Management

Don’t Forget About Your Company’s Best Ally: Culture

Do you work for a startup company that is forming its business foundation? A mid-size company experiencing growing pains as they scale-up? Or a large company hoping to make a major organizational shift?  At all levels, you may be focusing on the numbers, the what and the how; but are you remembering to think about the why? At the core of your business lies the company’s mission, values, and culture. Every leader in the company surely knows the why — why did we open, why is what we do important, and the why behind each and every thing that we do.  Too frequently though, this simple why is not a part of a company’s process. This blog will break this down into three simple steps crucial to leading your company through challenges that you may be facing, with culture as your key ally in the process.

Step 1) Align: You – the leader – are facing a dilemma. Before you act, first look at the why. As a leader, you eat, sleep and breathe the mission, values, and strategy of your company, but have you thought about this dilemma in the context of the bigger issues? Too often we approach a micro-problem with a micro-solution, when really, this small problem is an indicator of an opportunity for a macro-solution. Take for example, in the context of a growing startup, an employee who is complaining about not knowing the guy who works across the desk from him. Your knee-jerk solution might involve introducing the two. Consider, however, that this may be an indicator of something more going on;  could it be a micro-example of the growing pains that your small business is experiencing as the culture of the company is changing?  Is this evolving work culture in alignment with your company’s strategy?  Before reacting to this scenario, you have the opportunity to reflect on the challenges of growth that your startup is facing and what cultural implications these may have.

Step 2) Ask: Our earlier example feeds nicely into step two. You need to take inventory of the rest of your employees. How is the growth feeling from their perspectives? What is their perception of the company’s culture?  In fact, from a social constructivist point-of-view, the company’s culture is defined – even created – by the mutual understanding of your company’s social values across employees. You really need to know the culture, inside and out, and employee engagement is fundamental to this understanding.  Don’t forget to find out the good along with the bad; it is all a part of the organizational culture and will be important in our last step.

Step 3) Adapt: The last step is to evaluate and decide how to evolve as a company. If your business is changing, maybe it’s necessary to accept the hard realization that the culture you started with might just need to change too. Or, on the contrary, if your original culture is still key to your company’s mission and values, then maybe you don’t need to change the culture but instead must figure out how to sustain it within your growing company. Whichever direction you go, realize that a company is never static, and neither is its culture. Cultural adaptability could be the missing puzzle piece for how your startup can grow, but to find that piece, you must start from step one.

Now that you understand these three steps, bring them to whatever dilemma your company is facing and view it with a fresh perspective. You have the opportunity to influence your company’s culture in a way that will reinforce your company’s mission, values and strategy. The result? A long-lasting company with a differentiated and ever-evolving organizational culture.

This blog was inspired by a class assignment developed for the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course lead by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach.

Written by Leah Wheeler

Leah is a 2018 MBA from the Lundquist School of Business at the University of Oregon. Her interest in integrating sustainability into common business practices led her to choose the Center for Sustainable Business Practices, ranked #1 Green MBA. Originally from Washington, she graduated from Whitman College with a degree in Economics then worked in healthcare management for the majority of her career. After her MBA, she plans on combining her work experience in management with her passion for socially and environmentally responsible business practices by working for a company that shares her values.

Making a Case for Change

I’m sure a lot of you can relate to the failed attempts at implementing an initiative you feel passionate about. You are certain it’s going to bring positive change in a variety of ways, but can’t seem to get others on board. You’ve all but given up on your noble crusade. Fear not brave change-agents. Below are tactics that can help you get buy in with upper management and move you toward responsibilities that don’t make you want to run for the door at 5 pm on the dot.

Do your research.

The biggest mistake you can make is stating a claim without backing it up.  According to Sean Ryan in Harvard Business Review, people have something called a “negativity bias,” which means we’re more risk averse than risk taking. “The average person requires a gain twice the value of the potential loss,” so hedge your bets by being over-prepared. Show, don’t tell, why you think your initiative is important to the future of the company.

