Building efficient any-to-any Bridges

Modern technology makes instant communication accessible and easy. People communicate a lot, but don't always manage to get the information they need most. Why is that?

Rather than freely flowing vertically and horizontally and in both directions, information still seems to get stuck in hierarchies and also by geographical borders. Relevant information available at the bottom doesn't reach certain higher levels of decision-making. Certain decisions made at higher levels take forever to trickle down. One geographical location doesn't know what's happening in another. Headquarters produce directives which won't work in certain cultures. It seems almost as if physical distance between people's offices plays a key role in effective communication.

Virtual teams are supposed to alleviate this problem, bringing people together virtually. Yet, observations show that email communication as a primary tool combined with sporadic video conferences isn't doing the job. Why is that?

Repeatable observations show that when people located in different geographies get to know each other and the other cultures, have frequent exchanges besides email, feel fully integrated into one single team besides drastically different time zones, we end up with the equivalent of people working in adjacent cubicles and communication is flowing effectively again. This takes care of the closeness of the communication.
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High-Context & Low-Context Communication

Closeness and frequency of communication alone do not seem to alleviate major misunderstandings, missed deadlines, wrong prioritization or devastating remote decisions. This seems to be the main reason why American, German and French companies in particular prefer centralized decisions. This however opposes the principle of closeness of the communication and leads to well known inefficiencies and costly mistakes linked to a lacking knowledge of cultures.

It is necessary to look at what is being communicated in each direction and what is left out. Communication awareness is not a given for most decision-makers, executives or leaders.

Are you clear on the big picture and communicating merely the details you want executed? Do you assume the other person knows what's going on in your head, adding to the fact that you may have never met the other person physically at the other end of the globe?

Or are you focused on details, hoping to make your superiors happy, but don't fully understand their final objective, their motivations and how your actions fit into their overall plan?

"How do the discussed logistical measures fit into the overall strategy? How can we prioritize locally here, based on new findings, without having to go back for each blocking question when we work 9-15 timezones apart? How is being efficient here possible? How do we all stay motivated and productive?" may be questions on the other side of the ocean.
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Furthermore each geographical culture values different behavior, in addition to the intricacies of a foreign native language and translation into English.

Language is a means to get across meaning, which in turn leads to action, which in turn hopefully leads to desired results. We omit things which we take for granted in order to become more efficient. Closeness of communication eventually helps people learn how their peers on a global team and leaders think, feel about things and what matters most to them. And yet reconstructing the communication chain with all the deleted information becomes a necessity, at least during the first 6 months.

Speak the otherโ€™s โ€œLanguageโ€ - not a 1000 words

Cultural knowledge or at least cultural empathy helps see clearly when communicating with people across the globe. Cultural empathy, similarly to "People-Awareness" can be developed by living and working in various foreign countries or by adequate local training workshops.

While it is rarely necessary in today's globalized world to speak another language besides English when working with teams of one's own company abroad, it is always useful to consult with someone knowledgeable of the local language and culture when conducting important business abroad.

What is deemed important here is not the "actual language" such as English, Mandarin, or French, but to become aware of one's own presuppositions, omissions and generalizations normally present during communication. Then it becomes easier to fill in the necessary high-context as well as to clarify the specific low-context information. In addition one becomes aware of how to ask questions so as to find relevant information from the other person otherwise missed. The result is true bilateral communication without cultural deletions or generalizations.
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Walking your Talk

The most important aspect of communication is consistency and congruency. Your actions speak louder than your words.

An executive insisting on something being done with urgency and then people on the other side of the globe hearing that their extra efforts did not make it towards any noticeable impact will be interpreted as demotivating and discourage future heroic efforts. A person making promises or reassuring people and not keeping one's word can be devastating.

Aligning people towards a strategically necessary outcome, succeeding in getting their hard work and commitment, and later compromising the strategy by various tactical decisions or by playing it safe politically, will likely be seen as betrayal, discrediting the executive who aligned the people to begin with.

While the above examples apply just as much to local organizations, the risk of ending up not walking one's talk is greater when communication across geographies and cultures is subject to delicate misinterpretations.
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1-on-1 & Group Coaching

Coaching is different from Mentoring, because we don't tell experienced people what to do. Instead we help them make new connections, see new ways, so they can come up with solutions even better than we could imagine. It's the best possible teamwork! People can’t imagine beforehand how they will grow.

Workshops & Retreats

Decision Makers, Leaders and Managers benefit greatly from understanding how People-Awareness, Self-Awareness, Leadership and Communication all play together towards long-term company success. We co-facilitate Retreats around company-specific challenges and goals in addition to our Workshops.

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