Can’t teach an old dog new tricks

“Yes to death” is a well known phenomena. In many places people are conditioned never to say “No” and that’s particular true for India and even more so for Indian outsourcing companies. Saying No as well as other forms of delivering “bad news” or “negative message” are considered rude and offensive. The fact that it causes enormous issues on business delivery side is dwarfed by the cultural conditioning. Not long ago I was on an interviewing marathon in Noida, India. Just before the start I spent some time talking with a VP of services for the company. I asked him what his company did to deal with cultural differences. He went on explaining how they invested in cross cultural training and that all employees were specifically trained on “cut to the chase” American culture, and so on. My first interviewee was a project manager with about 10 years of experience. I asked him “Rajiv, imagine the situation that when your team is falling behind because of some serious screw up on my part. What would you tell me to deal with the situation?”. The next five minutes went into back and force of defining the fine details of the situation and I started running out of patience, so I asked again “Will you tell me that you are falling behind and that is my fault?” Rajiv went silent for a few seconds, looked at VP and than said – “Of course I would never tell you that!”

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