Cross-cultural communication and the line manager

We were asked to undertake an extensive comms audit of the global offices of a multi-national brand. Apparently the leaders were concerned at the differences in the way their town hall meetings were being received in different parts of the world and with diversity in mind wanted to ensure that the cascade approach they adopted to internal communication was working.

What we uncovered, as the enlightened internal communicators out there may expect, was a fundamental difference in the way local communities responded to what they perceived as central dictat. Much depended on:

  • the quality of local line management facilitation
  • the degree of flexibility spelled out in the core materials
  • the behaviour of the visiting Vip leader
  • the amount of consultation involved and quality of the feedback process

The improvement process that resulted included the transformation of the standard team briefing process to a team listening approach as well as skills development workshops for first line managers who were identified as the pivotal communicators.

There are many reasons why this group is so important to local engagement. One of the most important is illustrated in this light-hearted table:

Why not create your own version for the country in which you operate?

Here’s a satirical take on the subject as part of London-based designer Yanko Tsvetkov‘s Mapping Stereotypes project.

Be great to build up an international set, don’t you think?


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