I cannot believe that another year has come to a close. 2012 was a year of stretching boundaries and embracing change for me and for Highroad Global Services. I spent the summer in Bangalore, India; launched our new website; finished my book on offshoring; put on two concerts with my guitar; and connected with people from around the world.
Make no mistake – those adventures came with their challenges. Along the way I got two stomach viruses in India, a tendon injury playing guitar, and experienced many bouts of frustration writing my book.
Out of the year 2012, however, came three messages that I would like to share with you:
Messages of the Year
- Take chances.
- Be present.
- Let go of control.
On the surface, working across cultures presents so many barriers. There are the obvious ones like language and time zones. Then there are the not-so-obvious ones like fundamental value differences and dealing with our own biases.
I invite you to consider how these three messages might help.
1. Take chances:
- Be brave and go sit next to that new Indian colleague who always eats alone in the office cafeteria
- Ask your German colleague about a cultural behavior that puzzles you
- Take a Chinese colleague up on their invitation to their home, even if you might offend them
- Ask your American colleague to slow down when they speak; let them know you have difficulty understanding them
- Want to learn more about your global colleagues? Check out this amazing resource: www.culturaldetective.com/cdonline
2. Be present
- When you attend a global conference call, shut down your e-mail and actively listen
- Give non-native speakers of your language your full attention even when you are short on time and wish they would speak more quickly
- Make intentional choices to connect with customers and teammates across cultures; call them when you don’t need to, or find out two new things about them on a personal level
3. Let go of control
- When you encounter a frustrating cross-cultural challenge, be willing to engage the ambiguity and say “I don’t know right now”
- Expect a certain level of discomfort as part of global teamwork and practice being with that discomfort rather than trying to fix it
- Make a mental boundary between what you can control and what you cannot, then practice responding to situations and opportunities as they arise
On the Highroad, I remain utterly grateful for the people reach out to us, value our work, and engage in connection. Writing this blog for you has been an absolute joy, and I appreciate the chance to be enriched by every one of my readers.
Along with the entire Highroad team, I wish you a happy holiday season and an inspired 2013.
Enjoy the journey!