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Offshoring Etiquette According to Ritu and Rajan

August 24, 2007
Cultural misunderstandings can often derail otherwise successful offshore contracts. Underappreciated Indian employees may burn out and leave a project. American managers might hear "yes" when their Indian counterpart is really saying "no." Avoid the pitfalls. Take the advice of Rajan Bhandari, senior manager at iGate Global Solutions, and his colleague Ritu Aurora, a division head of learning and development at iGate. Your workforce—Indian and American alike—may thank you for it.

  1. Make sure your workforce supports your offshoring efforts and does not see them as a threat.

  2. Travel to India to introduce yourself to your offshore workforce: Your Indian team will work harder for you if they know who you are.

  3. Expect to be called "sir" or "ma’am" by subordinates and accept that honorific.

  4. Don’t shake an Indian woman’s hand unless she shakes yours first.

  5. Don’t try to be "one of the boys," or you risk losing respect of the people who work under you.

  6. Ask your Indian offshore team’s opinion on matters.

  7. Be specific about time and when you want something done. If you say you want something finished by the end of the month, give a precise date.

  8. Be realistic in your understanding of how quickly something can be accomplished.

  9. "Maybe" often means "no" in India. Indians are culturally averse to saying no. To say no is to reject someone’s wishes and that is considered rude. Plus, Indians are eager to please and generally are non-confrontational. Rather than tell you something can’t be done they will say "maybe." Take this as a clue and ask them if their "maybe" means "no."

  10. Don’t act as if the world revolves around you. Cultural sensitivity and appreciation will earn you the respect of your Indian workforce.

Workforce Management, August 20, 2007, p. 23 -- Subscribe Now!