How do you meet deadlines when working cross-culturally? Seriously—how do you do it?

davidlivermore | March 27th, 2012 5 Comments

There’s no cultural difference that’s more easily understood by people than those that have to do with “time-orientation”. A few ways we explain this in the cross-cultural domain is contrasting cultures according to:

Event Time vs. Clock Time

Monochronic vs. Polychronic

Being vs. Doing

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Orientation

Understanding these cultural differences is the first step. It helps calibrate our assumptions and it slows down how quickly we might label someone “incompetent” or “up tight”.

But the reality is—every leader and organization has to meet certain deadlines.

I do. I’m up against this constantly. Full disclosure: I’m a bit of a nut case with expecting timely follow through from myself and others. But even for those not as hyper about it as me, there are decisions that have to be made and projects that have to be delivered. At some point, “We’re working on it” doesn’t work. (And I know—sometimes, “We have to get this done” isn’t possible).

So how do you do it? This is an honest question—not a rhetorical set-up for, Let me tell you how. I’m genuinely interested in your strategies for how you work with either side of this—a culture, individual, or organization that approaches “deadlines” and timely responsiveness differently than you do.

How do you make it work? How do you manage both the process and the relationship? Feel free to share one line or a paragraph so we can learn about this together.

 

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