Leading Michelin Essay

693 words - 3 pages

Olivier Chalon, the lead manager for a North American division of Michelin, had become an unproductive leader after first arriving to Michelin in 2004. He had already been working for the company in France since 2002 and spoke fluent English. His difficulties in managing and leading in North America come from a dissimilarity in cultures and values that was overlooked by him and his employees.
The first problem was that Chalon, who originally comes from France, has a deep rooted values in business. French business often run like a monarchy, from the top down. The boss-subordinate relationship is very formal, and gives it a strong power distance. (Platt, 2003, p. 205) He was the superior; so he was the monarch and his employees should address him as such. This is different in North America where most employees call their superior by their first name. As Hofstede explains further, Americans have a smaller power distance and superiors consider subordinates to be “people like me.” (1998, p. 46) Proper addressing of people and language is very important to the French people because they hold their language so distinguished in France and it is a symbol of pride that they respect. France's cultural is reflected in the French language in many ways. The French culture is very polite, reserved, and dignified. (Platt, 2003, p. 31) Not quite so in America where the English language is butchered on a daily basis. This discrepancy had to have an effect on Chalon as he endured his subordinates improperly addressing him.
The next issue is that even though Chalon was trying to be familiar with his employees by offering and open door policy and walking around the office chatting with employees yet his employees still felt that Chalon was unsociable and emotionless. This stems from another value that has a big variance in American corporations. In France, supervisors do not make friends or even small talk in the office about their social relations. (Platt, 2003, p. 228) In America it is common for office employees to know...

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