August 20, 2019
Company Culture 19 May 2017
How to Bridge Cross-Cultural Employee Relations
Guest Poster
Cross-Cultural Employee Relations

At Valeo Partners, we have operations all over the world. We’re in Scandinavia, based in Stockholm; our operations in the UK are based in the Channel Islands and London; our Middle East Capital company and back-office are both based in Amman, Jordan; our North American operations are based in Miami, Charlotte, and DC. 

Despite operating in many different countries, the upper management has one common goal: building purpose and autonomy with all our various team members, regardless of where they—or we—are. We’ve found, in experiencing these various cultures, that it’s important first to understand the nuances of the country or region in which we are working and what makes those team members “tick."

While our business and the work we do are relatively straightforward, the cross-cultural interactions that happen within the organization are not. Cross-cultural employee relations are tough to build. To bridge these gaps, we keep the following tenets in mind at all times. 

Maintain clear and simple communication. 

This is imperative and everyone needs remember to speak slowly and with purpose. This is especially true when working with team members whose second language is the one you use regularly.

Build culture across borders. 

This is a high priority for us. My brother, Michael and I believe that we must be present in the flesh. Although we have many video conferences daily, nothing ever replaces the face to face time with team members. We get to know them and they get to know us. Getting together in non-work situations, doing group activities and building bonds is critical.

Have a succinct focus on what you are about. 

Our "thing" is simple—Work Hard, Have Fun, Help Others. All of these are part of our DNA and across all platforms where we’re involved. It’s a thread that ties everyone together, regardless of where they are in the world. This helps us build a more powerful company culture, from one country to the next.

Take time to teach. 

We’re always developing, teaching, and spending time with our teammates. All of our managers make time for learning, answering questions and brainstorming every time we’re in a new office.

Be used to working weird hours and be accessible. 

There's nothing that disconnects us more, whether you're down the street or across the world than being inaccessible. We practice this and we preach this. We routinely get up in the middle of the night to work with our various teams' schedules. We try to put them first and work within their time zones when possible.

Build unity across regions. 

We routinely bring regions together and let them compare ideas and get to know each other. We’re all part of the same organization, with the same beliefs and common vision—it’s important to spend time together developing that unity. 

At the end of the day, we’re all human, regardless of culture. We’re all seeking Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose with what we do in our work. We realize this is universal and work hard to make sure that we're empowering employees to get what they're seeking, wherever we happen to be in the world.

Believing in, developing and encouraging and growing a smart tribe like this is necessary for every organization—it may just take a bit more work and commitment across the globe. At the end of the day, we’ve found that even with cultural nuances and variations, people are people, and that will never change, no matter where you are.

Ted W. Rollins, Co-Chairman and Founding Principal of Valeo Groupe, is a seasoned real estate entrepreneur with more than 30 years of experience in real estate investment banking, development, structured finance, start-up businesses, and construction. He is focused on niche opportunity investing in both real estate and financial service sectors, particularly those that balance economic, environmental and social outcomes. Check out Ted’s work on Good Men Project and connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.