It is fair to say that no one in the world is cheated when it comes to time because every person has 24 hours in a day. But the key question is how we use our time, especially when organizations have offices situated around the world.
When it comes to working with different cultures, well it can be frustrating not only due to different time zones but also we value time differently. For instance, in North America, we begin to count every second, no wastage of time is allowed. In some other cultures such as Mexico… what is the hurry?
Here are several important elements to keep in mind when working people with different cultures:
Different Values: Many cultures such as Canadian, German, as well as other Western nations usually have a strict business plan which needs to be executed so the results can be measured. For instance, the sales team needs to generate so many sales per week, monthly and yearly so it can meet its quota. Other places such as Congo may also have a similar agenda, but may not necessarily be met so deadlines are flexible.
Tempo: In any diverse workplace, staff members get things completed at a different pace, some get them done quickly while others take their time. In the West, things need to be done on time otherwise there are consequences of being fired or simply being penalized. In other places such as India to come to a decision could take a long time due to various reasons such as bureaucracy.
Usage of Time: A meeting in Canada or the US commences on time and immediately business are underway and the meeting finishes on time. This allows very little time to build a professional relationship because often that is not the main goal. In other nations such as Egypt or other parts of the Middle East, it is vital that people get to know each other over tea and snacks, and build solid relationships before anything moves forward. And it is acceptable for a meeting to be disrupted by other important or perhaps not so important issues.
Dead Lines: In many parts of the world, a deadline is just a deadline. There is always tomorrow, what is the rush. A film director in Mumbai told me one time if he wants anything done on time, he will give a deadline a week earlier than needed because it is rare that deadlines are met. But in the western world, we expect people to show up on time and deadlines to be met on time!
As organizations set up offices around the world, they not only need to understand how other cultures value time and deadlines, but also must be adaptable if they want to succeed in ever changing in the global market.