In this case, there is an issue that needed to be solved urgently: cross-cultural gaps. Because of the cultural difference between Chalon and his team, it created many miscommunications and misunderstandings between them, which resulted in low-efficient work performance and complaints from his staff. Let’s take a deeper look. Chalon has been too confident and underestimated the challenges of cross-cultural gaps.
To be specific, before Chalon accepted his mission in Michelin, he thought he knows US well and with his last 2 decades’ experience and fluent English, the new position should be easy and smooth. However, the real situation turned out to be tough and proved him has been too naive. The way Chalon conveyed his ideas and goals is too blunt and straight-forward. According to Erin Meyer (2014), there are 8 aspects where cultural gaps are most common. Firstly, the cultural gap in communicating is based on high or low context (developed by Edward Hall).
Chalon is a low context person who prefers explicit and direct communicating while most of his staff are from high context culture and prefer to talk implicitly. Second, Chalon has cultural gaps with his colleagues in aspects of evaluating and disagreeing. For evaluating, Chalon gave his staff frank negative feedbacks when his employees didn’t match his requirements. However, his staff were unsatisfied with it and thought Chalon has been too strict and cold. For disagreeing, Chalon prefers confrontational disagreements and he thought so do his colleagues.
Hence, even though he conveyed tough task in a blunt way in the meeting, he thought his staff are satisfied with the mission since he didn’t get any direct disagreements and that is the reason why he was unaware of the dissatisfaction and felt surprised when receiving the complaints. The last cultural gap is in trusting. Chalon is task-based and result-driven, he separated his personal life entirely from his work and establish trust between his colleagues by task accomplishment and working competence.
To the contrast, his colleagues are relationship-based who establish trust by concerning about others’ personal life. Because Chalon didn’t care about the work and life situation of his staff and ignored the problem his colleagues had encountered, he has been thought as cold and distant which resulted in no trust in the team. However, without the trust, Chalon couldn’t get a committed and engaged team which all team are consensus-minded and willing to put efforts on the turnaround.
As Earley, P. C. nd Mosakowski, E (2000) said, communication and interaction among a team is an accelerator of establishing an emergent culture, which is necessary for a turnaround. However, those cultural gaps have led to low-efficient communication and interaction between Chalon and his colleagues. In order to strengthen the cross-cultural communication and interaction, according to Matveev . A. V. and Nelson. P. E. (2004), Chalon should improve his cross-cultural communication competence. The cross-cultural communication model is consisted of four dimensions.
First of all is the interpersonal skills, which refers to realize the different communicating and interacting styles and solving the misunderstandings flexibly. Second is team effectiveness, which indicates that Chalon should put efforts on making the team understand the share goals and norms and displaying respects to colleagues and subordinates. The third dimension is cultural uncertainty which suggests that Chalon should be more tolerant of ambiguity and uncertainty and be more flexible and respectful while working with others. The last dimension is cultural empathy.
This dimension indicates that Chalon should improve his ability to appreciate different working styles and accept different ways of things to be done in different culture. In short, Chalon should look into American culture and have a deeper understanding. Only when Chalon embrace and adapt to US culture and think in US mind can he lead his team to communicate effectively and reach a consensus. Actually, cultural difference is a double-edged sword. It can either create a synergy that increase team performance or produce many conflicts and misunderstandings that decrease team performance.
According to Thomas D. C. and Inkson. K. (2009), cultural gaps are far more than language barriers, they encourage people to learn the codes and conventions of people from different cultures. Besides, people are also encouraged to develop cross-cultural skills which help them to adapt different communication styles and conventions better. As for Chalon, he should negotiate more with his colleagues about his goal and provide more information rather than insisting his personal style and being blunt.
In summary, in my opinion, Chalon can take places the following practices to eliminate the cultural gaps. First of all, Chalon should adjust his ways to communicate with colleagues. To be precise, he should be humble and convey his ideas gentler. Second, he should think about the positive side of US communication style and try to adapt to it, which refers to care more about colleagues’ personal life and talk with them more to shorten the distance. Third, Chalon should keep his valuable quality while adapting to his colleagues.