Know Who You’re Talking To

Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People famously wrote “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Rather than thinking about it from your perspective, put yourself in their shoes and frame the issue to address their motivations and concerns.  Is this person only trying to hit the bottom line? If so, is there a way to frame this as a revenue generating opportunity? Are they worried about competitive forces? If so, can you use your initiative as a way to differentiate and get ahead of those competitors?

You’ll Need Back Up

Teamwork makes the dream work, people. As cliché as it sounds, this holds true when you’re trying to sell something to upper management. On top of showing your boss you have support, gathering expertise from multiple areas strengthens your ideas. Don’t just ask your work husband for help, recruit those with influence that are most likely to get on board with your idea. Map out your network and organize it into four categories as shown below and determine your game plan to get the key potential supporters on board.

Two birds meet one stone

The other night, I decided to go out rather than go to the gym. We ended up dancing for a few hours and I woke up sore – no workout necessary! You know how good it feels to accomplish more than one goal with one action. So does your boss. Chances are, if you think your idea is worthy of your boss’s attention, it satisfies a greater need that they are already trying to address. This is called “bundling”. According to Ashford and Dutton, by bundling, “a seller taps into resources and communication currency the other issue may have.” In other words, your company wouldn’t have to start from square one. If there are already efforts in place that you can apply to your initiative, use those to your advantage.

Have a great idea? Believe you could inspire change in your organization? Stop. Take a deep breath. You can do it, but you need a plan. Sit down and evaluate who you need to convince and how you can back yourself up both with facts and with people. Think about your organization’s existing initiatives and how you can pair yours with your boss’s priorities. The more prepared you are and the more passion you bring to this endeavor, the more successful you’ll be. You got this.

This blog was inspired by a class assignment developed for the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course lead by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach.

Written by Alison O'Shaughnessy

Ali is a 2018 MBA from the Center of Sustainable Business Practices. She spent most of her career working in digital marketing for non-profit clients in New York City. After graduating, she plans on combining her expertise in marketing with her passion for socially and environmentally responsible business practices by working for a company that shares her altruistic values.

Your Next Promotion Could Depend on Emotional Intelligence

The latest round of promotions has come and gone, and surprisingly you’ve been passed up for an advancement opportunity. You’ve been staying late, producing high-quality work, and you even brought donuts for the office that one Tuesday. Surely, you deserved the promotion, yet you are still in the same role. This is a situation many young professionals find themselves in and the solution could be as simple as being in-tune with your emotions, or rather emotional intelligence (EQ).

Daniel Goleman popularized EQ in the mid-90’s and since then it has been a big discussion topic in business culture, especially when it comes to leadership. A key leadership trait is resolving conflict and businesses depend on EQ because often emotions are the source of conflict. EQ is the perceiving of your own emotions and the emotions of others and managing them in a productive and healthy way. So as a future leader, knowing how to identify and manage your emotions and the emotions of others can be the difference between business success and business failure.

So how can you improve your own EQ so that you can better qualify for that next promotion opportunity? Here are five steps to help:

  • Reduce Negative Emotions: It’s ok to feel sad, afraid, or angry. These are normal, healthy emotions. However, letting these emotions get out-of-control is not healthy. Being able to reduce these negative emotions can help improve your EQ.
  • Stay Cool in Stressful Situations: Fact #1, work is stressful. Fact #2, losing your cool at work is not cool. Learning how to manage stress is a great way to boost your EQ. There are plenty of ways to reduce stress at work: get up and go for a quick walk, listen to some of your favorite tunes, etc. Find something that you can do to help reduce your own stress.
  • Be Assertive and Express Negative Emotions when Necessary: There are times when it is ok to express negative emotions such as anger or sadness. Learn how to recognize these opportunities and practice how to express these emotions in a helpful way.
  • Stay Proactive, not Reactive: It’s inevitable that you are going to work with someone you don’t like. Instead of feeling “stuck” in that relationship, take a proactive approach to addressing the issues of the relationship. Practice being empathetic toward that person to see things from their perspective.
  • Bounce Back from Adversity: A common saying in modern business culture is to “Fail Fast”. This means that you are sure to make a mistake at some point and it’s how you recover from these mistakes that really tells people who you are. If something doesn’t go right, quickly identify a solution or the lesson learned and then move on to the next thing.

