New era managers have to be culture agnostic

New era managers have to be culture agnostic

New era managers have to be culture agnostic

Products manufactured in one part of the world, retail in another corner and services rendered to consumers in one geographical area are actually being rendered from across seven seas.

There are more transnational and multinational corporations today than have been in the past and corporations are leveraging cross-cultural talent to optimise resources.

As managers of global businesses, one’s ability to understand, embrace and operate in a multicultural world — both in the marketplace and in the workplace — is critical to the long-term success of an enterprise. Managing diversity focuses on maximising the ability of all employees to contribute to organisational goals.

With time, companies have also realised the importance of cultural diversity at the workplace. There are many organisations even today, which view diversity as primarily a legal obligation while there were pioneers in the late 70’s and 80’s who aimed to integrate the need for diversity almost akin to a business strategy.

We understand the growing need for a diverse work force which provides a platform for a wider customer/market reach, greater innovation and explosive growth potential.

Thus it is beneficial to both the employees as well as the employers to translate into higher retention, improved morale –which significantly impact both the top line and the bottom line.

Culture is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors shared by a group of people. Keeping the requirement in mind, the working culture must inherently create an environment where such behaviours and abilities are imbibed. The international assignment --- both short and long term --- must sometimes be for business exposure and sometimes just for a cultural exchange.

Human resource management confronts a lot of existing and future challenges while working with employees like issues related with diversity, yield, health and safety and benefits.

Managing diversity is defined as planning and implementing organisational systems and practices to manage people so that the potential advantages of diversity are maximized while its potential disadvantages are minimised.

Today’s businesses are creating new era managers – people that can move beyond geographies. Organisations of the day are diligently working towards the development of Human Capital, who are trained and equipped with skill sets in one location, but have a role and relevance to other geographies as well. 

Managers are also being trained on soft skills – cultural sensitivity, globally accepted work practices, even food habits. It is no longer a surprise to get an international assignment; the success lies in being able to carry people along in different parts of the world.

The Coca-Cola Company values international exposure and over the last three years, our office in India alone has sent 33 Managers on international assignments like Vietnam and USA to Ethiopia and Switzerland. Likewise several of the Company Executives from across the world have taken assignments in India thereby bringing domain expertise and best practices from across the world.

Our working culture inheritably creates an environment where such behaviours and abilities are imbibed. Our international assignments are both short and long term, sometime for business exposure and sometimes just for cultural exchange.

Attributes like open mindedness, adaptability and sensitivity to other cultures, good listening skills, good negotiation skills, managing diversity of thoughts and people, building relationships quickly, generating collaborations, ability to work with cross-functional teams and above all a strong EQ are critical to perform well in international jobs or assignments.

Our human resource team partners with employees and their managers in creating development plans, providing training and interventions via constant feedback tools, executive coaching, assessment centers and on-the-job projects to prepare them for future roles. We follow a systematic approach to enrich and develop talent.

In summary, globally mobile managers are bringing about a paradigm shift but they owe their success to being culturally agnostic and adaptable. And the successful organizations have supportive practices and framework to promote it.

(The writer is  Vice President, Human Resource, Coca-Cola India and SWA)