A few things are certain when we globalize our workforce, we need to develop our cross-cultural skills as leaders. In this episode, Tim Reitsma and Dr. Rajesh Kumar—expert in cross-cultural business, international business and leadership—talk about the key skills leaders must develop in order to create high performing global teams.
- Dr. Rajesh Kumar is a retired academic business consultant specializing in international business. Originally from India, he has lived in the United States for 20 plus years and in Europe for 15 years. [3:06]
- Dr. Kumar advises companies in negotiation, training, coaching, and also in partnerships and alliances. [4:56]
- As a leader, you need to provide training. You need to provide awareness, identify some of the potential roadblocks in adaptation. And above all, create a sense of psychological safety. [10:11]
When you’re crossing cultures, you’re getting out of your comfort zone.Dr. Rajesh Kumar
- One of the reasons why cross-cultural adaptation gets difficult is that people are constantly being tested in terms of their comfort zone. [10:34]
- Dr. Kumar shares some of the the top skills when it comes to the general cross-cultural skills as a leader. [14:33]
There has to be an openness to learning, to respect, to recognize what the other party is bringing to the table.DR. Rajesh Kumar
- Humility is important because that will allow you to learn about the culture. It will create a positive impression to the host. And it will be helpful in terms of building a long-term relationship. Patience is also very important, because different cultures have different conceptions of time. [15:02]
- You need awareness and you need to be prepared to accept the fact that maybe you need to do things differently than what you have been used to doing. [16:19]
- Acceptance is also important, because if you make negative judgements about the other culture, then your interaction will go nowhere. [16:48]
- Dr. Kumar also talks about having a sense of respect and being nonjudgmental. [17:53]
- As a leader, you’ve got to choose the right people. And you’ve got to actually bring them up, or really socialize them to the corporate culture in terms of what your expectations are and how you would like the way in which the subsidiary were to function. [20:01]
- As a leader, you also have to listen to the local people. You can’t just have a top down approach. [20:34]
- Adaptation doesn’t mean that you have to adapt to everything. [20:51]
There’s no business without relationship.DR. Rajesh Kumar
- A lot of global companies have operations everywhere, but they don’t actually pay that much attention to local input. [24:24]
Preparation is not just about understanding the market and all of those characteristics, but also understanding the local cultural and political intricacies that might be relevant in different situations.Dr. Rajesh Kumar
- Dr. Kumar talks about the challenge of how each country thinks that their way of doing things is the best. [32:11]
- Dr. Kumar shares advice for people who are thinking about globalization or thinking about their global workforce. [34:10]
Meet Our Guest
Dr. Kumar is a consultant and a retired business academic specializing in global business. He has an undergraduate and a Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of Delhi, an MBA from Rutgers University, and a Ph.D. in International Business from the Stern School of Business at New York University. He is also a Certified Global Dexterity Trainer.
Originally from India, Dr. Kumar has lived and worked in the United States, France, Finland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. He has taught at Penn State, Ohio State, Babson College, and Menlo College in the United States, the University of Nottingham in the U.K., and the University of Aarhus in Denmark, among others.
Dr. Kumar specializes in the art of doing business across cultural boundaries. As companies go global they must deal with suppliers, customers, and even employees coming from different cultural backgrounds. This impacts all facets of business operations ranging from how you negotiate business deals to how you motivate employees and manage them.
Dr. Kumar has led training programs for global companies on Doing Business in India, Negotiating Cross-Culturally, and Managing Strategic Partnerships. Global Strategic Advisory, of which Dr. Kumar is the principal, offers training programs to companies seeking to enhance their global presence. Dr. Kumar is also part of the Partner-Alliances Collective, a group of professionals involved in managing alliances.
Dr. Kumar has a passion for reading, spirituality, and wine tasting. His global experience adds to his vast knowledge, in which he has many fascinating stories to tell.
