With the increasing internationalisation of the modern workforce, managers should keep in mind that cultural differences can add an extra layer to the feedback culture you want to create. While there are some common rules to giving feedback (e.g. constructive, timely etc.), there is no set formula.
Here are a few tips to help managers develop the skills they need to strengthen their feedback culture in any environment.
1. Do your research: When managers move to a new office abroad or hire culturally-diverse team members, it’s important that they research the cultural differences in communication that may exist. In some cultures being direct with feedback is highly valued, in others it’s considered polite to approach feedback more indirectly.
2. Don’t get too personal: One of the most important things to remember is not to get too personal at work. In some cultures people have a tendency to feel comfortable sharing personal information, even in a work atmosphere. In that kind of environment it can be normal for a manager to ask after their employees’ health and family. In other cultures asking too many personal questions can seem like your boss is prying into your personal life. Instead, keep a friendly but professional relationship with employees and this will allow you to avoid any taboo subjects.
3. Hierarchy: In every culture you’ll find a different approach to hierarchy and relationships between managers, employees and peers. This can make it more difficult to solicit upward feedback in certain environments. In this situation, managers will need to work especially hard to establish trust and overcome this barrier.
4. Keep an open mind: On the flip side, don’t rely too much on the information you read about a different culture! There are of course always exceptions. Keep an open mind and consider the person you’re addressing. To make sure the style you’ve chosen is effective, simply ask your team. Regularly asking for feedback and getting information about your employees’ level of engagement is a great way to figure out what works best for your team.