Cross cultural management is a relatively new field of research and is based on theories and research from cross cultural psychology to human resources to organizational behaviour. Cross cultural management attempts to understand how the cultures of different nationalities affect management practises. It focuses on identifying similarities and differences in the various management styles and organisational settings. The literature in Cross Cultural Management is a tool to help members of an organisation, such as managers and members of human resource departments gain a better understanding of the cultures of all those working in the organisation and the positive and negatives of having such a culturally diverse workforce. It is important to be aware and respectful of the different elements of individual cultures, from the way they communicate to how they receive criticism. By respecting different cultures you begin to foster a workplace where people feel safe, happy and able to do their job in an environment that supports and encourages them to do so. In 1980, Professor Geert Hofstede published a book called ‘Culture’s Consequences’. He is credited with being the founder of comparative intercultural research. Hofstede is credited with creating the ‘cultural dimension theory’, a theory consisting of six cultural dimensions that can be applied to people of any country. This will be the basis of this report in relation to mutual respect between employers and employees.
There is a wide variety of research being carried out on the various areas in cross cultural management. This literary review will discuss and critique the current literature surrounding Respect in relation to cross cultural management and psychology. The current literature focuses on a number of aspects to do with respect; from the effect that a good leader can have on a team, to the effects of workplace bullying, to the effects that monetary and intrinsic rewards can have on a workforce. Ellingsen and Johnannesson, 2007 describes the effects of monetary as against intrinsic rewards for work and how it impacts on the respect employees have for their employers. Their research critically explains, using empirical evidence, that intrinsic rewards tend to have a better effect on work than monetary rewards like raises or bonuses. In a world that is becoming more and more culturally diverse, Maeso presents ways to establish a culture of respect, offering concrete ways a leader can create a safe and respectful workplace environment. Her arguments are based on real life experiences and offer a personal touch to the points she is trying to convey. Rusell et al. presents research carried out on the factors that lead to work related stress amongst employees in Ireland. While, Leka and Jain discuss the negative effects of stress on the day to day running of the workplace. Rogers, 2018 answers the important question of ‘do your employees feel respected?’, by putting forward clear examples of employees that feel respected she gives concrete examples fellow leaders can learn from. LLopis, 2013 does the same, putting forward clear ways managers can earn the respect of your employees. All this research seeks to understand the relationship between employees and employers in relation to the respect that they hold for one another. As managers, it is important to constantly show respect to your employees, but it should be noted that there are two kinds of respect that can be shown – owed respect and earned respect (Rogers, 2018). Owed respect is the base level of respect that should be shown to all members of an organisation from the CEO to your employees, to the cleaners (Rogers, 2018). While earned respect is given to employees who have shown qualities, behaviours and attitudes that are valued by the organisation (Rogers, 2018). Earned respect means more than owed respect because it acknowledges that each employee has their own capabilities and attributes that they bring to the company (Rogers, 2018). Managers have a delicate line to tow when it comes to showing earned respect to employees (Rogers, 2018). If a manager shows too much respect for one employee over another it can cause anger and annoyance among the other workers and can prevent them from giving feedback on their successes and failures to managers and other employees (Rogers, 2018). In situations like this transparency is a key tool in communicating to your employees why certain coworkers may be shown more earned respect than others (Rogers, 2018) (Lavoie, 2015).
Respect can be shown in a number of ways. In work it can be through monetary rewards like end of year bonuses or non monetary rewards like more responsibilities, more decision making power or acknowledgement of work done (Ellingsen & Johannesson, 2007). Though it is true that employees enjoy monetary rewards for their success, more often than not they get great satisfaction out of what others think of them. In a study by Markham et al. on 1100 employees in four cut-and-sew factories across the mid atlantic area, they found that when employees were publicly recognised, praised and given awards for having a perfect or near perfect attendance recorded over a period of a year, worker absenteeism decreased by approximately 40 percent. The program was well received by workers as they were given rewards in front of all the workers at a plant wide meeting. Acknowledgement of work done can be displayed for the whole company to see, like the example above or it can be more personal like direct positive feedback from managers in one on one meetings (Rogers, 2018). Respect can be as simple as showing you employees you care, it can be as little as showing interest in their personal life, for example asking how their weekend was or sending them an email once a project is done to thank them for their hard work or it can be as big as a monetary reward for hard work done during a period (Hall, 2014) (Ellingsen & Johannesson, 2007). While showing respect is important for employees’ satisfaction, one way in which your employees may feel a level of disrespect is through micromanaging. A way to show respect to your employee would be to give them a task and let them do it, praising them when work is done well and offering constructive criticism when not done well (Ellingsen & Johannesson, 2007).
