As the inevitable differences arise when running a multi-cultural office, raising employees’ self-esteem can be essential, claim our panel of experts.
During the first of our B2B Business Breakfast sessions, our panel of seasoned experts and entrepreneurs discussed how to nurture Cambodian employees’ critical thinking and self-esteem in the workplace. Overcoming the typical cultural traits of not speaking out or offering opinions, and failing to register any mis-understandings were also common problems that came up during the discussion.
And these are vital topics as handling cultural clashes that take place in the office plays an important role in running a successful business in Cambodia. However, taking the time to understand cultural traits and work with them can truly transform staff motivation and self-esteems in an instant.
“In Asia, working as a group is a lot more prevalent,” says Steve Higgins, former CEO of ANZ Royal bank. “It’s about how when you’re sat around a table to get them to respond.” This can lead to lack of leadership, decision making and creativity. He adds that taking on a facilitator’s role can help in such situations. Asking questions and urging staff to think about the various consequences of different actions or decisions are tried and tested methods he uses.
Learning how to give out constructive criticism and not offending or upsetting staff was another issue that was common among the panel. Ross Pacini, of AC Investments, says, “We may take it as constructive criticism but there isn’t much of that here. It’s a lot more culturally complex here.” He suggests if, for example, a task has been incorrectly completed pointing out what is wrong and then showing how it is carried out is a good way to handle dishing out negative feedback.
“Then you have to switch back to the positive immediately,” Pacini continues. “That way you’re not saying they’ve done anything wrong, you’re teaching them how to do it correctly.” Higgins agrees, adding you have to create a “safe environment” to help them accept anything that could be perceived as negative. “We all make mistakes,” he adds.
Steve Path, of mobile app and web development company, Pathmazing, says it is his aim to encourage his staff to be more “free-thinking” and independent, especially the female techies he employs. “They do tend to be more followers and a little more conservative,” he remarks. “I want to try and change that. I want my staff to speak their mind.”
All in all, the best way to keep staff self-esteem on a high is to have patience, understanding and try to tease out that free thought.