One of the biggest things in doing business is the ability to negotiate. And certainly when you cross global boundaries, international negotiations become very, very important.Rajesh Kumar
- Sign up for the People Managing People Resource Library
- Subscribe to the newsletter to get our latest articles and podcasts
- Follow Dr. Kumar on LinkedIn
- Check out Dr. Kumar’s website
- Erin Meyer’s book: The Culture Map
Related Articles And Podcasts:
Read The Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: There has to be an openness to learning, to respect, to recognize what the other party is bringing to the table and not just really, uh, dictated. So I think humility is important because that will allow you to learn about the culture. It will create a positive impression to the host. And I think that will be helpful in terms of building a long term relationship.
Tim Reitsma: Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. We're on a mission to build a better world of work and to help you build happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. I'm your host, Tim Reitsma. And as usual, I'm curious, have you expanded your workforce globally? Hired amazing people from various cultural backgrounds? Or perhaps you've built entire teams in other countries to support business growth.
A few things are certain when we globalize our workforce, we need to develop our cross-cultural skills as leaders. Dr. Kumar, expert in cross-cultural business, international business and leadership. We talk about the key skills us leaders must develop in order to create high performing global teams.
If you're struggling to connect with your remote team, aren't seeing the business results you'd hope for when expanding globally, well, then this episode is for you. So stay tuned!
I'm really excited about today's conversation and, but before we get into it, thank you Dr. Rajesh Kumar for joining me on the People Managing People podcast.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Thank you, Tim, for inviting me. And, uh, it's great to be on this podcast as a guest.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. We're gonna be talking about cross-cultural skills as a leader and it's such a great topic. I mean, it was a great topic years ago. It's a relevant topic years ago, but as we have seen the world of work change and going remote, hiring talent, where we, wherever, pretty much wherever we can find that talent, you know, managing that talent is very different than what it used to look like, in my opinion.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Right. Yes, absolutely. I mean, but you know, some of the underlying cultural aspects in terms of bringing the teams together, I think they're still constant. And, and in some sense, I've been talking to other people as well, you know, especially in Asia and elsewhere. So Zoom has been useful, but it's not a substitute for the direct face to face interactions.
Tim Reitsma: Well, I, I'd love to get into that a little more because there's a huge school of thought around, and a lot of opinions about just that, even that topic of, of using Zoom versus face to face and, and what does that look like.
But before we get into things, why don't you just take a moment and just tell us a little bit about who you are, a little bit about what you're up to?
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: All right, Tim. Sure, I'll be happy to.
So, I'm a retired academic business consultant specializing in international business. And over the years, I've lived in the United States for 20 plus years and in Europe for 15. So, and in the process, I have really understood the significance of culture, because the way things are done in North America is very different from that in Europe.
And originally I'm from India, which is obviously a very, very different environment in which to actually do business. So it was my own personal journey, which brought me, uh, which took me, you know, took me into different cultures and created an interest in terms of understanding culture.
And one of the biggest things in doing business is the ability to negotiate and certainly when you cross global boundaries, then international negotiations become very, very important. So that's what my earlier work was focused on, which is to, you know, so the Asian way of doing things is very different and that clearly has an impact in terms of what negotiation is, how it is to be done.
And then later on, uh, you know, I've got, or currently I've got very interested also in understanding partnerships and alliances. And in particular, uh, we know a lot of companies are forming these alliances, but a lot of them just don't seem to quite work out the way that they're dead. And the number of factors there that come into play that, again, culture is one of the elements that comes into it.
And so basically what I do is advise companies in terms of negotiation, training, coaching. And also in terms of partnerships and alliances. So, that's been my background. And, so I combined, you know, I bring both lived experience as well as, you know, practical experience, an academic experience in this subject.
Tim Reitsma: Whether it's doing business globally or building teams globally, or hiring teams around the globe, there's so much difference between cultures and, and understanding and, or even acknowledging that there's a difference between the, the way business is done in different countries and understanding the cultural norms is so, so important.
And, and it helps to build that healthy workplace.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Absolutely. And what I'm surprised is that when I started teaching as, say in the mid 80's in North America, you know, I think people were very clueless about culture and what's surprising is that 40, 45 years down the road, I think you still see the same level of cultural illiteracy in a way.
