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News Story:

How to be successful in a global company

 

How to be successful in a global company

What are the skills and experience required to work as a manager in a global company?


Michelle Mielly, managerial development expert and director of the MSc in Management Consulting at Grenoble Ecole de Management explains what it takes to be a successful manager.

 
In my courses on intercultural management we promote the role of the manager in this complex economy as that of the transformations catalyst. Daniel Pink refers to the ‘Conceptual Economy’ in which we are living and working in Western countries, meaning that the shift from knowledge to concept workers requires a shift in the way we actually build and transmit knowledge. The manager needs to be able to manage organisational transformations and create agility and resiliency because that’s what customers and consumers want—leaner, more streamlined processes to get the job done. So the horizon needs continuous scanning in order to find the optimal combinations of resources and strategies.

What are the skills of this new type of manager? I’d say there are few we do not traditionally promote in management studies.
The most important one to me is that of increased Ambiguity Tolerance: in other words, the ability to navigate in very ambiguous and changing work environments and tolerate, even thrive, in the uncertainty. It’s a requisite skill of any international manager or team member, and because we are integrated globally, the need for highly ambiguity-tolerant managers has moved to all sorts of organisations.

Following from ambiguity tolerance is heightened Cultural Intelligence, or CQ, a form of Emotional intelligence coupled with cultural knowledge and communication & adaptation skills. Cultural intelligence can be gained from experience in international environments where diversity is high and the potential for conflict is too. These environments require some mental and managerial agility.
It means that once a manager has accepted change and transformation as the norm, there is no longer the strong resistance to change and the clinging to tradition, which has made Change Management a cash cow for most big management consultancies.    
Managers are then ready to adapt their communication styles as well as their managerial practices to the environment at hand. In concrete terms, a manager of Malays will not be able to trigger the same motivational levers of his workers as the same manager in Saudi Arabia. So finding the right approach to incentives and compensation, as well as simple keys to managing performance, will depend on the ability of the manager to understand the deep cultural differences that do exist in order to adapt his/her practices appropriately. It really does begin at an individual awareness level, and it then streams down and across to the rest of the organisation. There are broader corporate level directives, but the local manager always has to do local translation work. There just is not a one-size-fits-all approach to global team management.

Finally, the notion of the empathic manager is starting to appear everywhere—a focus on the customer experience, the study of ergonomics linked to industrial design itself shows us that design is a form of empathy which pervades the products we use every day. Technology has connected us to people all over the world, time and space have most certainly become compressed through the development of the internet and mobile telephones, and managers today cannot rely on strong ethnocentric values systems which reflect only those values of his or her immediate countrymen.
 


Today, managers have to empathise with minority workers (women, disabled workers, ethnic, religious, tribal cleavages) and integrate them into a larger fabric of the organisation. Most organisations are implementing muscular diversity policies which require a re thinking of the ‘majority’ and the ‘minority’ and question the assumptions and stereotypes existing on those special interest groups. This impacts hiring practices, annual performance reviews, labour laws, and best practices in general. Otherwise stated, a question in one country in a job interview may actually be illegal or dangerous to ask in another country. The manager today has to not only be aware of the differences for legal reasons, but also has to demonstrate empathy, or a willingness to identify with his or her team members, in order to be seen as legitimate in an international role.

 

Michelle Mielly is a director of the MSc in Management Consulting at Grenoble Ecole de Management, France
She is also an expert on Emerging Economies Business, Sustainable Development, Personal and Managerial Development.

Useful links

 

Executive education - http://www.grenoble-em.com/247-executive-education-2.aspx

MSc in Management Consulting -  http://www.grenoble-em.com/1191-master-of-science-in-management-consulting-2.aspx


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