Emotional intelligence isn’t something that you can change overnight. If you feel like you are lacking in this area, start practicing now. If you have a high EQ, keep practicing because it may make the difference in your next promotion.

This blog was inspired by a class assignment developed for the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course lead by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach.

Written by Jesse Walker

Walker is a 2018 MBA and a natural leader with five years of marketing campaign development and project management experience. Most recently he served as a marketing manager for SolarWinds, an IT software provider, where he led cross-functional teams to grow the configuration and security product lines. Post-graduation, Walker plans to work for an outdoor product company, driving marketing efforts to create lifelong, loyal customers.

How my Global Team Helped Me Redefine Efficiency

Efficiency lives at the core of business. It drives our day-to-day work, our company goals, and it is how we measure improvement. Not only do we strive to be more efficient in our work lives, many of us strive to be more efficient in our personal lives – how we shop, how we exercise, how we use our smartphones –  just to name a few. It is no surprise that I entered the workforce with the assumption that efficiency is everything.  This assumption, however, was about to be tempered by reality.

During our first term in the MBA program, our class participated in a month-long cross cultural project. This project challenged me on many levels, but the greatest lesson was realizing that I had greatly underestimated the human costs of efficiency.  In other words, in my drive to be efficient, I had steam-rolled past the critical step of building a relationship with my team. To help explain, let’s step back and look at a few concrete examples.

My group for this project consisted of four members: one each from Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, India and the United States (me).  During our first online chat, I recapped the assignment for that day and decided we should dive right in. Some team members seemed to be off-topic, chatting about politics, classes, and some silly topics too. I kindly reminded everyone of our meeting goals, and pushed the agenda on our team. In the moment this seemed prudent and efficient, but in retrospect, we missed a crucial opportunity to get to know each other before the deliverables were due.

Fast-forward three weeks to crunch time: our major project is due next week. Our group meeting has gone overtime, instead of 30 minutes we are almost to two hours of online chatting!  Ever concerned with our efficiency, I try to wrap-up and end the meeting within five minutes. I realize later that this was by no-means efficient, instead, it was hasty. So, I decided to write a thorough follow-up email to the group, making sure everyone was on-board with their personal deliverables and asking if they had any questions.  As a matter of fact, many of them did have questions and were unclear about what had been decided!

In both of these cases, my drive for efficiency had led me to skip steps and take shortcuts, which ultimately did not pay off. Taking the extra time to get to know my team and create a trusting environment might have improved communication throughout the project. Furthermore, spending the extra few minutes to wrap-up our meeting fully might have prevented the long string of clarifying emails.  I learned first-hand that efficiency in the short-run did not equate with efficiency in the long-run.

Throughout our coursework in Managing Individuals and Organizations, professor Reut Livne-Tarandach encouraged us to take as much time as needed to form strong emotional relationships fundamental to establishing a strong team. In fact, our very first assignment was to create a thorough team agreement to ensure our groups were well acquainted and had established group norms, processes, and expectations. During the term, we read articles about emotional-intelligence citing it as one of the most important factors in predicting team success. The takeaway was clear: creating a team environment where all members felt respected and understood can have real benefits. Efficiency-driven leaders may want to rush past these crucial steps, but research shows how important it is to redefine efficiency to focus on the long-term goals, even if it takes a few extra minutes.

Nonetheless, people’s time should be respected in business meetings and tangible outcomes should occur.  The key then, is to strike a balance between human/social needs and the need to accomplish results.  Providing a structured time during meetings for human exchanges is not a frill, it can be as fun as it is vital.  Then you can get down to business.

In this MBA program, each project is an opportunity for growth.  I am grateful for the new perspective I’ve gleaned from working with my global team. In the future, as either a leader or member of a team, I will slow down and acknowledge the opportunity to establish a solid team foundation, even if it takes a little extra time!

 

This blog captures the insights students gained following their participation in the Technion Multi-Cultural Team Project. The project represents an experiential learning platform, designed to improve students’ global management skills through work on real global environment. The TMCTP 2016 project brought together 300 students from 20 countries across the world. Each one of our MBA students was placed in one of the 79 cross cultural teams, and worked to identify business opportunities that can fit the cultural and economic context of the country of their choice. This project was first introduced to the UO MBA program by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach, as an integral part of the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course she leads at the UO.