Uh, which is a little surprising because, you know, you go to any departmental store, most of the products are not made in America or in North America. So there is a lot of interaction that is taking place between companies across the globe. And you would've assumed that, that by, that that might have percolated it down below. Now, don't get me wrong.
There are some companies, some individuals who are exceptionally skilled. And this is not just a problem I think in North America, I think it's a problem in just about every country. That there is a resistance in terms of actually learning about and adapting to different cultures, or if not resistance, maybe that's a harsh word, but certainly difficulty in doing that.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, it's just one thing not to just acknowledge a difference in the, in different cultures, but also seeking to understand and seeking to bridge the differences between our cultures and.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Right. So I think acknowledging becomes difficult because it challenges your very identity.
And especially, I think if you're living in another country for an extended period of time as an expatriate, you know, I think that becomes much more salient. It is less so if you're just there on a business trip and all of it, it's probably not so relevant, but if you're living say in China, in India, in Japan, on an expat assignment, then I think you really faced a lot of adjustment issues.
And, and the interesting thing is that even now, the failure rate of expatriates is around 40%, which means 1 out of 4, 4 out of 10 assignments basically fail.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. Wow. That's a significant number.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Right. Right. It is. It is. And, well, about 20, 30 years ago it was 60%.
So it's come down a little bit, but it's still an element. And I think the other thing is that at times, for most companies and individuals, culture comes as an afterthought. So when something goes wrong, then they try to bring in consultants or whatever it is. Few companies put in the effort, investment or dedicated training to really prepare for those eventualities way before.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, it reminds me of just a, a, an organization I was involved with and we were hiring people from around the globe. You know, through the pandemic, we realized, the organization realized that, you know, we can hire talent from all over the place. And, you know, we did so in a legal way using an employer of record, but one of the byproducts was, wow, okay, we're hiring people in very different cultures than, than we have here in North America.
So I, I was brought in and, and did some consulting work around Erin Meyer's book called The Culture Map, which was really trying to understand some of the differences. Because we are having leaders saying, hey, my team won't speak up. People won't speak up. They just say yes, or, and then they never say no, like, because there's a cultural difference there.
It's maybe a hierarchical culture versus a flat culture or a culture that will address leadership in a way of saying no, I don't think you're right. So it's, you know, if you're a leader or somebody in HR that's listening to this right now, it's so, so important to even take a look at the diversity of our teams, which, you know, again, I think that might be one of the gifts of, of the pandemic, but it's so important to understand that the differences and, but train our leaders.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Absolutely. And I think what you need to do is provide training. You need to provide awareness, need to really identifies some of the potential roadblocks in adaptation. And actually above all, really create a sense of psychological safety.
Because, you know, when you're crossing cultures, you're getting out of your comfort zone. And I think one of the reasons why cross cultural adaptation gets difficult is that people are constantly being tested in terms of their comfort zone. And we know that, and for many it might be a novel or a new experience.
And in general, I think whenever there is, whenever you're exposed to something new, there is inherently initially a certain level of anxiety, which of course will dissipate over time. But, you know, the greater the difference between the, or the greater the cultural gap, the greater the potential anxiety. And once anxiety sets in, I think it also comes in the way of really trying to be able to effectively interact with someone else from that particular culture.
Tim Reitsma: Absolutely. And I think that's a good lead in into just today's topic for this podcast is, how to develop cross-cultural skills as a leader? You know, it's, it's one thing to say, Hey everyone, we've got our diverse teams now. We've got, you know, we're doing business globally, but how? How do we, what are the skills that we need to develop and how do we do that?
I think that's, that's the fundamentals here.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Sure. Absolutely. And I'll just share one story with you with someone related to me, and it just shows you what happens when you're not able to culturally decode the situation. So this gentleman was working for a Japanese company and he said there was a, an American company came to sell certain products.
And so they made their presentation and then they coded the price and there was no response from the Japanese. So there was total silence. Now the American sales manager completely misunderstood the situation. So by not, by being totally, uh, uncomfortable with silence, not understanding what was going on.
