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Intercultural Management - USA

Being a Manager in United States
Management Guide United States

To ensure successful cross cultural management when working in the U.S., it is safest to treat all people with an equal amount of respect and deference (within the informal framework of America, in general), focus on schedules and maximizing time, and expect that people will want to be dealt with as individuals.

In the U.S. there is a sense that all people in the organization have an important role to play and all are valued for their input. Therefore, managers consult employees to gather background information and often have them share in the decision-making process.

The American working environment has changed drastically. With one eye on costs and the other on retention, employers are increasingly offering part-time or shared jobs, or outsourcing to external contractors. Change is constant as companies are restructured, work teams become "virtual," and flexible work arrangements become more common.

The Role of a Manager

Cross cultural communiciation will be more effective when working in United States when you remember that the most productive managers in United States recognize and value the specialized knowledge that employees at all levels bring. Employees expect to be consulted on decisions that affect them and the greater good of the organization.

Approach to Change

Cross cultural management is more likely to succeed if you understand that businesses in the U.S. have a high tolerance for risk and a ready acceptance for change. The underlying mindset is that change, while difficult, usually brings improvements and enhancements with it.

Approach to Time and Priorities

The U.S. is a controlled-time culture. Global and intercultural expansion has meant adherence to schedules is important and expected. Missing a deadline is a sign of poor management and inefficiency, and will shake people’s confidence.

Successful intercultural management will depend on the individual’s ability to meet deadlines.

Decision Making

American managers are viewed as facilitators--people who help employees do their best work--and not simply decision makers. They empower employees and expect them to take responsibility.

Employees freely cross management levels and speak directly to senior managers. This freedom is particularly apparent at meetings, where everyone in attendance is encouraged to participate openly.

Boss or Team Player?

Cross cultural management is more likely to succeed if you understand the mindset behind the work force. In The United States, groups collaborate well together as teams. Members are generally chosen to participate based on tangible skills or the knowledge base they bring, and are equally welcome to contribute to any discussion that may arise. They are encouraged to generate new ideas that may further the direction of the plan or spawn a new track entirely. In successful, dynamic teams, all members are valued for their actual and potential contribution, and all are treated with equal respect.

Communication and Negotiation Styles

The American negotiating style tends to be a "hard sell"—sometimes characterized as sledgehammer subtlety combined with missionary zeal. A strong pitch may sound boastful but is meant to inspire confidence and trust. It is also consistent with the penchant for logical reasoning, directness and comfort with self-promotion.

American negotiators may have little familiarity with, or patience for, the formal business protocol, indirect communication style, or consensual decision-making practices of other countries (a fact that savvy international negotiators often use to their advantage). Their focus is on the short term and the "big picture" --securing the best deal in a timely manner.

Their approach is informal, cordial and straightforward. The U.S. team will reveal its position and expect the other party to engage in a competitive bargaining process. If an impasse is reached, American tenacity, creativity, and persuasiveness will come to the fore. Despite the "hard sell" tactics, negotiating partners should not feel pressured into making a decision. The Americans expect their counterparts across the table to be similarly pragmatic and single-minded in trying to secure a favorable deal.

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