(How to make) Opposites attract.

The idea of “opposites attract” was first put forward in psychology in the 1950s by Robert Francis Winch. He taught us that it was not similarities that made a relationship work, but complementarities. Keeping this in mind we need to take ‘opposites attract’ with a grain of salt. We need to be aware that it is not just the differences that make a relationship work but being aware of these differences and how to harmonize them so it becomes beneficial for both parties. In a work commitment this also remains the case.


Therefore, we would like to present 3 tips for IM’s and 3 tips for companies when working with opposite company cultures based on the research over organizations’ cultural profiles by HBR. The research teaches us that there are 8 styles of company culture: caring, purpose, learning, enjoyment, results, authority, safety and order.


Western-Europe, where ADM is present, finds itself between a company culture that is result and authority driven. New-Zealand and Australia have company cultures that are driven by caring among each other and purpose. On the axles these two are diametrically opposed. They are opposites. But… how can we make these opposites attract?


3 tips for IM’s that are result driven adapting to a caring company culture:

  • Be aware of how people interact: your way of communicating can come over as too direct and emotionless in a caring business culture. Be aware of this and bring across your message, but without stepping on anyone’s toes.

  • Be aware of possible regional culture differences: when designing work teams reporting structures, managers should take into account whether regional cultures might drive employees toward collaboration or independent effort and to what extent employees expect hierarchy and structure. Not taking these factors in consideration is one reason so many global expansion efforts fail. (2021, HBR)

  • Be aware to not make stereotypes: (Interim) Managers should not make broad assumptions or make stereotypes bases solely on regional origin. They should take the time to get to know their team, each individual and try and understand and acknowledge the cultures that live and operate within the organization.




3 tips for companies that are caring orientated and welcome a result driven IM:

  • Introduce the IM properly to the team before he/she starts. This way the team will be already acquainted with the IM and more open to his/her suggestions. The IM will already get a whiff of the company’s culture and its employees.

  • Enlighten the IM with your company’s norms, values and culture. What is done and absolutely not done. Because… forewarned is forearmed.

  • Guard that the handover goes smoothly. It is of major importance that the IM knows the ins and outs of the complete project. This is important for the credibility of the IM and the most optimal collaboration between the team and IM.


When preserving these tips, being aware of differences and turning these dissimilarities in complementarities a victorious cooperation/ fruitful partnership will prevail.

Source: https://hbr.org/2020/01/how-corporate-cultures-differ-around-the-world

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