Opportunities in new business markets may not always turn up on your doorstep, or even in the same continent – instead, you may find that you are building business relationships in far-flung territories. A language barrier is one potential obstacle that you may need to resolve, but you also need to understand the country’s corporate culture, as well as any local traditions that can help you make a great first impression with your new business partners.
In this article, we help you take a quick overview of your business to see if you may benefit from refreshing your cross-cultural skillset, keeping in mind your organisation’s strategic direction.
Are you familiar with the corporate culture in your new territories?
Strange as it may seem, your perfectly friendly and welcoming behaviour may unsettle or even offend your new global colleagues. Is it time to brush up on the key differences in business culture (including body language and business etiquette) between your organisation and the companies in your target market?
It is also a good idea to get to know the values of the companies you want to work with in different parts of the world – that way, you can identify any potential synergies that will set your business relationship off on the right foot.
Is your organisation planning to set up new offices overseas?
As your business evolves, you may find that you need to establish a presence in new markets – which can mean sending some of your key players overseas. If this is a potential strategy for your business, think carefully about the things your colleagues will need to succeed. A language barrier may require you to invest in some language training, but might you also need to invest in a deeper understanding of local culture and traditions, especially if you expect your team to recruit and manage local employees effectively?
Will your colleagues be managing or working with global teams?
Employees working out of your UK office may face a similar set of challenges to your overseas colleagues when it comes to working with global teams. The results can be fantastic when colleagues work together across locations because you are able to maximise the expertise of local experts, but building successful professional relationships can take time.
Time differences, language barriers, and differing working cultures may create obstacles to success, but these can be overcome if your colleagues are sensitive to the differing cultural needs of your global employees. It is also important to dedicate extra time and effort to ensure that your team is connecting well – the level of ‘social distance’ (the degree of emotional connection between team members) can be difficult to maintain in globally dispersed teams, and it is essential to team success.
If you are serious about succeeding in a new and unfamiliar territory, understanding the idiosyncrasies of local business behaviour may make all the difference – and can help to ensure that your colleagues feel firmly within their comfort zone and on top of their game. If your team may benefit from some top-up cross-cultural training, or you are looking at entering a new and untested market for your organisation, contact us today to find out how we can help.