What We Do

Deena Levine & Associates, LLC provides global cross-cultural consulting, training, and online learning programs for leaders, managers and teams worldwide, addressing business issues and needs arising from cultural differences. Clients receive face-to-face or virtual training and consultation designed to enhance insight on cross-cultural perceptions, and to introduce skills for communicating and working effectively in global and virtual contexts.

Examples of DL&A Consulting, Training, and Online Learning
Resources

Services

DL&A consulting, training, and online learning programs focus on or can be customized for the following areas:

Global and Virtual Teamwork

Global team members collaborating either face-to-face or virtually can expect cultural differences to be operating and affecting how everyone on the team works. To help maximize their collective productivity, they need to become aware of their diverse styles of communication, and then develop agreement about mutual accommodation. This is especially critical when teamwork is virtual. Learning about and adapting to these cultural differences would ideally take place when a new project is initiated or shortly thereafter, with follow-up as needed. We provide training and coaching (virtual or in-person) to team members throughout the world. Addressing cross-cultural interaction on global and virtual teams can facilitate the development of trust and more effective collaboration.

Some core questions addressed in projects involving global and virtual teamwork include:

  • What are the effects of culture on team member's communication styles? How does culture influence team member's patterns of interaction, meeting participation, decision–making, conflict resolution, feedback and the structuring of information?
  • What is the dominant communication style taking place (e.g., on teleconferences) and does that style work for all?
  • How do cultural notions of authority and hierarchy affect team member's behavior, especially in group participation, decision-making and conflict resolution?
  • In view of identified personal and cultural style differences, has the team explicitly considered and chosen the most effective technologies for communication?
  • Has the team engaged in any team-building for virtual teams?
  • Has the team developed mutually agreed-upon expectations for good communication and ways to resolve or reconcile any difficulties should they arise?
Workplace Communication Effectiveness Across Cultures

Expectations for what constitutes good communication differ across cultural groups. People raised in cultures that value efficiency and expect rapid results tend to communicate very differently than people from a culture in which developing and maintaining relationships is more important than immediately "getting down to business." Many acts of communication contain a cultural dimension, including:

  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Building relationships, including small-talk or light social conversation
  • Structuring information and questions
  • Making decisions and resolving conflict
  • Delivering presentations
  • Facilitating meetings

Some core questions addressed in projects involving Workplace Communication Effectiveness Across Cultures include:

  • How is communication different in a relationship-focused culture versus one that is highly task-oriented?
  • Why do some team members consistently answer seemingly straightforward "Yes/No" questions in a vague manner?
  • What are some considerations when giving feedback to people from other cultures?
  • How can managers coach their employees from different cultures to be more effective communicators?
  • What do individuals need to learn about the "cultural use" of a particular language in their work environment?
  • What constitutes good international business English? How can English be used as inclusively as possible?
  • How can employees deliver presentations more effectively?

In addition to developing awareness of key cultural variations in these areas, leaders, managers and team members can acquire skills through coaching, training, and online learning, broadening their ability to communicate effectively with diverse cultural groups.

Global Sales and Customer Service

Cross-cultural competence means knowing how others perceive you as well as having the skills and cross-cultural insight to build rapport and correctly interpret others' behavior, including nonverbal cues. Selling and customer service involve establishing trust and comfort, as well as conveying respect across cultures. Behaviors associated with trust-building and respect can differ from region to region. Working with interpreters, attending to nonverbal cues, negotiating, and resolving conflicts are just some of the issues affecting sales and customer service across cultures.

Some core questions addressed in projects involving Global Sales and Customer Service include:

  • What should professionals know about different ways of greeting, engaging in conversation and English language usage when selling and providing customer service across cultures?
  • What are some of the variations in expectations for meetings and presentations in different regions of the world?
  • How does negotiation differ across cultures and regions?
  • How are the close of a sale and contracts viewed in different pats of the world?
Managing Teams Across Cultures

Managing teams across cultures requires more skill than when managers are in their own cultural "territory," working with people of the same background. Misunderstandings may increase as a result of how people prefer to communicate. There may be no overt recognition of cultural differences, and therefore no process for reconciling differences. Managing across cultures often involves recognition that what has worked in the past locally or with a co-located team may not work globally. A manager needs to be able to reconcile various styles on a cross-national team. Knowledge of how one's own culture affects one's perceptions and behavior is critical. Managers require communication skill and, at the same time, need to know how to encourage verbal participation and collaboration by all members. Well-managed cross-cultural teams can be strong; they have the potential for complementary and robust approaches to decision-making, increased creativity, and excellent relationships with a diverse customer base.

Some core questions addressed in projects involving Managing Teams Across Cultures include:

  • How can managers coach their employees to be more effective communicators with other team members?
  • What are the team members' expectations about working with others?
  • How do team members view the purpose of certain kinds of meetings? For example, do brainstorming meetings typically work equally well across all cultural groups? If not, what are alternative ways of soliciting input?
  • Are managers aware of "cultural dimensions" (Geert Hofstede) and their impact on team performance (e.g., individualism vs. group orientation, power distance [relationship to authority and effect on communication], uncertainty avoidance [readiness to take risks], monochronic time versus circular time, indirect and direct communication, face-saving)?
  • Are managers of multicultural teams encouraging a team culture by developing shared guidelines for behavior?
Multicultural and Diverse Workforce

