Bridging Cultural Differences with The Culture Map
Updated: May 23
Moving to Hong Kong in 2008 as a manager, I assumed that my French perspective of the world and my egalitarian management style would be well-suited to my new local team.
However, I soon realized that I was wrong and learned the hard way that cultural differences have a significant impact on communication, feedback, leadership, decision-making, trust-building, disagreement, and scheduling.
I wished that I had:
Reflected on my cultural biases
Learned to decode signs of other cultures before jumping into my Asian adventure.
As a manager, coach, and trainer, I found Erin Meyer's book, The Culture Map, tremendously helpful. It provided me with a framework to better understand cultural differences and how they impact team dynamics.
During our recent coaching certification program, we used The Culture Map to explore cultural differences. I asked each participant to position themselves on an imaginary scale on the floor for each of the dimensions:
The conversations were eye-opening.
1️⃣Communicating: How people express themselves, how direct or indirect their communication style tends to be.
2️⃣Evaluating: How people give and receive feedback, and whether they tend to be more frank or diplomatic in their communication.
3️⃣Leading: How people approach authority, and whether they prefer a hierarchical or egalitarian leadership style.
4️⃣ Deciding: How people make decisions, and whether they tend be top-down or consensual.
5️⃣Trusting: How people build and maintain trust, whether it is more relationship-based or task-based.
6️⃣Disagreeing: How people disagree and whether they tend to avoid confrontations or not.
7️⃣ Scheduling: How people view time, and whether they prioritize punctuality or flexibility. Here is our Culture Map:
How do cultural differences impact your team?