Tag Archives: Cross Culture

Cultural Intelligence – Drive

I would like to delve further into the four components of  Cultural Intelligence (CQ) over the next few blog posts.  This post will focus on Drive.

Drive is one of the key components to CQ.  It is your interest, motivation and confidence to adapt to a multicultural situation. It consists of intrinsic and extrinsic interests and the drive to learn and understand different cultures, their norms and behaviours.

The intrinsic and extrinsic motivators are culturally determined.  Extrinsic rewards are usually financial, such as salaries, bonuses and benefits.  Intrinsic rewards are psychological rewards that individuals reap from engaging in meaningful work with a healthy balance of choice, competency, challenge and success.

CQ

As an individual you need to establish and maintain your own CQ drive and as a leader you also need to instill and support the motivation of your employees.  Remember that your intrinsic and extrinsic motivators may be vastly different to those of your peers and employees so it is important to have a range of strategies in place.

Strategies for Improving CQ Drive for self:

  • Take some unconscious bias tests, seek feedback
  • Be prepared to make mistakes, learn from them and then move on
  • Identify your passions, what they are and why do you care about them?
  • Reflect on what guides and influences your behaviours and attitudes toward culturally diverse groups
  • Welcome opportunities to mentor others as a ‘cultural broker.’

Strategies for Improving CQ Drive for others:

  • Understand your own motivations, it will assist you when you are influencing and motivating others
  • Provide an exciting and clear vision of what can be accomplished i.e. share success stories and celebrate milestones
  • Ensure that the relevance between task and purpose is transparent.  Help people to make clear connections between the vision and the work
  • Reinforce confidence in the self-management of individuals.  Intrinsic motivation improves when people feel trusted and their expertise and skills are recognised and appreciated
  • Share customer feedback and interactions with individuals and the wider team.  Not only does this promote purpose and goals, it also reinforces the successes and highlights areas for improvement.

Reflections:

  • Take a moment to consider what you find most challenging when you are in culturally diverse settings
  • Consider some of your CQ drivers and those that you have observed in others
  • How do you think improving your CQ drive could assist both yours and your teams overall level of CQ?
You may like to listen to my ‘CQ Drive’ Podcast in ‘CQ for Global Leaders‘ by clicking here.

Smashing through the bamboo ceiling

Bamboo ceiling

Procurious, is a unique online business networking site specifically designed for procurement and supply chain professionals.

Dr Verghese was interviewed in ‘Smashing through the bamboo ceiling’ to discuss the processes and barriers that serve to exclude Asians or people of Asian descent from executive positions in Western-run organisations.

A provocative article that features some pragmatic strategies toward shattering the bamboo ceiling.

 

 

Bridging the cultural gap

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Watch Tom speaking at the Australian Human Resource Institute Conference 2015 ‘Bridging the cultural gap’.

Virtual Teleconferences for Global Project Teams

telecon

A recent project has prompted me to focus this month on the efficiencies of teleconferences.  Lack of agendas, side conversations, audible background noises, late attendees, accent and language difficulties; alongside poorly facilitated calls that seem to go in circles are just some of the everyday teleconference challenges.

Although teleconferences are not a new phenomenon somehow we tolerate the inefficiencies and frustrations that they entail.  Why is this?  Over time we become unconscious and unmindful of the bad habits and irritations that ‘creep in’.  We often accept them as ‘normal’ and for the most part we ‘switch off’ and allow apathy and stagnation to set in, without us possibly even realising it.

For many global project teams teleconferences are the most common meeting format.  They are a critical mode of communication where key decisions are made and everyday production, innovative and creative ideas are thrashed out. Something worth reminding ourselves of is that the success of teleconferences directly impact overall project outcomes, timelines and ultimately budgets.

Here are some simple reminders of things to be aware of when facilitating and participating in culturally dispersed teleconferences:

  • Ensure that the agenda has been circulated at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. It is particularly useful for those in other locations whose native language is not the language that the meeting is being conducted in.  This provides all participants an opportunity to plan what they will say or questions that they want to propose.
  • Be mindful. When most of the participants are in the same room it can be difficult for the remote participants to engage in the conversation.  They are not privy to the same group/room dynamic.
  • Remember that in some cultures people wait to be invited to speak rather than speak up whenever they have something to contribute. Be specific and invite people to speak at various intervals.
  • Ensure everyone identifies who they are before they begin speaking. Don’t assume that everyone knows each other.  It is not uncommon for offshore project teams to have new staff joining the team at different times. Maintain the practice of introductions at all meetings.
  • Use diagrams and visual aids where possible.  They can be of great benefit as an alternative mode of demonstration and explanation, especially for offshore teams.
  • If you are having difficulty understanding language, accents, dialects or tone, speak up. Let people know.  Chances are that they are having difficulty understanding you also.
  • Don’t confuse silence with agreement.  Take the time to ask each person one by one to give their opinion or share their concerns before making a consensus decision.

Meeting the Challenges of Cultural Diversity

Last week I was a panelist for the discussion “Building Cultural Capability Networks” to further explore findings from Cracking the Cultural Ceiling: Future Proofing Your Business in the Asian Century research. The Diversity Council of Australia surveyed over 300 leaders and emerging leaders from Asian cultural backgrounds working in Australia.

One of the challenges that I came away with was a longstanding challenge – how do we get organisations to pay greater attention to cultural diversity in Australia?   There are many compelling reasons to support greater diversity within our organisations, and yet while our diverse workforce continues to expand, we continue to inadequately support it.

