Globalization, people integration, and rapidly changing geopolitical climates around the world demand agility, nimbleness, and a defined sense of urgency to deliver organizational results.
Can you apply traditional change management and organization development strategies using a Western orientation in Asia successfully given the thousands of years of history, cultural norms, and values?
As a HR professional who focused on change management and organization development strategies in Asia, implementing those practices is no easy task using Western models of change management and organization development.
Western models of change management and organization development don’t always translate as clean as they would in Western countries. Countries in Asia are collectivist societies where individualism is not as valued as in Western culture.
Trying to change the thinking of someone who has thousands of years of recorded history, beliefs, cultural norms, and values is very tough. Especially, if you want to change the organization through people and processes. It must align with the countries cultural norms and values. Trying to find that balance was and is a daunting task for any Western HR professional working in Asia, but can provide a lifetime of learning.
Five tips that can help create an environment where you can increase your level of productivity and effectiveness:
1. Language. Unless you are a native speaker, you should have a bilingual speaker who understands what you want to communicate to help close the language gap if you are not a native speaker. No matter how many people are working with you who speak English as a second language, meaning and intent sometimes just doesn’t translate as clearly as you might need.
2. Local talent. An effective way is to secure local talent who has the change management or organization development knowledge base and a native speaker. Or someone in the organization or on the team with the same cultural background, language skills, and the change management or organization development knowledge to help manage the critical parts of the strategy.
3. Assumptions. Making assumptions about the people or culture can be the kiss of disaster. Assumptions not based on facts are the quickest way to fail and cause confusion or hostility.
4. Leverage culture. Culture is the strongest consideration you should embrace, understand, and appreciate. It is the foundation of your colleague’s values and belief system, so you want to try as hard as possible to align with their cultural artifacts.
5. Practice patience. Be sensitive, emphatic, patient, and keep those rules in the forefront of your mind, Your sense of urgency is not the same as the host country, no matter how much we think the world is shrinking due to globalization.
When it comes to driving change management or organization development strategies with your international business colleagues, remember, one size doesn’t fit all. Look at their culture, values, behaviors, and cultural norms because culture will always triumph strategy.
Originally published at medium.com