The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
American business culture is focused on the bottom line – getting more done with less. Driven by this mantra of 'time is money', efficiency reigns supreme and businesses seek out only those opportunities that can demonstrate their return-on-investment potential. A strong work ethic, not status or age provides the pathway towards success in an environment where hierarchy could vary significantly based upon industry type, location and organisational history. When navigating such a landscape it's important to be aware of your colleagues' ranks and titles so as to ensure decisions are made properly within established frameworks set forth by organisations themselves.
With its convenience and speed, email has quickly become a staple of American communication. However, many times direct conversation is needed for an effective result; cue technologies such as Skype or video conference calls! These platforms allow clear dialogue that gets to the point without sacrificing efficiency - something Americans have come to expect from emails in their everyday lives.
To ensure a successful business meeting with American colleagues, punctuality is key! It's important to plan ahead and adhere strictly to the scheduled timeslot. If you know there will be a delay on your side, it’s best to alert them of this in advance and possibly reschedule the appointment. Agenda items are likely mapped out carefully beforehand so that all topics can be addressed within the allotted timeframe- skipping any discussions may mean they won't get covered at all as everyone needs their next commitment afterwards!
Because of anti-bribery policies, it is advised not to offer gifts to your U.S. partners. Cash gifts are clearly inappropriate and, in some US companies, it is stated in the contracts or in the internal policies that employees should not be offered any form of gifts. Even paying for your U.S. counterpart’s lunch could be considered inappropriate.Dress CodeAppropriate dress usually depends on region, industry, position, company culture, client facing vs. back-office etc. Senior managers and clients facing workers tend to dress formally at all times (e.g. banking, consulting, sales, lawyers, etc.). In general IT companies do not impose a formal dress code.
There is no specific protocol for the exchange of business cards. It can be done either during introductions, at the beginning of the meeting or when leaving. Most business people now show their position and details in the signature of their email messages template, so business cards tend to be less and less needed. Another medium of communication is increasingly used: LinkedIn. It is replacing business cards as the go-to way to meet contacts and pass on details.
During discussions, it is common to have small talk on a light subject before talking business to create a comfortable environment: weather, travel conditions, sports, a joke, etc. After this short introduction, most Americans start the meeting by getting directly to the point, even when expressing disagreement, and can very well start negotiations by clearly stating their position from the beginning.
During presentations, it is advised to use statistics, evidence and hard data to back up your claims. It is essential to be direct, clear, transparent and open about all matters. Do not be overwhelmed if your American partners impose harsh negotiation terms in order to obtain greater negotiation margins.
Interaction, participation and concentration are important to prove your preparation and interest. Americans are rather uncomfortable with silence, which is usually avoided in business meetings. The use of humour is appreciated and well received, since it facilitates openness in business relations. It is not polite to interrupt someone talking. When the meeting is not scheduled around a meal, snacks are common.
Business meetings that include lunch or dinner are not very common. However if a meeting is conducted in such a context, the business conversation usually begins almost immediately or as soon as everyone has ordered their food.