Organizations that build a culture of respect vis-a-vis differences at all levels become the kind of workplaces where people want to work and remain. Additionally, these organizations are often better able to attract customers from diverse backgrounds. A mixture of employees can foster more input and feedback on creative endeavors within the organizations, and greater understanding of the markets that the organization serves. There are many layers to Workforce Diversity or Multicultural Workforce Diversity. However, one overarching tenet is that if differences are overlooked, the consequences can be far-reaching. These can include sub-optimal multicultural team functioning, and low employee morale and productivity. Attrition may also increase, and organizations may be less able to recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

  • Are employees conscious of attitudes they may hold toward those who are different from them? If so, does this affect their professional workplace relationships?
  • What do employees need to know to be able to function effectively in diverse work environments?
  • Are employees attuned to the needs of customers from diverse backgrounds, including, for example, dimensions of age, disability, religion, nationality, race, or sexual orientation?
  • Do organizational policies and systems promote a culture of respect for differences?
Cross-Cultural Coaching

We provide customized virtual and face-to-face coaching for individuals and small groups, concentrating on:

  • Communication style - assisting clients in becoming aware of the impact of their particular communication style; teaching skills for business communication effectiveness
  • Cross-cultural and general communication competencies - assertiveness, active listening, non-defensive communication
  • Meeting facilitation and presentation delivery
  • Speaking style improvement - clear articulation, appropriate speed and volume
Global Diversity

Language and cultural differences have frequently been referred to as "barriers." More recently, companies have realized that systematic capitalization of cultural and regional differences creates competitive advantages in the global marketplace. Innovations in services and products, as well as development of new business opportunities, are just two areas that benefit from the input of diverse opinions and perspectives.

There are many types of global diversity initiatives. Basic goals include:

  • Demonstrating awareness of the differences in business practices, language use, regulatory environments, and cultural perspectives around the world, and promoting a culture of "inclusion."
  • Increasing understanding of specific differences across cultures and regions, and creating accommodations where appropriate.
  • Developing institutional acceptance for multiple methods of conducting business worldwide.
  • Encouraging the flexibility needed to capitalize on ideas and opportunities that present themselves in diverse regions and markets.

One of the overarching objectives in a global diversity approach is working towards a "global mindset," which can be defined as follows:

…an overall attitude embedded in the culture of an organization that recognizes cultural and cross-cultural complexity in business operations. A global mindset enables employees to view events and issues from multiple perspectives and cultural frameworks. Managers who have a global mindset possess competencies for effective business transactions across cultures, understand the need for global inclusion in all walks of business life, and have skills for people management globally.

(Adapted from Stephen Rhinesmith, author of A Manager's Guide to Globalization: Six skills for Success in a Changing World)

Some core questions addressed in projects related to Global Diversity include:

  • Are employees in your organization operating with a "global mindset"?
  • Is the concept of "inclusion" an organizational value that is conveyed worldwide?
  • What are the key dimensions of diversity that need to be considered in the organization's different world regions (e.g., gender, race, disability, religion, and nationality)?
  • Does senior management view the workforce as global or through the prism of headquarter's culture?
Global Diversity Survey Development

Many organizations globalize quickly before corporate cultures have a chance to evolve from western or eastern to truly global or international. Employees in their own country-based headquarters may not understand how others outside their country perceive the ways they do business, communicate or manage their everyday operations. Diversity councils, human resource managers, and other leaders may want to know how to further their global approach, but do not have input from their global subsidiaries.


Our services and products include:
  • Consultation on global diversity assessments and surveys designed to help organizations gain insight into an appropriate direction for a global diversity approach
  • Specialized global diversity assessments/surveys for leaders, managers and employees at all organizational levels
  • Surveys and assessments spanning a wide range of topics such as: diversity, cultural differences, cross-cultural and cross-regional communication effectiveness, and notions of inclusiveness, and values across cultures

Some core topics assessed in global diversity survey projects include:

  • Definitions of global culture or global mindset from within the organization
  • Perspectives of worldwide leaders and managers on headquarters' culture, and global subsidiary needs
  • Identification of gaps commonly associated with "inclusiveness" across the organization's regions (e.g., gender, disability, age, ethnicity, nationality)
  • Communication challenges across cultures and organizational functions

Examples of DL&A Consulting and Training Projects

  • Large-scale global management projects requiring the ability to work effectively across the globe.
    Example: DL&A played a major role in a Fortune 100 global diversity initiative intended to shift the organization's diversity focus from domestic to global. This project involved international online surveys in 14 languages, and collaboration with the company's executive diversity council.
  • Extensive support of global retail and corporate training divisions.
    Example: DL&A provided worldwide trainers for global sales and corporate cultural training programs for a Fortune 50 company for eight years. The assignment included coordination of trainers on four continents, and liaison with global subsidiaries.
  • Change management initiatives, including cross-cultural training for members of international projects, including offshore and onshore teams.
    Example: DL&A has conducted many training programs for teams in the West working with South Asian counterparts on workplace communication styles, and on bridging cultural gaps to improve collaboration and productivity. DL&A trainers have coached many U.S. - India teams to create "team operating principles" or communication guidelines for shared expectations and behaviors.
  • Customized training components for coaches requiring culture-specific information when working with clients.
    Example: DL&A developed customized coaching for Japanese managers who wanted to increase their understanding of Japanese-Indian cross-cultural communication.
  • Development of virtual, including video, training sessions for global organizations with managers and team members on several continents.
    Example: DL&A has conducted needs assessments of managers worldwide to learn about key cross-cultural issues in organization's largely virtual projects. DL&A has provided customized training components addressing organization's needs.