A recent post on how to be a better global collaborator over on the HBR Blogs had some really great tips for those Supply Management professionals working with their global counterparts. My favourite tips were:
- Be Prepared to Be Uncomfortable
At least one of your global counterparts will speak or act in a way that makes you uncomfortable on a regular basis, and won’t even notice it because it’s normal behaviour for him. For example, he might get way too close in a conversation or always try to dominate the conversation.
- Be Aware of the effect of Your Actions
Similarly, there will be at least one global counterpart who will be uncomfortable with the way you speak or act from day one, and you will need to observe which communications or actions make that person uncomfortable and try to deliver them in ways that are less imposing to that person to foster a working relationship.
- Prototypes are Not Perfect
Your training classes will train you on the attitudes and behaviour of the average person. There is no average person. Maybe you were told that your Chinese counterparts would be relatively “shy”. And while most Chinese counterparts who are in subordinate positions might act “shy”, there are Chinese people who are very outgoing and aggressive. Be prepared to adapt to the personality and not the person.
- Be curious
Show an interest in them and their culture. Just remember what topics are sensitive and stick to the safe topics at first.
I’d recommend checking out the post on how to be a better collaborator. I know it’s worth your time.