He said he came to the judgment that maybe the price that I've coded is too high. So you lower the price which, you know, you can understand from a cultural standpoint why he was doing that, because he was using his own frame of reference to make sense of that situation. But not realizing that in Japan, silence does not necessarily mean that there's no agreement. And so, uh, they were just taking their time to ponder and to arrive at a kind of a group consensus or whatever.
So, I mean, there's just one simple example of how, when you don't understand the cultural nuances, you can make errors.
Tim Reitsma: Absolutely. And, and in that case, leave margin on the table. And, you know, I had an opportunity to do some work in Japan and more on the team side of things and building a team and, and absolutely just, just the cultural differences. And I had an opportunity to more immerse myself in the business culture where, you know, it doesn't matter if it's 38 degrees outside. You're wearing your summer suit and drinking tea.
And, because it's, it's very different than here in North America where I'm sitting in my home office in a sweater and shorts. Uh, it's just very different.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Yeah. And North Americans are so focused on time and they're so uncomfortable with silence that they don't have the patience. And so to really actually absorb what's happening before taking any action.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. And so when you think of just the general cross-cultural skills as a leader, what would you say are the top skills?
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: So I think one, I would say is clearly, um, you know, I think there has to be a sense of humility, because what that means is that you are not really imposing your own particular frame of reference on the other.
In other words, there has to be an openness to learning, to respect, to recognize what the other party is bringing to the table and not just really, uh, dictated. So I think humility is important because that will allow you to learn about the culture. It will create a positive impression to the host. And I think that will be helpful in terms of building a long term relationship. So that's one thing.
I would also say, I think patience is very important. You know, because different cultures have different conceptions of time. And so in North America or, uh, Europe, a meeting is supposed to begin at 8:00, you begin at 8:00. In other cultures like in India or elsewhere, it's a much more elastic view of time. So 8:00 could be 8:30 or 9:00 . So, so at least you've got to know for it and you can negotiate it, but if you're not aware of it, then you will actually be left perplexed and confounded, and you might make 40 judgments about the other person.
Right? So, so many of these things are subject to negotiation. And I think, Erin Meyer in a book, I think describes some of the strategies in terms of dealing with these challenges. So, but you know, I think at least you need awareness and you need to be prepared to accept the fact that maybe you need to do things differently than what you have been used to doing.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, I think that's so important. That awareness, I think that's where it's, it's for me that's where it starts. I agree. Humility, patience, awareness and acceptance that, because this is how we operate here.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Yeah. Acceptance is very important. Acceptance, because you know, if you, if you make negative judgements about the other culture, then I think your interaction will go nowhere.
And I think sometimes we have a tendency, as I think there's a very famous quote from this Finnish French writer. "We do not see the world as it is. We see the world as we are." So in other words, we are judging others through our own viewpoint, through our own prism. And I think if you do that, then that can actually cause problems.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. I think it hit the nail in the head there. It's, it's so important to not just expect every culture to adapt to your one style. So if this is my style as a leader, we start meetings on time. We do this, we celebrate these via holidays. We do X, Y, or Z, but it's also understanding, seeking to understand how does that affect others and then coming to that common ground, but creating that common language around how we work.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Absolutely. Yes. And that requires a certain sense of respect and also I think being nonjudgmental. And I think the problem is that instinctively, the human mind wants to control and we operate on the basis of our mind most of the time. And the mind wants control because control gives predictability.
And the problem then is that if you're in a novel situation, you may try to predict something, but you do not have all the information. So you may end up making, uh, wrong judgments, like this gentleman did about the Japanese silence. So you've got to, you have to give a greater latitude. In your own culture, you're probably better positioned to understand what a person says or does based on his or her reactions.
But in a novel culture, you are not that familiar with the culture and unless you have become an expert or knowledgeable, you know, it behooves to suspend judgment till the time that you have all the information, or not all of the information, but as much of the information as you can.
Tim Reitsma: So I think, you know, from the perspective of somebody who might be listening who, who is an HR professional or a leader in an organization and has hired around the globe who has a very diverse work team now, or, or team that reports to them, where do they start? So they, you know, I understand, you know, I am a part of the People Managing People team, there's someone who lives in Spain, originally from the UK.