Written by Leah Wheeler

Leah is a 2018 MBA from the Lundquist School of Business at the University of Oregon. Her interest in integrating sustainability into common business practices led her to choose the Center for Sustainable Business Practices, ranked #1 Green MBA. Originally from Washington, she graduated from Whitman College with a degree in Economics then worked in healthcare management for the majority of her career. After her MBA, she plans on combining her work experience in management with her passion for socially and environmentally responsible business practices by working for a company that shares her values.

5 Easy Steps To Making Your Cross-Cultural Team Function Effortlessly

5 Easy Steps to Making Your Cross-Cultural Team Function Effortlessly

Have you ever been part of a team where cultural norms and biases seemed to dominate the work environment? After working with a Portland based nonprofit that serves the local Hispanic community I have become much more aware of the importance of cross cultural management. This organization is currently in the process of finding a new Executive Director and based on feedback from the community, board members and staff I knew that global intelligence was a attribute that we needed to hire for.

My research on the subject lead me to create the following short list from the experts on how leaders can effectively leverage global intelligence to get the most out of cross-cultural teams! Feel free to dive into these resources to help your cross-cultural team thrive!  I will be using this framework when evaluating potential candidates for our vacant Executive Director position.

Step 1: Take a Step Back to Understand Your Team’s Culture
If you are having difficulty with a global team or with a coworker from a different culture check out Geert Hofstede’s website for some quick and easy insights into cultural dimensions. This tool can give you a basic understanding on the lens in which your team members are perceiving your behaviors and may allow you to better understand theirs.

Step 2: Look for Commonalities and Cultural Cues

Once you have built up your basic knowledge about a Culture you should put that knowledge into action. When faced with a culturally challenging situation remember to keeping an open-mind, looking for similarities or commonalities, and paying attention to subtle cultural cues. Sometimes the most important part of an interaction is what is not said especially for individuals from cultures that value saving face such as Asia and Latin America.

Step 3: Develop Your Group Trust and Efficacy

The easiest way to build group trust in a cross cultural team is to immediately define the norms or the group and stick to them. Once the norms have been established make a concerted effort to build interpersonal relationships with everyone on the team. This will ensure that the whole team is invested both on a professional and personal level. Last but not least when conflict arises address it immediately in a way that is culturally acceptable to those within the group, where that be via group discussion, via a mediator or in a one-on-one session. This can be doubly important if you are working on a team charged with creating innovative products and require brainstorming remember to understand how more collectivist societies might view these sorts of activities.

Step 4: Continually Develop Your Global Intelligence (Preferably by Immersing Yourself in Other Cultures)

According to William George in his book Discovering Your True North, Leaders with High Global Intelligence scores consistently have the following qualities: adaptability, awareness, curiosity, empathy, alignment, collaboration, and integration. William goes on to mention that while these skills can be developed the best way to achieve this is though immersing yourself in other cultures, preferably early in life, as those experiences will help shape your own perceptions and ability to adapt to uncomfortable situations throughout life.

Step 5: Using Global Dexterity as a Choice

Last but not least understand that just because you can adapt your behavior to fit the cultural norms of the rest of your team there may be situations in which you deliberately stay true to your own cultural norms. This could be due to ethical or moral dilemmas, organizational or professional standards, or because by sticking to your cultural norms you are creating a safe environment when your team can effectively increase their Global Intelligence.

Wrapping Things Up with Some Great Resources

The next time a challenging cultural situation comes up or you are faced with a cultural dilemma please step back and survey the situation and apply the above framework. You might just be surprised at how well you and your cross-cultural team will perform given the right lens and the direction from leadership.

Geert Hofstede. (n.d.). Retrieved December 03, 2016, from https://geert-hofstede.com/countries.html

George, B., & Gergen, D. (2015). Chapter 12: Global Leadership. In Discover Your True North. Erscheinungsort nicht ermittelbar: Wiley.

Livermore, D. E. (2016, May 27). Leading a Brainstorming Session with a Cross-Cultural Team. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved December 2, 2016.

