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Bridging Cultural Differences with The Culture Map

Updated: May 23, 2023

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:

  1. Reflected on my cultural biases

  2. 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?

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