I have somebody in Indonesia, a few people here in Canada, along with me. So we, even we're a small team, but quite a diverse team. And so I know there's cultural differences, but aside from saying, oh, you just need to make time to understand. What, what advice would you give someone even like myself to, to really understand and how to develop those cross-cultural leaders?
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Okay. So, you know, so suppose you're working in five or six, seven or eight different countries and you have offices there. So I think the first thing is that the leaders in those offices, I mean, you've got to choose the right people. And you've got to actually bring them up, or really socialize them to the corporate culture in terms of, uh, you know what your expectations are and what you would like or would like the way in which the subsidiary were to function.
And then of course, I think you've got to listen to the local people as well. You can't just have a top down approach. And so I think you need local input, but of course, at the same time, you can try to put a stamp on the culture itself. So they always talk about adaptation, but adaptation does not mean that you adapt to everything. So I, so that then becomes an issue of really developing the right kind of culture and within that particular organization.
And then over time, I think you transfer people from different subsidiaries, you rotate people around, you travel to different places. Uh, you know, so that people see you, you build connections, you build relationships. And so the locals see you, you see them, you give them the opportunity to move elsewhere.
You know, so you're building, uh, you're building a kind of team. And in terms of building a team, you're giving a direction, but you're also listening to local input and you are creating different situations in different countries based on the unique context and challenges, but within the framework of a more broader overall corporate culture.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, I think that's something that's key is, is the corporate culture. What type of culture are you wanting to create? And it's that intentionality behind the culture where, you know, whether in the, in your example, where if you have subsidiaries around the globe or you just have people sitting in their home offices or in a co-working space around the globe. What type of culture are we trying to create in our organizations? And, and that's key.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Right. And you've got to travel. You've got to travel consistently because people in different places want to see you. They want to connect with you. And I think, especially in Asia, Latin America, where relationships play a very, very important role.
I think, you know, getting to know people is important. And I think that becomes very, very critical as well.
Tim Reitsma: No, I, I absolutely agree. I know here at People Managing People, we belong to, uh, we're part of a larger organization called Black and White Zebra or BWZ.com. And we are all getting together, maybe by the time this episode, or maybe by the time you've listened to this, we've already gotten together at our first global summit.
So pulling everybody around and, from around the globe into one place. I think it's, I'm looking forward to it because we're able to connect with people that we've only seen through Zoom or through a Google Meet.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Sure, absolutely. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Yeah. I mean, you know, that, that is absolutely critical and based, you know, you've lived in Japan for a while.
It's all about relationships, right? So, uh, there's no business without relationship. So, you know, that becomes absolutely critical.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, I think from opportunities I've had to help support teams in various places around the globe. There's one constant that I have found, which is exactly what you said, relationship. It's taking, you know, sure, we, we have to get work done. We have to, you know, build profitable businesses and high performing teams. But building that relationship is so critical. It's so key.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: It is, it is. And it takes a lot of time, effort. It's not easy, but I think it is absolutely essential if, you know, if, if that thing is going to succeed.
And I think one of the things I've seen is that a lot of, a lot of global companies, you know, they have operations everywhere, but they don't actually pay that much attention to local input. At times, I think it's understandable, but, you know, I think, uh, it can also be a problem.
Tim Reitsma: Local input is, again, in my opinion, it's so important, but have you ever heard of something or an example of, you know, where a business was looking to change or transform, but didn't take into consideration that local input?
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Right. So I think if I'm not mistaken, uh, I read about it a while ago. Amazon exited from China. And I think one of the problems was that there was a dysfunction between the top management teams and the local input. Apparently, there's a certain lack of trust and it didn't quite really go, go that well.
And GM exited from India after 21 years. So, uh, there's said nine managers over that period of time, which is meaning an average tenure being three years, which is too short to really learn about the culture, whatever. And they exited from India because they couldn't make money.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. Yeah. If it's just the assumption of, Hey, we're gonna go into, and we're gonna now take business into a new country or we're gonna go and, and build a team in a new country.
