Team Wheel

Managing transformation and culture

One of the challenges for HR and leadership teams in dynamic Global companies is sustaining a unified corporate culture across countries and regions. Wherever your teams are based geographically it’s essential to create a personal employee environment for everyone.

While global teams can supply cost savings and help firms access talent from around the world, cultural differences and divergent expectations around workplace norms can be sources of friction. It’s important to understand how cultures differ around the world, while avoiding stereotyping behaviours based on preconceived national characteristics.

What is Company culture?

Although difficult to define as it can differ from one organisation to another, company culture is the set of values, goals and behaviours that leaders and employees of an organization share. What drives teams to achieve the company goals can be unique to each employee but it’s essential that everyone involved can work together. A healthy company culture encourages employees to build purposeful and lasting relationships with the company’s mission and each other. A strong culture is one which is not prohibitive but encourages and enables team members to produce unique solutions to business challenges.

Regional boundaries

With the increasing prevalence of telecommuting, freelancing, and contract work, it is becoming more common to work with others across regional boundaries. Recognizing that fellow team members may be coming from regions where norms and behavioural patterns differ is critical when communicating and collaborating with a diverse work team. Different cultures view and interact with work relationships differently. Activities and trainings should be adapted to culture-specific needs, and communications be sensitive to local norms. When managing global teams, employees’ own national values and beliefs can lead to misunderstandings and tension. For example, when inviting participation in meetings and conference calls, differences in culture may cause some participants to reserve comments until their opinions are specifically invited while others might offer their views voluntarily. Project managers and recruiters must be aware of these differences and manage them.

One Size doesn’t always fit All

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all for local offices of multinational firms, as localisation strategies are paramount to growth for global companies. In the same way that we localise content to appeal to the intended audience, so, we need to make sure that each office or team network works for our global employees.  

Recognizing the potential influence of the external environment on workplace behaviours is critical when managing others. For example, when designing work teams and setting reporting structures, managers should consider whether regional cultures might drive employees toward collaboration or independent effort and to what extent employees expect hierarchy and structure. 

Cultural considerations also come into play when motivating employees, designing incentive schemes, training new employees, and implementing decision-making processes. Transformation management is most effective when HR professionals acknowledge and understand the cultural context of affected employee groups and apply that understanding in their approach. 

HR Transformation without boundaries

Transforming HR within a global organisation necessarily involves comprehensive research into local regulations and practices in each country and region operated in. The company’s culture however is about more than the technicalities of compliance and administration, it is about values. Without a strong and close-knit culture, any company wouldn’t be able to unite its teams around its mission, employees do not feel passionate about showing up to work each day. Company culture is crucial both to the happiness and well-being of your employees and to the overall survival of the business.