In Global Commerce, language can be a barrier to conducting business effectively. Many US companies have overseas parents, including DaimlerChrysler AG, Bertelsmann, Diageo PLC, and Anglo Dutch Unilever PLC. Similarly, US companies have an overseas presence for example, Ford has manufacturing plants in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom. To make matters more complicated as a result of mergers and acquisitions, companies are often owned by multiple overseas parents, creating an even greater strain on communication. Although English is the dominant language at many multinational companies, failing to speak a host country’s language can make it tougher for managers to do their jobs well, especially if they are misinterpreted what others are saying. Such communication problems make it tougher to conduct business effectively and efficiently, and may result in lost business opportunities.
To avoid communication problems, many companies require their managers to learn the local language. For example, German based Siemens requires its managers to learn the language of the host country. Ernst Behrens, the head of Siemens’s China operations learned to speak Mandarin fluently. Robert Kimmett, a former Siemens’s board member, believes that learning a host country’s language gives managers ‘a better grasp of what is going on inside a company not just the facts and figures but also texture and nuance.
However, learning a foreign language can be difficult for managers. The difficulty for North Americans in learning a foreign language is often deepened when the language is Eastern, such as Japanese or Chinese Mandarin, because the language is so different. To compensate US managers sometimes rely on body language and facial expressions to communicate. The problem is that there are cultural differences in these non-verbal forms of communication that may result in serious misunderstandings. To avoid this pitfall, one solution would be for managers to familiarize themselves with their host country’s culture.
A careful review finds a common theme regarding the relationship between communication and employee satisfaction: the less the uncertainty, the greater the satisfaction, Distortions, ambiguities, and incongruities in communications all increase uncertainty and, hence, they have a negative impact on satisfaction.
The less distortion that occurs in communication the more that of goals feedback and other management messages to employees will be received as they were intended. This, in turn should reduce ambiguities and clarify the group’s task. Extensive use of vertical lateral and informal channels will increase communication flow, reduce uncertainty, and improve group performance and satisfaction. We should also expect incongruities between verbal and nonverbal communiqués to increase uncertainty and to reduce satisfaction.
Findings suggest that the goal of perfect communication is unattainable. Yet, there is evidence that demonstrates a positive relationship between effective communication which includes factors such as perceived trust, perceived accuracy, desire for interaction, top-management receptiveness and upward information requirements and worker productivity. Choosing the correct channel, being an effective listener, and using feedback may, therefore, make for effective communication. But the human factor generates distortions that can never be fully eliminated. The communication process represents an exchange of messages, but the outcome is meanings that may to may not approximate those that the sender intended. Whatever the sender’s expectations, the decoded message in the mind of the receiver represents his or her reality. And it is this reality that will determine performance, along with the individual’s level of motivation and degree of satisfaction. The issue of motivation is critical so we should brief to our team members how communication is central in determining an individual’s degree of motivations.