It's not just a matter of, okay, you're gonna do it my way. And in this case, I'm sitting in North America, you know.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Right. So you've got to re you, that's why, you know, you've really got to really understand. And there've been number of Walmart withdrew from Germany because they didn't really understand the local context of the British, uh, retailer.
I think Tesco has came to the US. And if I'm not mistaken, they did not succeed. So all of this in a way also gets back to preparation. You know, prepare, prepare, prepare. And preparation is not just about understanding the market and all of those characteristics, but also understanding the local cultural and political intricacies that might be relevant in, in different situations.
Tim Reitsma: It's so key.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Yeah. And sometimes that's not given enough attention.
Tim Reitsma: No. I, I agree. I, uh, I remember I was helping this one organization and they had found a very talented person. I won't say which country in Europe, but in Europe and really struggling to fill this position, found somebody and said, okay, we'll just make them an offer.
Well, turns out that the cultural differences and even just the legal differences were, were enormous and the company had to take a pause and go, okay, are we willing to take this risk? And they ultimately did. But it's not just a matter of, Hey, we're gonna hire a talent in any country in the world.
I mean, there's, there's also the, like you said the geopolitical or the legal landscape that you need to understand. Whether that's hiring talent, doing business, building or creating a new office somewhere. It's easy to say, oh, well we just found good talent. We'll just hire 'em as a contractor in that specific country.
While even in that case, hiring somebody as a contractor versus an employee is, you may run yourself into some hot water. I've heard numerous stories of companies getting into trouble, falling into that.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: And you know, if you take a look at the global environment right now, it's very uncertain. There are a lot of tensions and, you know, you're seeing countries withdrawing. And, you know, so you're seeing to some extent a fragmentation of the global order.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. It's, you know, like I said at the top of the, the episode, you know, one of the things that's through this pandemic that we've lived through is a, is a globalized workforce, but is that sustainable?
Do we have the systems and practices in place to bring people together? Even in that case, I've heard of companies trying to bring people together and not realizing that it might take a certain, certain countries a year or two just to get a visa to get into another country. And so it's, there's a lot of nuances that we need to understand, not just from a personal respect and a personal get to know relationship.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Absolutely. I'll share with you another examples of someone related this to me. So they have a software business in India, and so they're having, uh, they're having difficulties in recruiting. Well, you recruit people, but there's a high degree of attrition rate.
Yes? Uh, but the other problem and a challenging one is that a lot of bear star. And it's not unique to this company. It's probably true for other companies as well. They all want to come to the US. So how can this company make a career, uh, path for each of the employees to come to the US?
Tim Reitsma: Very challenging.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: And yet that's what some of the recruits expect when they join the local subsidiary.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. Is that opportunity, right, to.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Yeah, well, you know, I mean, because I, this is not new for, for a long, long time. Everyone has thought about America as the place to come to realize your dreams, you know, so everyone wants to come here more than so, you know, uh, one of the challenges.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. And it's a, as again, as you're hiring potentially around the globe is clearly communicating that, I don't want to use the word expectations, but clearly communicating what's, what the job is about, the opportunities within the role.
But also then on the other side, like you had alluded to throughout this episode is just that the nuances of the culture, where, where you might be bringing that person on board. So, just because I say it, doesn't mean you understand it or doesn't mean that it resonates or it, it lands.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Right. And, you know, and I think, uh, yeah, absolutely. And you have to recognize that even in a global company, there will be some, you know, so I'll give you another example.
And this came out in Washington Post, so Google, they had hired, you know, diversity trainer to come and talk about the caste system in India. And so there are a lot of Indian engineers in Google and, uh, and I think some of them complained because they felt it would create more acrimony.
Tim Reitsma: Wow.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: So then Google decided to cancel this woman's stock.
Tim Reitsma: Wow.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: So this is public. I saw this came out in Washington post.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: So.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. Good intentions, just didn't, uh.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Right. So, so culture is very elusive as well, because people can become very, very defensive.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, it's true and it's, it takes time.
