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Navigating Multicultural Teams: A Road Map to Feedback Across Cultures

Abstract

A number of business practices have increased the extent to which organizations utilize global work teams including the growing number of multinational corporations putting diverse employees together and the widespread use of technology allowing employees to collaborate and communicate across time zones and borders. Recent work suggests that leaders need to be more culturally competent in order to understand and appropriately react to nuanced cultural differences among diverse team members in these types of global teams. Specifically, there is a growing notion that Western techniques for managing performance feedback might not be entirely effective across different cultures. Performance management and the provision of job performance feedback is one leader competency that has received scant attention in a cross-cultural framework and yet is critical for the effective management of both individuals and teams. Leaders of global teams need to acknowledge that individuals from other cultures may have different styles and preferences for feedback. They should also understand their own cultural preferences for the provision and receipt of feedback and adopt style switching to accommodate the needs and expectations of others.

To that end, we seek to enhance leaders’ understanding of performance feedback in context and contribute to the critical understanding of communication-driven feedback behavior in international work teams. This chapter is grounded in the idea that the management of performance feedback within global teams necessitates determining the practices effective across the board, as well as more culturally specific practices. In other words, although feedback processes may still rely on traditional recommendations (e.g., promoting a favorable feedback environment), we argue that the weight of certain approaches will differ when dealing with a diverse team of individuals. Therefore, this chapter consolidates the existing theory and literature on feedback across cultures into a taxonomy of cultural characteristics most relevant for work-related performance feedback processes. Maintaining relationships (hierarchy of authority, independence/interdependence, and need for harmony), personal strategy (achievement orientation, uncertainty avoidance), relationship to the broad environment, and cultural tightness and looseness all impact communication patterns, and therefore feedback processes within global teams. These cultural norms and their implications were discussed and the existing empirical evidence in each area was presented. In this chapter, we also discuss the evidence-based support for our taxonomy and provide actionable recommendations for leaders to enhance the environment for feedback and develop effective feedback processes for culturally diverse work teams.

Keywords

  • Performance management
  • Feedback
  • Feedback seeking
  • Feedback giving
  • Feedback environment
  • Culture
  • Cross-cultural
  • Global teams

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Examples are real; however names have been changed to protect individual confidentiality.

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Correspondence to Rana Moukarzel Ph.D. .

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Moukarzel, R., Steelman, L.A. (2015). Navigating Multicultural Teams: A Road Map to Feedback Across Cultures. In: Wildman, J., Griffith, R. (eds) Leading Global Teams. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-2050-1_8

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