Overcoming the Cultural Gap When Outsourcing

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges when it comes to looking for outsourcing companies in the Philippines–and certainly a common point of detraction–is the question of cultural differences. Some of the most common differences which can have a profound effect on business relationships include societal values, personal values, communication styles, and goal perception. Addressing these with great remote outsourcing is a strong key to success.

The Differences Laid Out

For instance, eastern cultures like that in the Philippines place a premium on the family and community over the more individualistic leanings of western cultures. In terms of how they communicate, many Americans find it frustrating that people of eastern cultures tend to beat around the bush–where Americans can be pretty blunt. Finally, easterners tend to have a more long-term orientation versus their western counterparts.

A Matter of Motivation

One perfect example of how these differences come into play is in motivation. With Americans, there’s always a strong focus on achieving personal goals and individual growth. Whether it’s to be independent, start their own business, and maybe even just upgrade their lifestyles, Americans are driven to success by something more personal. This means that their work needs to be able to provide these to their satisfaction as it is just as easy to find better opportunities.

While it cannot be said that Filipinos don’t have the same kind of drive, there’s always going to be an underlying motivation to provide for their families. Whether that’s towards caring for aging parents, providing for their kids, or even supporting their siblings, this motivation often overrides anything more personal. In terms of work, this means that a job should ensure that they have enough to provide for these things that are important to them.

Problems of Communication

Another example that’s quite a big source of frustration has to do with how employees differ in terms of communicating. Americans are very blunt and straightforward, generally. This means that, if there’s a problem, you can expect an employee to speak up and point it out. This also means that when employers go straight to an employee with a correction and criticism, it’s more likely to be readily accepted–or at least expected.

Filipinos and many other eastern cultures are the opposite. A study by Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede has found that they are more likely to keep mum even if they have knowledge about the possible failure of a particular project or venture. This isn’t a matter of wanting failure, but more a need to avoid the nasty repercussions of speaking out–like getting the blame, for instance. This also means that they are far more sensitive to criticisms that are blunt–preferring things couched in softer terms.

Where the Problems Lie

There are two layers to consider when talking about the challenges behind the culture gap. The first is obvious: differences like those mentioned above create a dense minefield that can easily trigger conflict. The second is the natural reaction to the first: either side can develop a deep sense of resentment for the other. Worst among the possible end results of venturing through these layers in day-to-day interactions is stonewalling on the part of every party involved.

Ultimately, this can lead to strain which is far more difficult to deal with when you’re talking about a remote team that’s an ocean away. The distance simply doesn’t allow for quick appeasement. The solution, then, is to deal with the challenges of the culture gap long before they take root and cause trouble for you and your remote team.

Outsource to Those Who Build Bridges

Dealing with the cultural gap is easier when you realize that the first step is to pick out a partner among the many outsourcing companies in the Philippines that already understand both cultures. Quite simply, this is one that was started by an American. Off the bat, this puts you in the advantageous position of having someone on the other side who grew up in the same culture as yours. This leads to an innate understanding of the values that you hold there.

Have a Grasp on Who You Are

The next crucial step is to be prepared going into the partnership, to begin with. This includes being clear about who and what your company is, what values you wish to reflect, as well as the work ethic that you want to see. These things should then be communicated in order for the right match to be made to an effective remote team. Information packets and even slideshows go a long way towards providing a reference point to what your expectations are.

Be Involved

AT&T has long found success outsourcing many of its operations to Filipinos in contact centers in the country. These include critical processes like customer and technical support as well as retention of clients on the verge of leaving. The way that they prepare Filipinos for the challenges and rigors of the job is through the institution of culture-focused training programs that usually run a month prior to even talking about the operational side of things.
If the many years of success AT&T has enjoyed is any indication, it’s certainly the way to go.  Some of the best outsourcing companies in the Philippines provide assistance with training which is crucial if you want to leverage the cost-effectiveness of a fully remote team. Apart from providing a robust training program addressing any and all cultural concerns that you might have, you also should make it a point to continuously be in dialogue with your remote team to ensure that things like criticisms and complaints on your part are conveyed and addressed to your satisfaction.
Cultural differences are a reality that comes part and parcel when working with remote outsourcing companies, but it isn’t an insurmountable challenge. Again, the key is to start things off on the right foot with a company that understands where you’re coming from. Also, look for the openness of your prospect to the application of your own training to develop the talent you’re to onboard. Finally, make sure that they provide the proper avenues by which you can not only be involved in developing your remote team, but also communicating properly your needs, goals, and wants.
At CrewBloom, we understand the unique needs of your business as well as recognize the importance of being on the same page. As one of the best outsourcing companies in the Philippines, we offer only the top 2% of talent is sourced from a careful selection process that takes into account the need to adapt to your culture. We include you in all steps of forming a team to ensure that you get exactly what you want–and nothing less. Schedule a free consultation with us today so we can talk about how to get you growing for less than 60% of the cost.

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