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Navigating Cultural Differences for Global Managers with Melissa Lamson (Ep. #45)

The BetterManager Team
Building Better Managers Podcast Episode 45 - Melissa Lamson

Building Better Managers Podcast Episode #45: Global Management with Melissa Lamson

Great managers focus on communication, interaction, engagement and motivation to get the most out of their teams. But do those tools work universally when you are managing globally? The good news is that the tools don’t really change, but HOW we use them across different cultures absolutely does.

Melissa Lawson, diversity management specialist and author of six books on DEI, joins the podcast to show you how to approach the challenges of managing globally by drawing upon real world examples from first-hand experience around the globe. She addresses cross-cultural differences in direct vs softer approaches to feedback, dealing with time zones, virtual meeting pitfalls, and even how to adjust for the local evening news!

In this episode:

Meet Melissa:

  • Melissa has built and run companies both in Europe and the US. She has partnered with successful leaders and companies across all industries around the world. Her portfolio of clients include: Accenture, IKEA, Linkedin, MTV, Porsche, Ripple, SAP, Space X, Unity Point Health and WalkMe. She has served as interim Head of Global Diversity.
  • Melissa has her Masters in Intercultural Relations, specializing in Diversity Management, and has authored six books with D&I subject matter. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Forbes and Fast Company.

Some Lessons from Around the Globe

  • South Africa
  • India
  • Germany & Singapore

The Logistics of Bringing The Team Together

  • Research shows that Time Zones are a major issue in terms of just getting the team to get together and being productive.
  • You need to consider and set expectations that it will not be convenient for everyone. Are you willing to get up in the middle of the night meet with your team? Is there a time that everyone can make work on a regular basis?
  • Second, what types of technology is the team going to use? There are so many option and platforms - do we prefer to use messenger texting, video, talk on the phone? There are considerations such as of location & transportation that come into play. Some people have to commute to work, others may be in a public situation, so it's not as easy to be on the phone or be in a video meeting when you're surrounded by other people. And what about people that don't have great Wi Fi connectivity? Considering the technology is certainly important.
  • The third piece is really making sure that you get agreement on some of the following questions: How are we going to resolve conflict? How are we going to have conversations that might be difficult? How might we give each other feedback on both the content and the productivity of the work?
  • Even when the components are easy to define, it's really all the communication around around it the can be difficult.

Steps for Newly Global Managers

  • Have individual conversations and get feedback from your team members. Make sure you are asking open ended questions so that you can really get to the heart of any issues.
  • Keep in mind that some cultures may be a little less direct than others, so make sure that you're spending some time with with the team socially. I know it's a little more challenging virtually, but that was actually a skill that you maybe have learned during the pandemic that you can continue to apply effectively when managing globally.
  • Research shows that if you can create that spontaneous interaction, and do that as much as three times more often than you would if you were in the workplace face to face, that can up the level of engagement and personal connection which supports the professional connection.
  • I you spend that time up front, you really save the time on the back end, preventing conflicts and stopping people from leaving because they don't feel appreciated or don't feel engaged.

Downloads & Resources

Follow Melissa on LinkedIn, Twitter, and at LeadWithDEI.com.
Subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast platform!
Check out our blog articles on Leadership here.

About Melissa Lamson

Melissa has built and run companies both in Europe and the US. She has partnered with successful leaders and companies across all industries around the world. Her portfolio of clients include: Accenture, IKEA, Linkedin, MTV, Porsche, Ripple, SAP, Space X, Unity Point Health and WalkMe. She has served as interim Head of Global Diversity.

Melissa has her Masters in Intercultural Relations, specializing in Diversity Management, and has authored six books with D&I subject matter. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Forbes and Fast Company.

Episode Transcript
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