With a more diverse and inclusive workforce and a rapidly growing global clientele, the need to work effectively across cultures and backgrounds or Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is a crucial soft skill employers and employees need to develop.
In the workplace, there are various situations in which applying a CQ lens can help to understand different perspectives, build team cohesiveness, reduce implicit bias, drive innovation and work towards a unified corporate culture.
Here are a few situations which would greatly benefit from applying a CQ view:
During meetings, consider the different ways team members offer feedback or opinions. As a team member or manager, one should be mindful of the different styles or approach which are influenced by previous work cultures or social backgrounds. Have an open-door policy, to allow members to provide input in different ways such as in a one-to-one setting.
A flexible approach is very important especially in global offices where employees prefer a less confrontational setting. A Thai employee, for example, may avoid critiquing a more senior member’s proposal as it could cause a “loss of face” for the latter.
Do some research into the workplace culture and management styles of your global clients. Avoid assumptions by asking how they would prefer to handle interactions and build relationships based on mutual benefit.
In your international offices, learn as much as you can about local norms and practices before addressing employees or a local audience. Learning a few phrases in the local language to use in your speech will go a long way in expressing respect and sincerity to your audience. You may also find them far more responsive to your message.
Connect with the individual
While it is important to acknowledge the differing backgrounds of employees, we should always strive to get to know the individual and not the culture. Making assumptions based on one’s language and cultural background risks misunderstanding and breeds distrust. Instead, take the time to get to know your team members as individuals and build strong interpersonal relationships to uncover each’s personal strengths and insight.