Everyone is the same different

Twenty years prior to this, globalization was only a charming vision. There were companies who had succeeded in going global, of course, but their numbers were few. It seems to me that globalization which picked up its pace with the addition of internet technology to our lives is now our complete reality. Even the local’s value increases directly proportionally now to its power on the global market. Developing new and different markets ignites pace and amount of production. Now a very important part of competition is being ‘worldly’. Well, have you ever considered that being worldly simultaneously means to be able to manage differences, that managing differences require a cultural change and that it is not as easy as it seems?

Companies that feed off of differences

If you look at the contents of studies on employee engagement, you will definitely come across concepts such as comprehensiveness, management of differences, equality. These are essential factors that establish and solidify employee engagement. Differences enrich the work and the workplace, yes, but there are various complications that cultural differences can bring about. Cultural differences may cause conflicts. This clash environment causes performance, and naturally productivity as well, to decrease. What is it that causes the conflict? Different traditions, cultural habits, manners, behaviors and unfortunately, the norms imposed on us for decades… Before and beyond all this comes ignorance, which I will especially underline. In truth, ignorance is the insidious beast sleeping under every evil and conflict in the world. It dirties your corporate atmosphere, cripples teamwork, and prevents you from working well with other, different people/markets/companies. In short, it stops you. The ones creating conflict may look human to you, but they are simply reflections of your culture.

Differences starting with communication

During the first few years I started working as a coach in the Engage & Grow team I had felt that my colleagues from different cultures enriched my perspectives on work and people exponentially. Our job was to connect people to each other, to their work and their companies, so all our senses worked and improved towards this. This growth changed completely the way I viewed the companies in my own market as well. While meeting with my teammates at Spain in the morning and connecting to our headquarters in Australia in the wee hours of the night, we had started living not only the psychological but also the physical reflections of being different. Morning in one continent, midnight in another. National holiday in one country, regular workday in another. One a Muslim country, another region is on Christmas break. Some prefer not to work after-hours at all, others work at night and want to share when an idea hits them☺. When we run into each other in one country or another some of us hug in delight – I mean pre-Covid-19 – while others prefer cool and collected handshakes. We are all the same and so very different. This enriches us, and of course brings along a responsibility to consider many sensitivities at once at all times. And this does not happen with simply saying “we grow with differences,” it is necessary to make it part of the culture to embrace differences.

Look inside, what do you see in you?

Look both inside yourself and inside your company. Take time, in fact grab a magnifying glass and stare at it long and hard.

  • To be able to manage differences one’s inner scales of justice must be immaculately balanced. Are you certain your are?
  • Even if with good intentions, do you tend to try and provide convenience to your female colleagues considering that they may have trouble doing certain tasks?
  • Are you sure that cultural differences between your employees are important for the work and that for both sides it can be easy to misunderstand one another?
  • Do you evaluate feedback from a customer with a foreign cultural background within the frame of their own cultural habits , or are you heatedly defending yourself?
  • Have you ever considered that someone who doesn’t show the reaction you had expected is from a culture where emotions are suppressed more than they are expressed?
  • Are the profiles of your employees and customers surprisingly similar? Is this due to your preferences or some miraculous coincidence?
  • Take a look at the points you say ‘These are my limits.’ Is it values or definitions in the forefront of these decisions?

I know the answers to these questions are not at all easy. Neither is building a comprehensive company culture… When you look at companies who have managed to do so, aren’t you fascinated by the color and light that they exude? Because they are beautiful to behold.

Isik Serifsoy

CEO Engage & Grow

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