Leadership Crossroads Newsletter

Book Of The Quarter
An Everyone
A unique model for creating a corpo­rate culture of deve­loping everyone in what the authors call a Delibe­rately Develop­mental Organi­zation.
(click title for full book review)


Website Of The Quarter
Methods from
around the World
We urge you to take a look at this inter­esting visuali­zation of how leader­ship is com­monly prac­ticed across different cul­tures!
(click title for full book review)


Quote Of The Quarter
Before you embark
on a journey
of revenge,
dig two graves

Leadership Crossroads

is a competent resource for

  • Global Business Training & Coaching
  • Global Negotiation Training and Assistance
  • Global Project Management
  • Organizational Learning and Development
    across Cultures
  • Executive Coaching

Serving clients
world-wide since 2004

A complete book in a
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In Focus:  Feedback Loopholes


I meant to ask you: how have I been doing lately, performance-wise?

(Your boss)

Well, there is an issue I’ve been meaning to talk to you about. I didn’t quite like the way you handled your last project, and here’s why: […]

Sounds familiar? If you are American, the answer is probably ‘not really.’ Bosses in the U.S., at least the decent ones, learn early on to start and end perfor­mance feed­back on an encoura­ging note, squeezing what may be the real message in-between the two posi­tive blocks. This ‘sandwich,’ as this style of deli­vering feed­back is often called, usually goes some­thing like this:

(Your boss)

You’re doing great in many areas. For example, I really liked … [example] and ... [example]. Where you may want to focus a bit more is in … [problem area] because … [example]. But overall, you’re a really solid per­former and with just a little more focus, I am con­vinced you can become one of the best contri­butors on the team.

The purpose of the ‘sandwich’ is to give employees balanced feed­back in ways that avoid demoti­vating them. At the same time, it caters to the subordi­nates’ need to be valued and feel good about them­selves. All of which makes perfect sense, so why would anybody in the world do this differ­ently?

Well, bosses using the ‘sandwich’ could be in for a sur­prise with a German or Dutch employee, for instance. It goes without saying that in these cultures, where direct and frank communi­cation is gene­rally favored, feed­back should also cover both, the good and the not-so-good aspects of job perfor­mance. It is also still impor­tant here to end on a positive note, rather than risking to frustrate and demoti­vate the employee. However, sand­wiching feed­back likely weakens the impact of more critical aspects. In direct cultures, people tend to take messages lite­rally, so employees hearing praise-critique-praise may draw a conclusion along the lines of “She/he just had to find some­thing to nag about so it wouldn’t sound like I’m doing every­thing right. Things are fine, though.” While the ‘sandwich’ is a good approach when dealing with highly direct cultures if ‘fairly good’ is indeed the inten­ded message, a boss wanting to get a point of critique across clearly may be better advised to start with the criti­cal aspects.

Needless to say: there is also the oppo­site end of the spectrum. In cultures where highly indirect communi­cation is the norm, for instance much of Asia, feed­back is gene­rally delivered, if at all, in the form of genera­lizations or through neutral-sounding stories. That makes it easy to miss the salient point for Wester­ners on the receiv­ing end, while Western bosses run a risk of Asian emplo­yees inter­preting critical feed­back much more harshly than it was intended. As always in cross-cultural communi­cation, paying attention to the other’s back­ground is helpful.

Not sure if you noticed, but the dialog starting this essay includes another, rather ‘exotic’ element: you ask for feed­back?! Honestly, how often do you do that? For most people, the answer is probably “rarely if ever.” Many humans are reluc­tant to ask anyone, let alone their boss, for feed­back, fearing what they might hear could challenge their views of them­selves and/or affect the relation­ship with the other person. As under­standable as it may be, this reluct­ance cuts them off what may well be their biggest personal develop­ment oppor­tunity. After all, how can you deter­mine how others see you and achieve greater impact by adjus­ting behaviors accor­dingly, without ever getting feedback from them?

Another type of indivi­dual is one who asks for feedback but seemingly does not want to hear any­thing other than “You’re great!” In the face of critical feed­back, this type starts arguing, aiming to convince others that their views are wrong. Unsur­prisingly, these indivi­duals soon run out of people who are willing to give them honest feed­back, which in essence creates the same dilemma as above.

Neither of these types is culture-specific. What they have in common is that they risk missing out on the most valu­able way –by far– to develop oneself: feedback (*). Fre­quently giving quality feed­back and encoura­ging it from others are quali­ties that charac­terize success­ful people.

American, German, Chinese, or else: it does not matter.

(*) If you are not convinced, may I suggest reading our Book of the Quarter?

This article is also available in PDF format   (requires Adobe Reader ).

Blended Online Training:     Working Effectively across Cultures

This highly interactive online training includes individual self-paced learning and webinar-style exchanges of experience with the facilitator and others in the class.   Check out our  module preview  to get an idea of how much fun online learning can be!
Working Effectively across Cultures
  • Can be spread over as little as two days and as much as two weeks.
  • Flexible schedules allow learners to get most of their normal work done.
  • Online access from anywhere facilitates multi­cultural learning.
  • Webinars can leverage client’s normal environ­ment.
  • Newsletter informs learners of next steps.
  • Password-protected site provides self-paced modules, course information, and additional materials.

Please  contact us  if you would like to know more about this innovative online training.
International Business
The Global   
Business Culture Guide
Negotiating International Business book

Kindle E-Book

The Global Business Culture Guide book

Kindle E-Book      

All 50 individual Country Sections from Negotiating International Business are available online for free.
Download Country Section PDF files now.

Lothar Katz

Lothar Katz is the founder of Leadership Crossroads.  He has helped many clients achieve productive cooperation across cultures and drive business success on a global scale.
A seasoned global executive, he regularly interacted with em­ployees, cus­tomers, out­sourcing partners, and third parties in numerous countries around the world.

Contact : info@leadershipcrossroads.com
Leadership CrossroadsSM, 2016

Global Business Practices:
Ten Tips for Doing Business in Israel
  • Israelis can be very direct, appearing brash and sometimes in-­your-­face abrasive without realizing it.
  • Israeli thinking tends to be analytical, abstractive, and conceptual. However, feelings and faith may overrule objective facts when it comes to decision making here.
  • Prepare to be interrupted frequently. Most Israelis enjoy intense and heated discussions.
  • Although many people speak English very well in this country, dis­cussions frequently switch to Hebrew. Don't read anything into this.
  • People in Israel usually show egalitarian preferences. Formal authority and lines of hierarchy may not always be accepted / respected.
  • This is a "polychronic" culture. Don't expect people to follow check­lists or to stay focused on one thing at a time.
  • People here may be standing physically closer to you than what you are comfortable with.
  • Show respect for the country's culture and its people's intense national pride. Israelis can be quick to take offense.
  • Remember that Sabbath (Friday night to Saturday night) is a holy day. The work week starts on Sunday.
  • Don't ever give someone a "thumbs up", as doing so may be taken as an offensive gesture.

Our newsletter is a quarterly publication about all aspects of International and Cross-Cultural Business Management.  The 4Q 2016 issue is on the web at
www.leadershipcrossroads.com/news_1016.htm.  Past issues can be found in our  newsletter archive.

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