“One way of improving business performance is by learning that there is a distinct New Zealand business culture. The expert in this area is Tony Smale of Forté Management.”
– Tony Alexander, Chief Economist, Bank of New Zealand
We all know New Zealand is one of the most multi-cultured countries in the world, however national culture is much deeper and more complex than just customs and conventions. We can observe customs and conventions, we can learn them and adopt them, however national culture is hardwired into our brains and influences our every thought and behaviour.
Globalisation and a multi-cultured country increases intercultural interactions, which increases the probability of cultural misunderstandings, tensions and conflicts. The need for managers to include national culture in their strategies for management of their staff and customers has never been greater.
Why is national and company culture important for business?
- Things have different meanings depending on where you come from. Understanding national culture and factoring it into strategy is a neglected opportunity in New Zealand. Despite having an increasingly multi-cultural workforce, and trading extensively with people from other cultures, we have been slow to recognise the benefits of evidence-based national cultural competence.
- By understanding how Kiwis “tick”, we can factor this critical consideration into all aspects of employee management and learning. This includes ways to do business, how to relate to others and build strong working relationships, and how to express our feelings in the workplace.
- While we can see customs and social behaviour, such as the way people greet each other and their body language, we cannot see their ideas, morals and the way their minds process receive, process and respond to information. These all affect marketing engagements, sales, staff performance, productivity and management.
- People moving to New Zealand, even our closest cousins from Australia and the UK, often find Kiwi culture, customs and conventions puzzling and sometimes disconcerting. They often struggle to fit in, whether they are being managed by Kiwis or managing Kiwis. Ironically, even some of the good things about our Kiwi culture (like our laid-back friendliness) can be disconcerting when you don’t understand it. This means they can be unsettled and less productive than they could be.