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Cultural sensitivity and the introduction of performance management


We have successfully launched a refreshed approach to performance management across the USA and UK with great results - next is Belgium where the culture is quite different....any experience, help advice would be gratefully received.

Our performance management approach is based on quarterly objective reviews, annual full review of performance against objectives and against organisational values - with a supporting 360 mechanism. My concern is that the Belgian culture tends to be more 'private' than UK & USA with feedback perceived as intrusion. We certainly dont want to introduce a tool which causes damage rather than helps with the development of our people.

Any advice?
Trevor Durnford

7 Responses

  1. X-Culture
    Hi Trevor,

    I suggest you get in touch with Richard Pooley who is Managing Partner at Canning – a company who specialise in cross cultural skills. You can phone Richard on 020 7937 3233, e-mail him at
    and the Canning website is

    I have done work with Canning for over 7 years and know they will give you good advice. Please feel free to mention me when you contact Richard.


    0788 079 0815

    This is a very interesting area and can cause incredible problems. My advice would be – ask the people themselves! Who best to tell you what they think about how you plan to evaluate and reward their performance – and what their culture is. You could also ask other companies operating in Belgium what they do – but don’t just take HR’s word that what they do is acceptable!

  3. cross cultural management – theory
    If you are interested in theory at all, Hoefsted’s indexes give a good guide to basic assumptions people have in different cultural contexts. One of the popular contemporary (and entertaining) scholars is Charles Hampton Turner form Cambridge. I would recommend his seven cultures of capitalism as broad based introduction to the subject.

    Ali Aliev

  4. The Belgians
    Have you thought about involving them in developing the apraisal systems, that way you could aviod cultural pitfalls?, there might even be a free trip to belgium in it for you!

    Seriously though the best way of introducing any system is proper consultation with the people who will have to use it. Diversity (Equality) is no longer about one size fits all but that there are many sizes and therefore many solutions

  5. have you tried
    It may also be worth talking to GE Transworld they specialise in global cross culture localisation.
    If you do contact them, though, tell them you weere advised to call by TrainingZONE!

    Keith Bryan

  6. Global Excellence
    Contact Richard Cook at Global Excellence ( 020 8579 1980, who has vaste experience of this kind of issue.

    Melanie Hollinshead

  7. Our experience in UK/France

    I’ve been involved in the introduction of a common UK/Fr performance management system 2 years ago and we’ve just enlarged to include an Italian part. Our approach was to involve the French HR teams (who worked with their management teams) from the start. The work included a common competency framework (which was a lot of work!) and a similar process but with flexibility of adoption in the two countries. I don’t know about Belgium but in France and Italy 360 feedback is very difficult – culturally (for our company anyway) the idea of upward feedback and peer feedback have a number of difficulties. A bright spot has been that feedback on styles/hypothetical situations seems acceptable. Please feel free to call me to discuss our experiences.


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