Improving Cross-Cultural Management Communication in Manufacturing

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Case Study: Cross-Cultural Management Communication - Bridge Intercultural Consulting


A U.S. manufacturing company faced significant challenges in managing and communicating with its foreign employees, primarily from Asia, who had limited English proficiency. Bridge Intercultural’s core objective was to optimize the management process by enhancing the ability of U.S. managers to give clear instructions that were easily understood and followed by non-native English speakers.


The main issue was the communication gap between American managers and Asian employees. The Americans’ fast-paced talking style overwhelmed the employees, causing misunderstandings and incorrect actions because the employees could not fully understand the instructions. This often resulted in American managers becoming frustrated, mistakenly thinking the problem was due to the employees’ lack of attention or compliance rather than recognizing the real issue was a communication barrier.


To address these challenges, the company made several strategic changes to make communication clearer:

  • Simplifying Instructions: Managers started using lists with no more than three tasks to keep directions straightforward and reduce employee confusion. More tasks were given only after the initial ones were completed.
  • Adjusting Speaking Pace: American staff were trained to speak more slowly, giving non-native speakers time to understand and comprehend instructions.
  • Incorporating Pauses: Deliberate pauses were added during conversations and meetings, giving employees time to translate and comprehend instructions.
  • Clarity and Simplicity in Language: Managers were advised to use straightforward language to avoid misunderstandings.


These straightforward yet effective strategies yielded significant improvements:

  • Employees quickly and accurately understood their tasks.
  • Managers saw a drop in miscommunication, leading to less frustration.
  • Communication within the team improved, making workdays more productive and effective.


A few simple changes in communication dramatically enhanced understanding and productivity. By prioritizing clarity and adjusting pacing, the company successfully navigated cultural and linguistic differences, improving both managerial efficiency and employee satisfaction in a diverse workplace.

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