Although countries such as Australia (and many other countries around the world) are highly multicultural societies, I believe that part of the cultural diversity apathy that exists in the Australian workplace is in part due to a lack of awareness, education and biases.

Some of the breakthroughs that I believe are needed to overcome these persistent institutional cultural barriers are:

  • Organisations need to review, educate and revise their current practices, strategies and objectives in terms of employee hiring, promotion, mentoring and leadership models; including succession planning to promote cultural diversity.
  • Double sponsorship should be promoted. Companies such as IKEA have a sponsorship/mentorship program that requires two people to be responsible for hiring decisions and sharing the development responsibilities for that individual.
  • Leaders and recruitment staff need greater education around unconscious and conscious cultural biases and the complexities of cultural identity i.e. alternative leadership models and communication styles. They need greater awareness of their own biases and should be made more accountable for their decisions and actions.
  • Improved understanding and appreciation of the value that cultural diversity brings to organisations and the ‘know how’ and skills to actually leverage these differences.
  • Senior Leaders must demonstrate their commitments to cultural diversity programs by truly getting behind them by modelling them through their actions and behaviours.

I urge you to read the Cracking the Cultural Ceiling: Future Proofing Your Business in the Asian Century.

Diversity and Inclusion From an Asian Perspective

DIAN

Earlier this year I contributed to and reviewed a research paper – Examining Diversity & Inclusion From an Asian Perspective. The study was conducted by Community Business, a Hong Kong based organisation. The countries included in this study were Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Japan and China.

A previous study was a precursor to this paper. One of the findings was that diversity and inclusion in Asia are often considered western concepts that are sometimes at odds with local cultural norms and have little local relevance in the Asian context.

The purpose of this study was to:

  • Explore how relevant the concepts of diversity and inclusion are in Asia;
  • Uncover key diversity and inclusion dynamics at play in the different Asian markets;
  • Provide some recommendations for organisations to adapt their diversity and inclusion approaches that resonate locally.

This a very insightful paper that contains some really strong data and recommendations to support companies in their D & I strategies and approaches within the Asian context.

There were many interesting discussions in this paper, particularly the question “Is D & I a western construct.” The findings were that the majority of respondents agreed that it is a western concept – China (58%), Hong Kong (55%), Japan (61%) and Singapore (61%), India being the least at (21%). Interestingly, the Chinese and Japanese languages have no indigenous words for ‘diversity’ or ‘inclusion’, therefore the loosely translated words can be difficult for people to relate to. As each country is considered in their own context, the findings are an accurate display of the key D & I dynamics within each particular country included in this study.

Improved awareness of unconscious bias, greater transparency and continuous auditing of management processes, greater understanding of the importance of face, hierarchy and harmony; and addressing the assumption that proficiency in English equates to professional expertise are just some of the dynamics that this paper identifies.

The paper highlights the need for organisations to rethink their current D & I strategies, and the value of facilitating discussions with key stakeholders on the ground. Organisations must invest resources to support engagement with these key stakeholders in a bid to gain accurate understandings of the most pertinent issues at local levels. Only through this exposure can these issues be addressed in a culturally appropriate methodology.

Click here if you would like further information on this paper.

Communication Technology and Culture

comm

How does culture impact the effectiveness of communication platforms and apps?

One our Cultural Synergies staff members shared with me a recent article in BRW that reviewed a new app called BLRT. Her interest was piqued since it is an app that has been created with one of the key design requirements being the ability to convey messages, verbally and visually, just as you would in person but without the need to be in the same time zone or location. The app captures voice and gestures and is specifically designed for communicating across different time zones and improving collaboration. As she was describing the app I began to think about how innovative we continue to be in terms of designing and creating new ways of working and communicating across cultures, and also some of the traps that it can inadvertently lead to.

While apps and telecommunication software such as BLRT, Skype, Face Time etc. are all welcome additions to our lives and useful tools for communicating with each other; arguably they still don’t necessarily help us to improve our culturally intelligence. In fact there is the possibility that sometimes they could lead us toward a false sense of our true cultural understandings and knowledge. Accessibility to these platforms is cheap, easy to use and allows us to have cross border conversations at anytime.  Here is my point – even with our constantly evolving telecommunication options, the chances of cultural misunderstandings i.e. missing subtle cues, such as the reason for a seemingly one-way conversation, body language, how our messages were really understood etc continues to persist. While there are clear benefits to working and communicating with these constantly evolving and improved forms of technology, I contend that it doesn’t necessarily translate that we are becoming more culturally aware.

Some useful factors to keep in mind when you are communicating via these technologies are:

  • Be conscious of the speed at which you are speaking. Voice modulation, pronunciation, accents, use of colloquial language etc. all influence how your messages are being received
  • Pay attention to the quieter participants and invite them to speak
  • Summarise what is being said regularly
  • Demonstrate your understandings by paraphrasing the important points to ensure that you have understood the message
  • Spend some time making ‘small talk’. This is invaluable for really getting to know and understand others and in building trust and improving relationships
  • Pay attention to body language, it will help you to understand what is not being said
  • Spend a moment after your conversations and reflect on the success or difficulties that you encountered and seek to understand why they may have occurred and learn from them.

As working across time zones continues to increase we need to regularly remind ourselves that culture will always be a feature that needs to be given the appropriate attention that it demands – this will never change.