Outsourcing Change Management–Relationship Breakdown: It ain’t just culture

By November 9, 2010April 6th, 2022Archive

Excuse the excrable use of grammar to make a point. So much fault in outsourcing relationships is laid at the feet of what we call culture–the provider team do not know who the Yankees are, they don’t celebrate Christmas, they have too many holidays.  In other words, they just aren’t like us. And the latest NBC offering “Outsource” doesn’t help; making poor jokes out of young Indian call center staff who haven’t figured out Halloween or why Americans think it’s cool to wear aprons with curvy female shapes.  But the fact of the matter is that culture is not the only divide between client and provider staff.

So much of the disconnect between the client and the provider team is due to a generation divide. When 40 or 50 year olds directlylmanage 20-somethings who think careers are fungible, who have no idea about ‘paying it forward’ and little loyalty to an employer, issues naturally crop up. It’s the workplace version of communication between Mars and Venus. It’s not obvious in the Western workplace; we still accomodate 3 or 4 work generations in our companies. And the staging of ages buffers some of the problems which occur when Baby Boomers rub up against Millenials. But it’s not the case when work is outsourced offshore.

Perhaps you’ve run into a provider–or been a client for that matter–who understands the seriousness of the divide, and its implications for a good sourcing relationship. I haven’t–all I’ve experienced is cultural training that fronts the first few days of provider staff client induction, or a crash culture course for the retained client team. Why can’t client and provider include generational training in transition planning? Or even acknowledge the challenges in relationship building?

This is not to say outsourcing is not the right business model; what we need to acknowledge are its challenges. And the generation gap is great. To better understand the gap, go to http://sourcingchange-backup:8888/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/imperfect-arbitrage.pdf