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Cross – Border Cross – Cultural Tensions! Can Peer Learning hold the key?

Peer Learning Reducing Cross Cultural Tensions

Can teams across borders reduce their differences through Peer Learning?

Employee Engagement across borders is one the most challenging part for any HR Manager! A big facet of globalised businesses is the rapid movement of talent. International Human Resource Management has become important because of the rapidly changing, highly competitive global environment. Cutthroat competition for new markets, technologies, products, investors are now making organisations send employees on international assignments more frequently. 

According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Workforce Trends, 68% of organisations agree that a mobile workforce is an enabler of business and talent strategies.

These employees are referred to as expatriates. They are sent from a parent organisation to live and work in another country for a long period of time. Their goal there can be to develop new markets abroad, manage foreign subsidiaries, develop international skills, knowledge and transfer technologies.

Thus, their job involves managing the relationship between headquarters and that country. They work with and/or coach local employees, implement global business policies, customise the company offerings to suit local needs. They focus their cross-cultural interaction skills for getting the assignment done. Their interaction is characterized by clearly defined hierarchies of structural and cultural dominance and subordination. 

However, one big challenge for expatriate employees is the need to understand and adapt to the local culture, specifically learning culturally appropriate behaviour. For example, An employee from the parent organisation is used to group brainstorming an idea with their co-workers. However, in the local culture, people prefer to research ideas individually. The expatriate might thus encounter difficulty in adapting to such a culture. Similarly, an expatriate who comes from a culture that encourages employees to ask questions will be in for a sudden shock when they find out that asking questions is frowned upon. Such instances make it difficult for the expatriate to adjust.

Project Globe

According to Project GLOBE scholars, “the dexterity to adjust one’s behaviour is a critical requirement. Not everyone can do this; to many people, it may bring into question one’s own identity”

For expatriate employees to achieve success on the goals set by the company, they must use their skills, apply and adapt to the culture in a broader sense as compared to focusing on getting the assignment done. Transnational Leadership helps in overcoming the global vs local conflict faced by the expatriate leaders.

Transnational employees help the organisation to be highly innovative, globally efficient and locally responsive. They build a heterogeneous team; this team recognizes the significance of diversity and inclusion in a global environment. They don’t focus their skills on getting the assignment done. Instead, they use their cross-cultural interaction skills on a daily basis to deal with differences on multiple business fronts like customers, employees, suppliers and stakeholders. 

Transnational managers learn multiple foreign cultures, trends, tastes, perspectives, technology and approaches to conduct business. Thus, they have a global business perspective. Due to this, they are successful in creating a culturally synergistic organisational environment. They do not follow any well-defined hierarchies while interacting but treat all employees as equals. This largely benefits the employees as well as the organisation.

Can Peer Learning Help?

To foster transnational leadership and organisation can explore “Peer Learning” They can select and assess global talent by making the employee aware of their own personal cultural, emotional, moral nuances. When all the employees meet and collectively reflect on their formative years at the organisation, it creates awareness. They can then be given international assignments and cross-cultural exchange opportunities, to act on this awareness. The earlier that these experiences are offered in one’s career, the longer-lasting and more accelerated the development will be.

In order to provide employees with such an opportunity, organisations can introduce cross-border assignments. Such an assignment will require multi-cultural and diverse teams. When the employees in such a team come together they become aware of the challenges and can use their awareness to find a way out. Team members also cultivate cultural sensitivity. After the employees identify the challenges and break them into manageable tasks, peer learning can enable them at all the levels, to take roles that personally benefit them allowing them to address risks. This risk-taking is backed by support and expertise gained due to networking among peers. 

Developing and communicating regularly on the progress and quality of work done in an assignment also increases the communication at different levels, fostering an affective culture. Transnational employees not only blend well with their peers but also become a critical part of the administration. Thus, these assignments can be a real career enhancer for the employees and having communicated its importance, employees are intrinsically motivated to develop skills. Enhancing the already existing talent in the organisation by using their fellow workers proves to be effective to the employees as well as the organisation.

At BHyve, we make use of technology to blend the boundaries and make the knowledge exchange easily available at your organisation. We transform the workplace into a “Learning Exchange Zone” where employees constantly learn from each other and upgrade themselves. Our sharp recommendation engine is constantly evolving to guide employees through each step of their experience. 

We not only engage the employees within the organisation but also across various cultures. We save you from the hefty costs paid to an external trainer by locating subject matter experts within your organisation.

To know more about what we do connect with us at

Let’s Rise from Local to Global with BHyve.

#EmployeeEngagement #peerlearning

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