By Jose J. Ruiz
Peace itself is not the absence of conflicts. Rather, peace means solving differences through peaceful ways, such as dialogues, education, and knowledge. Communication, thus, is the best way to deliver resolution.
In a multicultural environment, such as an American manager in Mexico, conflicts must be understood with a theoretical framework. According to Hofstede’s cultural dimension theory, which is a framework for cross-cultural communications, cultural values influence behaviors. There are four dimensions of the cultural values: individualism-collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance (strength of social hierarchy), and masculinity-femininity (task orientation versus person-orientation).
Familiarize yourself with these four values by training yourself to analyze every incident. There are no two identical incidents. Thus it is advised to take note of them so that you can use them as points of reference in the future.
Applied in the five stages of conflict resolution, these four dimensions can be compared as follows.
First, the conflict scene.
In Mexican culture, which is more collective than American, emotions are more obvious. Therefore, competition and conflicts can occur more frequently and become aggressive. Whenever possible, avoid competition and conflicts. An American manager can choose to be more ritualistic than competitive among team members.
Second, the gathering information.
In Mexican culture, information is kept more secretly as it has emotional value. The relationship between an employee and the company is also more emotional. In American culture, an employee is emotionally independent of the company and information has a relative value.
Third, the agreement with the problem.
In Mexican culture, it is important for an employee to agree with the leader. Thus someone is responsible for a failure. In American culture, it is not important for an employee to agree with a manager and when there is a mistake, often the system is to blame, not the person.
Fourth, the solution finding activity.
Culturally, most Mexicans tend to resist change, are risk averse, and fear failure. Americans are more likely to invite change, take a risk, and hope for success. Thus, Mexicans may appear more reserved, while Americans may look more welcoming.
Fifth, the negotiation of solutions.
In Mexican culture, loyalty is a favorable virtue; thus company rules should not be broken. This also means people are less ready to compromise. In American culture, on the contrary, loyalty is seen as a relative virtue, rules can be changed for valid reasons, and people are more prepared to compromise.
An American manager who works in Mexico, thus, understands the extra effort that they must perform to resolve conflicts peacefully. Understanding the Hofstede’s cultural dimension theory and applying it in the five stages of conflict resolution is a good start.
Combine it with good communication and interpersonal skills; peace can be achieved with understanding. Whenever possible, foster dialogue with team-building and cultural activities.
ABOUT JOSE J. RUIZ
Jose Ruiz serves as Alder Koten’s Chief Executive Officer providing vision, strategic direction and the roadmap for the executive recruiting firm’s future. He is also involved in executive search work focused on board members, CEOs and senior-level executives; and consulting engagements related to leadership and organizational effectiveness helping clients create thriving cultures. An important part of his time is spent on research work focused on organizational effectiveness centered on leadership and culture. Prior to joining Alder Koten, Jose was a Principal with Heidrick & Struggles’ Global Industrial Practice based in Houston, TX and Monterrey, Mexico. His professional experience also includes leadership positions in engineering and operations management for manufacturing organizations in the US and Mexico. This experience includes serving as vice president and general manager at Holley Performance Products. Jose serves on the board of Shelmex and on America’s Council of the Association of Executive Search Consultants where he also chairs the Boutique and Independent Search Firm Forum.
Jose holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from the Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. He is fluent in English and Spanish.
Jose can be reached at jose.ruiz@alderkoten or at his office in Houston +1 (713) 476–9000
ABOUT ALDER KOTEN
Alder Koten has recruiters and research teams in Mexico and the United States. The firm was founded in 2011. Its headquarters are located in Houston and it has offices in Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City with partner firms in New York, Boston, Chicago, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and United Kingdom. Alder Koten recruiters serve multiple industries including automotive, building products, construction & projects, consumer markets, energy & chemicals, equipment & industrial products, financial services, life sciences, medical devices, maquiladora, mining & metals, professional services, renewable resources, technology, and transportation & logistics. The firm is a proud standing member of the Association of Executive Search Consultants. The Association of Executive Search Consultants was founded in 1959 as the Association of Executive Recruiting Consultants (AERC) for the dual purposes of creating a professional association for the most competent and reputable search firms, and for providing clients and prospective clients a means by which to differentiate qualified and ethical practitioners.