Communication Breakdown with France
One of the challenges of international business is that it tends to either slow down to a point of concern for those engaged in it or come to a dead halt. International business is a Social Science that demands an acute understanding of human relations and, of course, of the impact cross-cultural values have on the exchanges. Having lived in several countries and having worked for many foreign organizations, Valérie Antoinette developed the ability to pinpoint the problem, which often lies in some type of cross-cultural misunderstanding or in not having the right people in place for the culture the company tries to penetrate.
Approximately 75% of American international ventures fail every year because organizations have the wrong people in place. Let us help your organization grow through efficient international troubleshooting.
A few months ago, an American company contacted Valérie Antoinette because the American headquarters could not make headway with a French company they had bought a year prior. It seemed as if the French were boycotting the efforts of the Americans in France by refusing to implement the changes and especially refusing to understand the priorities of the American headquarters. Communication between the two locations became tense to the point where nobody wanted to deal with the French, leading to total isolation for the French group. On the French side, they felt misunderstood, ostracized, punished and angry. Some of the most valuable employees of the company had presented their three-month notice, and the American headquarters started realizing that an intervention was necessary or their purchase would soon become valueless.
Valérie Antoinette was brought into the equation to troubleshoot. The first thing for which she asked was sample emails from the people who were engaged in communicating with the French. She collected over 50 random emails from seven people in the organization. Reading through them, she immediately understood that the French were taking the American tone as arrogant, condescending and patronizing. Attuned with the French culture, Valérie knows that the French demand equality in the relationship and respect of the individual at all times. A healthy rapport starts with a respectful greeting, in person or via email and any request is asked under the form of a favor being asked vs. a demand to comply. Looking at the history of the company, Valérie realized that the French company was located in a small town in the southwest of France, a part that is not used to doing business in a transactionist way. She thus suggested to train both sides and bring a level of awareness with regard to the cross-cultural communication differences they would both experience by working together, developing an acceptance for the tolerance while removing the impression of being subjected to the task (or in the case of the Americans, ignored by the French). Thanks to Valérie's international background and multilingual ability, she was able to train the French employees in their native language while training the American headquarters in English on the cultural differences of which they needed to be aware in order to prosper in a country like France.
Troubleshooting the problem and resolving this matter represented a minor investment on the part of the American headquarter. It was quick and followed by an effective training for both sides. The decision to intervene and troubleshoot by bringing Valérie into the equation, however, allowed for the saving of the American investment in France by avoiding the fleeing of valuable employees.