Cultures vary between being very tasks oriented or relationships oriented. This is the doing – being continuum.

Doing cultures focus on achievements, tasks to accomplish, plans, deadlines. Things should be measurable by external standards. The language used by people in these cultures reflect this task orientation, emphasising what you do, actions and so on. Job performance is regularly reviewed and people are assessed on what they achieve or not. People are usually motivated by clear objectives and material rewards.

In contrast, being cultures value more the person than their achievements in themselves. They place more emphasis on the relationships between people than on the tasks that each person has to complete. Success is defined by quality of life, job satisfaction, growth and development rather than by what is accomplished. Language is less direct, less focused on explanations, clear objectives and guidance. Language is primarily used to build relationships, not to get things done. Motivating rewards are usually nonmaterial, such as interesting, satisfying and meaningful job or personal development opportunities.

I guess you can easily see what situations it could lead to when people from opposite sides of the continuum interact with each other. If somebody from a doing culture goes on about the success of achieving a task, gives instructions and rely on the motivation of the achievement itself, it may not cut much to have the task done with people from a being culture.

Conversely, somebody from a being culture may lose people from a doing culture if they are not given clear guidance and their achievements are not recognised.

What is going to be important here to perform as well as you can with people from different sides of the doing-being continuum? First, it will be to understand where you stand. This is because it is the behaviour you will fall back on if you are not aware. Second, be clear about what motivates other people. If not clear, ask them. That will tell where they are on the continuum. Thirdly, try to be about in the middle of the continuum, giving importance to both the person and their achievements. If you recognise and acknowledge both, you are less likely to go wrong.

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