How respect can benefit a manager?
To be able to show respect to your employees, you first have to earn their respect. In a world were bad bosses often leave employees wary when they join a new company, it is extremely important from the beginning to earn the respect of your employees. But how can you, as a busy manager, do so? As a leader, there are a number of ways in which you can earn respect from your employees. The most important way to do so is to become engaged with the work your employees are doing, getting involved rather than expecting your employees to do all the work (Llopis, 2013). As a manager, it is crucial to lead by example, set the standard you expect from your employees and hold yourself just as accountable as you would your employees (Llopis, 2013). It is important to get to know your employees and discover the best in them and enable them to reach their full potential (Llopis, 2013). As a leader it is your job to lift your employees up, you have the higher position but you also want your employees to work their way up in the company as well. By putting an employee up for promotion when the opportunity is presented, you are showing them that you value their hard work and believe they are capable of succeeding in the company (Llopis, 2013). When your employees succeed you praise them rather than patting yourself on the back as a good leader (Llopis, 2013). By doing all these things you prove to your employees that you are dedicated to earning their respect and fostering an environment where the respect is mutual.
Example of when respect was shown and its impact on the organization
When it comes to respect in the workplace, in relation to the cultures of those that work in the organisation, an aspect of cross cultural management that should be looked at is collectivist as against individualist cultures. Depending on where people come from in your team you have different types of mentalities working together and trying to find a balance between these two cultural aspects is important to the dynamics of your team and can impact on how the work is done. An individualist society has an I mentality, while a collectivist has a we mentality. In a collectivist society one’s identity is based on their social group, the focus is on belonging to an organization rather than focusing on individuals own work and success (Hofstede, 1993). When employees work in an environment filled with respect for them as individuals, the work they do and the role they play in the team, there is no limit to what they can give to an organisation (Rogers, 2018). Televerde is an American technology business to business marketing firm and, uniquely, it is staffed largely by inmates, female inmates to be specific (Rogers, 2018). Jim Hooker bought the business when it was located in a trailer on the grounds of an Arizona women’s prisons and was run by seven women. The business has now grown into a multi-location business, employing 650 people – 425 of them are inmates (Rogers, 2018). One way Hooker showed that he valued and respected the work done by his inmate workers was to offer them full time positions in the company once they left prison (Rogers, 2018). As a result, those that worked for Televerde were 80% below the national rate for recidivism (Rogers, 2018). The reasons behind all the success; respect. One inmate was quoted as saying “As soon as you walk through that door, you are a co-worker, not an inmate”. This basic level of respect from the offset allowed the inmates to feel a part of the team, they weren’t seen as dangerous or a burden on society but as valued members of staff who had a job to do and were allowed to get on and do it (Rogers, 2018). Another successful thing the managers at Televerde did was relay positive feedback from clients to the inmates (Rogers, 2018). The feedback they received made them feel respected in their jobs, that they were working hard and their managers knew that (Rogers, 2018). While this example is unique in its participants, the idea is universal; if you as a manager show respect to your employees there is no limit to the success you and your employees as a team can achieve (Rogers, 2018). Here we see a micro example of a collectivist society, a group of people all defined by one thing, their time in prison, working together as one group to get the job done.
Example of when respect wasn’t shown and its impact on the company?
Respect is essential for a productive, healthy and motivating working environment, by respecting your employees you make them feel a part of a team and that their job is integral to the success of the organisation (Heathfield, 2019). There are plenty of examples of businesses failing when there is a lack of respect shown to employees by management. An example of this is the experience one physicist had in her workplace. Speaking anonymously for the purpose of this report she spoke about the lack of respect and workplace bullying she experienced working in a specialised hospital department. Her boss was a controlling and pedantic type of person and she spoke of the many times he would send back reports telling her to redo them because one word had been misspelled or a comma forgotten. She spoke of how he constantly took credit for the work she had done and often didn’t include her in important meetings with higher-ups in the company. She also noted that he isolated her on a number of occasions, one example was when he moved her office to a part of the building where few people went. As a manager, it was his job to organise training for her every year, yet he never did, often resulting in her having to attend conferences that she had to use holiday time for and pay for herself. She said he created a hostile working environment not only for her but for many others in her department. The constant stress he put her under, which she endured for years, finally caught up with her and she became extremely ill and was instructed by her doctor to take a 6 month sick leave. After those 6 months she decided not to return to work. She said she believed she was a fantastic employee, well respected by her fellow colleagues and those in higher management, but the treatment she endured from her boss finally lead her to leave the company. It could be argued that her leaving was a loss to the company. She was a well-trained, experienced and hardworking employee, who took all her skills and knowledge to a different company who treated her a lot better and viewed her a valued member of the team. Although the company is still in operation, she has spoken to staff that remained in her department and they say her old boss still continues to act like he did when she worked there. While her boss could have taken this experience and used it as a way to learn how to be a better boss, it’s clear to see he hasn’t changed, preferring to lose good employees than change his managerial style.