And as you said, even from one of, some of the top skills, you know, for anybody who's listening, is that humility, patience. You know, don't, we, we all have our unconscious bias and we need to become conscious of those unconscious bias and, and even challenge our thoughts and challenge the way we're thinking when it comes to a lot of things.
But when it comes to culture.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: And the other thing is that each country thinks that their way of doing things is the best. So you must have heard of a phrase in America, American exceptionalism, which has guided American foreign policy and all for a long, long time. What about Canada? Do they have something, uh, along those lines?
Tim Reitsma: Um, I think so. It's, you know, I'm sitting in Vancouver and we listen to, or watch some news that's coming out of the US or at other places around the globe and think, oh, we, we've got it the best. Or even, you know, we think we've got universal healthcare and, but, you know, we could.
Don't get me started on the healthcare system, but just because it's part of our, our taxation doesn't mean it's the best, but absolutely, I think.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Right. So that's one of the things by definition people in each country are retina centric. They think that their ways of doing things is the best. So why should we adapt?
Tim Reitsma: Yeah.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: And that becomes the challenge.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. If we approach this global workforce doing business globally from a closed mindset, "my way is the best way", we will run into resistance. We're gonna be run into problem. Yeah.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Then you're in a problem. Then you know what we'll do is you will, the other person will resist you.
Tim Reitsma: Yup. Absolutely.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: And that will then, uh, that will then escalate the crisis.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah, absolutely.
Well, Dr. Kumar, it's been a real interesting conversation. And I think, you know, we could go on for hours, I think on this, because there's so many directions we can take this, but for someone who is listening, maybe they're sitting in their car or on transit, listening to this on their way to work and knowing that they have a global workforce or are hiring around the globe.
What is one thing that somebody needs to start doing today when they're thinking about globalization or thinking about their global workforce?
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: I think the first thing they need to do is really, uh, assess what their needs are, assess where they are currently positioned and also do an assessment in terms of what they need to be doing.
And in terms of what is the cultural capability of the organization currently. And what is the level they would like it to be based on their strategy and their vision for the company. So they need to do a cultural audit.
Tim Reitsma: That's so good. I think it starts, yeah, exactly with that assessment and, you know, not jumping to a solution right away.
And you know, if somebody I know reached out to me and said, Hey, I'm here North America, my team is in Europe. There's a cultural mismatch here. And so right away it's, well, you think there's a mismatch. Does your team think there's a mismatch? Because maybe they're all fine, but it's just their way of, of operating is different than how you're used to.
So, and so I think it's understanding those, maybe those, the cultural nuances.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Understanding those differences and, and then, you know, working around that.
Tim Reitsma: Starting that conversation is so important, right? And it's just that, I like what you said earlier, too, it's like from a culture perspective or from, you know, a country perspective, it's not that our way is the best way, cuz we all think that. It doesn't matter if I was sitting here or Japan or Germany or wherever, it's.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Exactly. And that's what creates the problem.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. I think it's just starting that conversation, normalizing that conversation. And so, I know you, you do some work in this space, you do some coaching and consulting and, how can people reach you? And if they're interested more.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: So they can reach me through my website or, uh, through the, my LinkedIn.
Tim Reitsma: Okay, which we'll also include both of those in the show notes once we get this episode up and, and for those who are listening and are realizing, or do know that they have the opportunity to develop some cross cultural skills, especially from a leadership perspective, please head over to Dr. Kumar sites.
Check out his LinkedIn. But also, you know, if you're looking for a great book called, a book that I've really enjoyed and I know it's been out for quite a while, is, is Erin Meyer's book, The Culture Map, which we'll also put a link to.
So with that, Dr. Kumar, thanks for coming on the episode today and, and talking to us about globalized workforces.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar: Thank you, Tim. Thank you for inviting me.
Tim Reitsma: Yeah. And for those who are listening, as always, always love to hear your feedback. Please send me an email at Tim@peoplemanagingpeople.com or head over to LinkedIn, and you can connect with me there.
And thank you again for coming on. And for those who, who are going about their work day, I hope you have a good one.