Communication with Foreign Co-Workers on Overseas Assignments

There is no doubt that we are globalizing ourselves and that we are more diverse than before. The United States has become a land of many cultures. Communication has become better through technology and the socialization of the human species. Yet, how can we prepare employees for an overseas assignment? This is something that can be seen in two ways, a structured plan for the assignment itself and the in-depth cultural communication factor.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Andy Molinsky and Melissa Hahn write that there are five ways one can succeed on an overseas assignment in a structured way.

  • Have a purpose and a person who can promote that purpose. Having the right person to make this assignment work is quite important, especially in cultural understanding and understanding of the project.
  • Having a close connection to home works well, that way the person overseas doesn’t lose touch with what he or she is doing for the company. A good mentor would work.
  • Communication between the worker and employer needs to be constant for best results.
  • Before leaving, it is ideal to start on talks of how the assignment was beneficial and what was learned.
  • The company can distribute what it learned from that experience.

We often forget that to have a successful assignment overseas, the communication between the employee and the foreign team is crucial. We need to consider cultural, social, and language barriers amongst diversity and work. There is no denying that “…English is now the global language of business.” as mentioned by Tsedel Neeley in her article Global Business Speaks English. But this doesn’t really help many. My interview with Dr. Joann Jones, Executive Director – Leadership Development for Cummins, led to these tips.

  • Prepare the assignment ahead of time so that everyone working on the assignment can understand the assignment.
  • Know that there will be a need for clarification as language and cultural barriers are present.
  • If possible, know the language and culture of where one may stay can improve results.
  • An ending follow-up on the assignment will be helpful, especially a written documentation of the progress and results. This may help clarify any miscommunications.

Making sure an overseas assignment is completely worked out is the main goal, but knowing the cultural factor and having a structured plan can lead to a successful assignment.

 

By Alvaro Garcia, Business Major – IUPUC

Can Social Media Get You Fired?

Most people have posted to some sort of social media, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or some other site.  Thanks to technology, people can upload pictures right after they are taken, update their Facebook status, tweet and add comments to other people’s posts all with the click of a few buttons.  Technology has also made it easier for employers to see what their employees are posting.  This has led to some people losing their jobs due to what they posted on social media.

Here are some examples:

  • In Georgia, Johnny Cook, a bus driver, was fired for sharing a story on his Facebook page about a child who was not allowed to get a school lunch because his lunch account had a 40 cent deficit.  The school requested that Cook take down the post and say that he is sorry or else be fired.  He chose the latter.
  • In Australia, a video was posted of some miners doing “The Harlem Shake.”  After their employer found out, the miners were fired.
  • A woman lost her job after insulting her boss on Facebook.  Her boss was one of her Facebook friends.
  • In 2013, a picture was posted of a Taco Bell employee licking some hard taco shells.  He was fired, along with the employee who took the picture.  Taco Bell stated that the employees were fired for taking the picture and posting it to the Internet, which is against their policies.
  • A high school math teacher from Denver was fired for tweeting about marijuana and posting some risqué photos.
  • A woman from Switzerland was fired from her job just for checking updates on Facebook on the same day she called in sick to work stating “she could not work in front of a computer as she needed to lie in the dark.”
  • A woman was fired from her waitress job after posting insults about the restaurant’s customers on her Facebook page.
  • Celebrities are not safe either.  Gilbert Gottfried was fired by Aflac “less than an hour” after tweeting jokes about the tsunami in Japan.
  • Ex-MLB player Mike Bacsik was fired from a radio show in Texas after tweeting, “Congrats to all the dirty Mexicans in San Antonio” after the Dallas Mavericks lost a playoff game in 2010.

Social media is a good way to keep in touch with family members and friends.  Before you post anything though, you may want to stop and think about who might see it and could there be any negative consequences.  If you are Facebook friends with your boss, definitely do not post derogatory comments about him because more than likely he will see it, and you may be called into his office to discuss it the next day.

Another thing to ask yourself before posting anything is “will this reflect badly on me or my employer?”  If your employer is doing something unethical or illegal, that is one thing, just be prepared for the consequences if you write about it on social media.  But if you are just venting about something that made you angry at work or posting a picture of yourself doing a keg stand, you may want to rethink it and just share it with close friends and family members.

 

By Amanda Smith, Business major – IUPUC

 

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/06/living/buzzfeed-social-media-fired/index.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/26/fired-over-facebook-posts_n_659170.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/employee-fired-from-taco-bell-for-licking-shells/

 

 

 

What Do Your Walls Say About You?

Stop what you’re doing right now and look.  Look at the walls in your office if you have one.  Scan the top of your desk, your file cabinets, side tables, computer stations, ect.

If this person were an attorney, would you trust him with your case?

Look with fresh eyes as if it were someone else’s office.

What do you see?  Controlled chaos?

What does it say about you?  Neat? Disorganized?  Unproductive?  A potential fire hazard in the making?

Business professionals should be use to thinking about their appearance by now.  Every wise manager knows that, on the job, you dress for the position you want, not the one you have.  But how often do those same people think about what message their surroundings are saying to others?

Your work environment maybe be your happy place on the job, but the message it sends to others should be consistent with the one you’re trying to send through your appearance, your skills, your conversations, etc.

Impressive!

Do they clash?  Or do they support each other?

In today’s competitive market, don’t overlook this crucial piece of the puzzle. When it comes to your workspace, consider these items:

–         Does your workspace convey efficiency and organization?  Or are your walls lost opportunities to sell yourself instead?

–         Is your college degree (should you have one or more) prominently displayed on the walls?  If not, get it up there.  If you don’t have walls or can’t hang personal items, invest in a small table-top easel and place it on a filing cabinet or side table.

–         Do you have any awards, merits or other honors that are frame worthy and display friendly?  If so, put them out there too, but avoid clutter.  The idea is, if you have professional designations to brag about, do so in a tasteful manner.

Now that’s more like it!

–         Is your desktop some place where pieces of paper go to die?  If so, now is the time to get organized.  Raid the supply cabinet for hanging file folders, develop a system, then use it.

–         But don’t wipe the slate completely clean!  A wide open expanse of clean desk top may be nirvana to neat freaks but to others it may say this person doesn’t have enough to do. 

The point is, bring order to the chaos, promote your accomplishments and send a message that you’re organized and dependable.  If it looks and sounds like you know what you’re doing, people usually will believe you.

– Robin Fritz, Adjunct Lecturer, Division of Business, Indiana University – Columbus