling may not be sufficient to accomplish this. It may take explicit direction from someone at a higher level (yourself if you operate at that level). However, if you are a member of a team and teambuilding is an object, the low power distance behavior of modeling and persuasion may indeed be effective, even in a high power distance context.
None of the cultural dimensions operate in isolation from the others. Complexity is the rule, and determining the most appropriate and effective initiative in different cultures requires knowledge of cultural differences, understanding of the people you are working with and their workplace, and the general environment - political, economic, and social - in which we live and work.
Sample Learnings from Results
|Colleagues with an Individual Orientation... ||Colleagues with a Group Orientation... |
|Colleagues with a Hierarchical Orientation... ||Colleagues with a Participative Orientation... |
|Colleagues with a Need for Certainty... ||Colleagues with a Tolerance for Ambiguity... |
Example: Working on a team with people of different nationalities
If you have a higher need for certainty than others, perhaps you should volunteer for a planning role and you should expect that the structure of the team or its implementation strategies may be less well defined than you would prefer.
If you have a higher tolerance for ambiguity than others, you will need to appreciate others' need for compliance with procedures and an orderly approach, and understand that they are likely to expect the same of you. Overemphasis on your preference towards a "just do it" attitude may lead to resentment and withdrawal of cooperation, rather than the intended impact of "empowering" others and achieving objectives.
Click here if you would like to find out your Certainty profile.
|Colleagues with an Achievement Orientation... ||Colleagues with a Quality of Life Orientation... |
Example: Modifying a product or training program for other countries
If you are highly achievement oriented and working with people who have more of a quality of life orientation, the process you use to develop the product, its packaging and distribution system, or a training program, may need to be modified so that you can accomplish your goals by working through others.
If you have a higher quality of life orientation, your more achievement oriented colleagues may perceive you as less driven or ambitious than they are. They may as a consequence display some frustration based on their greater expectation for urgency and delivery versus your preference for establishing consultative relationships and rapport. Recognition of this dynamic in your initial interactions may help you to establish an effective foundation for the cooperation you seek to develop.
|Colleagues with a Long-Term Orientation... ||Colleagues with a Short-Term Orientation... |
Example: Working on a joint venture
In countries with a long-term orientation, organizations measure success over a long time frame, and factors such as market position and customer satisfaction are much more important in evaluating business performance than bottom line results. If you have more of a short-term orientation and are working with people in countries with a long-term orientation, you may be viewed as short-sighted and impatient if you insist on meeting short-term goals at the expense of what is believed best for the long-term health of the business.
In countries with a short-term orientation, efforts are expected to produce quick results, and companies often use management control systems which judge how effectively a manager has contributed to the company's bottom line. If you have more of a long-term orientation and are working with people in countries with a more short-term orientation, you may view this constant emphasis on short-term results as myopic and harmful to the business; on the other hand, your colleagues with a short-term orientation may view you as incompetent and unfocused if your actions and decisions do not take into account current business needs.
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