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Eastern culture and the role of a manger

Are the managers in your organization subject matter experts or problem-solvers? Eastern culture and Western culture breed different types of leaders, and knowing the advantages and disadvantages can help you in your own managerial selection and training.

culture in the workplace

culture in the workplace

In Eastern culture, professional hierarchy differs

It’s obvious that culture effects management, but it also is important to note that culture affects the role your manager plays in an organization. In many Asian cultures, the role of a manger is heavily steeped in cultural expectations, many of which are shrouded in ancient ideas of hierarchy and power.

In Asia (China and Japan in particular), managers are expected to be the subject matter experts who can give employees the “right” answer at the drop of a hat, versus American managers who are prompted to play more of a problem-solving management role.

In the US, a manager not knowing an answer is perfectly acceptable. U.S. managers are expected to engage in creative problem solving by sparking innovation and ingenuity through deductive reasoning, questioning, or simply sending employees on the tail of one who just may have the answer.

Depending on where your organization/business operates, here are a few things to keep in mind as you attract and hire management.

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Subject Matter Expert Manager

SME managers are expected to know the ins and outs of their role to the nth degree. Their primary focus is to stay abreast of any and all changes in their scope of responsibility.

  • PROS: Peace of mind knowing that any and all problems can be handled by the SME manager in your absence.
  • CONS: SME managers may come across as rigid and unresponsive to shifts in the market, new knowledge or technology.

Problem-Solver Manager

Problem-solver managers should be creative, ingenious and open to new ideas of innovation. Their focus is leading employees to discover answers.

  • PROS: New, fresh ideas and problem mitigation.
  • CONS: Manager may come across as ineffectual when interacting with those from another culture.

How you want your effective managers to manage depends greatly on who they’ll be managing and where. Keep location and the culture of your employees in mind when selecting management. It’s best not to overlook the cultural (national and local) implications of what a manger should be.

Written By

Monica Moffitt, founder and Principal Cultural Consultant at Tianfen Consulting, Inc., has traveled the world and enjoys linguistics and all things culture. Having split her career between project management and business analytics, Monica merges logic, fluency in Chinese and creativity in her new role as cultural consultant. She received a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies/Chinese from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Business Administration (International Management and Marketing) from University of Texas at Dallas.

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