What we know for sure (based on our experience):
We know that if you listen hard enough, you will find these kinds of statements in your company.
We know the issues raised span all levels of organization, and all types of business relationships.
We know that these kinds of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and gaps between intent and impact create waste, delays, barriers to effective teamwork and sabotage desired business results.
We believe that letting things continue and hoping that in time cultural problems will be worked out will only make things worse, i.e., if not addressed these negative cultural perceptions can seriously damage an organization’s business success.
TO SEE HOW WE CAN ADDRESS YOUR CROSS CULTURAL NEEDS
Actual quotes from clients (recorded during the needs assessment stage) – the cost of cultural misunderstandings
VP HR of a Global company that acquired an Israeli start-up, in charge of integration
We started with good intentions on both sides, we admired the Israelis for with their innovation, thinking out of the box and technical know and we knew they desperately needed what we had to offer and saw the M&A as a good thing. Very quickly things went sour, the Israelis would fight us on every suggestion, they became territorial and very aggressive. They were not prepared to concede the ‘driving seat’, it was their way or no way, they behaved as if they knew best and needed to teach us. Negotiations over small details would take forever and when we thought we finally reached a solution, they would bring up a new idea. Our people began to resent the meetings and tried to get out of travel to Israel. We ended up outsourcing most of the negotiations and reduced interactions as much as we could. This was not what we envisioned when we started the process”
“I don’t know how the managers there get any work done. Every time I don’t give my Israeli colleagues a positive answer, they cc their supervisor, who goes over my head to my supervisor. Aside from making things complicated and unpleasant for me, it just wastes time and energy. I spend all my time justifying my responses, instead of doing my job. Then they get upset that I don’t meet the deadline, and that I’m not so nice to them the next time they ask for something”
Project Manager at a high tech Fortune 500 company
“I always thought this cross cultural stuff wasn’t relevant to us. After all, Israelis and the British are very similar. We are well versed in Monty Pithon comedy and watch Downton Abbey. It’s not like working with China or Korea, and we’ve been working together for years.
All this changed the first time I participated in a conference call with Israel after I relocated to our Cambridge offices. I saw the British colleague’s reaction to the Israelis. I knew the guys in Israel. I knew their intentions, and for the first time I saw the impact of what and how they said things. It didn’t come out like they intended. It was a disaster – nothing made sense, nothing sounded right. All of a sudden the Israelis sounded aggressive, rude and confrontational.
The British colleagues held back, they were clearly uncomfortable, they became defensive – nothing was accomplished. I felt as if everything was lost; there was no way we were going to meet our goals.”
Head of Finance in the Israeli branch of a pharmaceutical company
“I absolutely hate working with the Americans. They are so stuck on their procedures, they see nothing else. They aren’t concerned with the big picture. If you don’t follow the exact process, they aren’t going to recognize what you did.
Every time they don’t want to do something, they use “Sarbanes Oxley” as a shield. Instead of doing some work and thinking creatively, they hide behind the rules and regulations. It’s like a wall you can’t get through.”
What really happened to an Israeli CFO sent from Israel to the U.S….
“On one of my first days on the job – I was talking to the CEO in the corridor. I saw the VP of Marketing at the other end of the office. Since the discussion concerned her role I called her to come and join us gesturing with my hand. The next day I was called into HR and told that a complaint has been filled against me by the VP and my job is at risk.”
“I find it demoralizing working with the Israelis. They are so pessimistic; always sure nothing will work or come out right. Instead of motivating the team, they bring us down. And when there is a success – they don’t reward you. They act like they expected things to work out, and it is no big deal. They are already complaining about the next project.”