Livne-Tarandach, R (2016) Session 12: Cultural Intelligence and Global Mindset (PowerPoint Slide)

Molinsky, A., & Gundling, E. (2016, June 28). How to Build Trust on Your Cross-Cultural Team. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved December 2, 2016.

Molinsky, A. (2013). Chapter 10: Choosing Weather or Not to Adapt Your Behavior. In Global Dexterity: How to Adapt Your Behavior Across Cultures without Losing Yourself in the Process. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

Thomas, D. C., & Inkson, K. (2009). Chapter Three: Mindfulness and Cross-Cultural Skills. In Cultural Intelligence: Living and Working Globally (Second ed., pp. 43-62). Berrett-Koehler.

 

 

This blog captures the insights students gained following their participation in the Technion Multi-Cultural Team Project. The project represents an experiential learning platform, designed to improve students’ global management skills through work on real global environment. The TMCTP 2016 project brought together 300 students from 20 countries across the world. Each one of our MBA students was placed in one of the 79 cross cultural teams, and worked to identify business opportunities that can fit the cultural and economic context of the country of their choice. This project was first introduced to the UO MBA program by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach, as an integral part of the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course she leads at the UO.

 

 

Written by Jedidiah Womack

Jedidiah Womack is a 2018 MBA candidate from the Cameron Center for Finance and Securities Analysis. Womack is a business banking professional with a passion for commercial real estate and affordable housing. Upon graduation, he plans to pursue a career in commercial banking while continuing to be an advocate for affordable housing in the Pacific Northwest.

TMCTP: A Lesson in Leadership

“A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a Molder of Consensus” -Martin Luther King Jr.

48 hours before your deliverable is due, one of the four team members you are entrusted to lead decides to disappear. The project requires input from your entire team. Your success, as well as that of your peers who trusted you to lead them, depends entirely on your ability to motivate this individual who was apparently not motivated by their own success. How do you proceed…?

The Technion Multi Cultural Team Project (TMCTP) was absolutely the most uniquely challenging assignment I have ever encountered as a student.

Each of us were placed on a team of four made up of Business Students from across the world, tasked with a project that took well over a month, and required constant communication and coordination. The assignment was to write a full business proposal, a process which also included team exercises and additional supplemental work. The real challenge, however, was establishing a team dynamic that would allow us to successfully work together. We were four students from vastly different cultures tasked with creating a detailed business proposal based in a fifth country none of us had ever been to. None of us spoke the same language and we were working across different time zones.

I was elected the leader of the group, which was a great learning experience for me. Quality leadership is absolutely imperative to any team that aims to be successful. However, as I learned from participating in this project, being an effective leader is an incredibly difficult task; one that requires deep consideration, compassion, and strategy.

When working with any team, the goal is to become greater than the sum of your parts. The idea behind an effective team is not merely that “two heads are better than one.” Rather, the hope is that each individual is better as a result of their belonging to the team; that their peers are challenging them, suggesting alternative approaches to a task, and ideally creating an environment in which members can build of one another’s others ideas and ultimately thrive. I hope I achieved this for the members who relied on my leadership.

I know now that this project will be a relevant experience to any leadership experience I have in the future, which is how this experience proved to be so meaningful for me. Leadership is a topic that you can read articles about in class, but without any tangible leadership experience to apply those learnings to, leadership education is not as effective as it could be. Through the TMCTP process, however, I had the opportunity to step up and experience taking on a leadership role. I was pushed off balance, made to feel uncomfortable, and as a result – when I become a leader in my future career, I know I will have relevant and global experience to draw from.

 

This blog captures the insights students gained following their participation in the Technion Multi-Cultural Team Project. The project represents an experiential learning platform, designed to improve students’ global management skills through work on real global environment. The TMCTP 2016 project brought together 300 students from 20 countries across the world. Each one of our MBA students was placed in one of the 79 cross cultural teams, and worked to identify business opportunities that can fit the cultural and economic context of the country of their choice. This project was first introduced to the UO MBA program by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach, as an integral part of the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course she leads at the UO.

Written by akantor