The purpose of this anecdote is to demonstrate how, as managers, you have a duty of care to your employees. One report found that stress, anxiety and depression account for 13% of all work related illnesses in Ireland (Russel et al., 2016). Another report found that labour turnover, increased absence in work and a lack of employees being fully present in the office are all caused by high levels of work related stress (Leka & Jain, 2010).
Ways to foster an atmosphere of Respect in the workplace
One important way to foster an atmosphere of respect is through the values your company has. Are they values that all employees have, have they been created in a way that holds all employees and managers accountable for their actions and do they set your company out from the competitor (Lencioni, 2002). As a manager it is imperative that you, your fellow managers and the CEO work together to create company values. These can not be created solely by feedback from employees in the company but should also be fostered by the CEO and the founders of the company who naturally have a greater say in the way the company is run and thus what the core values should be (Lencioni, 2002). Creating these values should take time and should be re visited time and time again to allow consideration of how they will affect the company in the future (Lencioni, 2002). Values are put in place to allow employees to have ideals to strive to and as a result they should be part of all parts of the company, from the hiring process to how employees are chosen for rewards and promotions, this ensures the values become a core part of the corporate culture of the company (Lencioni, 2002). Values are not easy things to create, they take time and require tough deliberation to pick the correct ones, but when the right values are created they can be the cornerstone for your company and set up your employees for great success (Lencioni, 2002).
How the insights presented in this report should influence your actions as an executive or HR manager?
The professional services are an area where respect is of the utmost importance. From banks, to insurance firms to accounting firms, respect is weaved into every aspect of the business. In these highly pressurised working environments it is key that respect is shown at all times, to fellow employees, higher management and most importantly – clients. As a manager, the most important thing you can do is foster an atmosphere of respect. If your employees don’t respect you they in turn have no respect for the quality of work they are doing and no respect for the clients they are working for. The saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ is truly applicable in this situation. You can scream from the top of your lungs about how the company and the managers that work in the company are respectful of different people, races and religions but if your actions, as a leader, don’t mirror that you lose the respect of your employees (Llopis, 2013). Every action taken should be for the benefit of the team and should have positive consequences on each employee in the team.
As the workplace becomes more and more culturally diverse it is imperative that you, as a manager, look at your workplace policies and see how they could be continuously updated to be more culturally inclusive. An important thing to look at it how to make sure your culturally diverse teams works well together and respects one another as individuals and as members of the team (Polzer, 2008). One way to do this is through a process called ‘360-degree feedback’, where employees and managers give honest self-accessed feedback on themselves, members of their team and their managers (Polzer, 2008). This allows open and honest communication and can help team members identify areas where they can improve and where they are performing well (Polzer, 2008). As a leader it is your job to always be in communication with your employees, if they come to you with reports of inappropriate behaviour by other employees, it is crucial that you promptly deal with the report of unacceptable behaviour (Maeso, 2017). You need to hold yourself and those involved accountable and make sure proper disciplinary action is taken, this will prove to your employees that you respect them and do not stand for disrespectful behaviour (Maeso, 2017). As long as you have the procedures in place to deal with these kind of problems you will be able to deal with them in a way that respects all those involved. Creating a safe and respectful working environment for all members of your organisation should be done by employees and managers alike. By doing this everyone is contributing to building and maintaining a culture of respect in the workplace (Maeso, 2017).
One final lesson that should be taken from this report is the importance of showing respect to employees. Whether that be in your day to day conversations, in emails or in meetings with clients, showing respect to all parties is extremely important. As this report has shown it can have serious negative consequences if not shown but it can also lift your employees and motivate them to work to their best when shown in a sincere way. By showing respect, you show that you value your employees, the work they do and their contribution to the company and its success.