While there is increasing recognition of the business case for culturally inclusive work settings, there is a critical lack of understanding about what it is and how to achieve it. First, let’s begin on ‘what’ of the topic.
What is Cultural intelligence or cultural quotient (CQ)?
An individual can work in a multi-cultural setting. The multi-cultural setting isn’t just about different ethnicity or nationality, sometimes it can be just young and older colleagues working together, different attitudes or beliefs, etc. There can be various clashes among employees based on culture.
It is the ability to thrive in such multiple cultures. In other words, if a person high on CQ is dropped in an environment that is entirely different from him/her, s/he will be able to form relationships and deliver good results even without speaking a word of their language.
It is measured on a scale much similar to that of intelligence quotient. In reality, cultural quotient has been founded from the well-known notions of intelligence quotient (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ). A good leader needs all of them to work efficiently. People with high CQ does not mean that they are experts in every culture, they can simply adjust to a new one, stay confident, and make it work.
Components of CQ
A famous Harvard Business review article postulated three components of cultural intelligence which are as follow-
This is about understanding and accepting that there is a need for good cultural intelligence.
This is the stage where the understanding of having a good CQ is transformed into actions that are seen in an individual’s personality.
Not scared to make honest mistakes and confident enough to be culturally diverse and kill them.
People with high CQ or aiming to have it should keep these pointers in the back of their minds to succeed.
We are living in a country like India which is a vibrant multi-cultural one. Today’s workplace is growing more and more culturally diverse and it’s perfectly normal to work with people with different backgrounds and cultures. This has opened many new opportunities and also created a need for training on cultural intelligence.
Training is important because it sends a message of inclusiveness and sensitivity in one’s heart. It emphasizes the practice of diversity and the effectiveness of interactions which can be without words, just heart to heart. When one interacts with someone who is from a different cultural background, s/he learns some good norms from other’s cultures and most importantly learns to respect diversity and their boundaries.
Mostly, training is delivered through outdated techniques. A Trainer lecturing with few references from a PowerPoint presentation won’t make a big difference. In other words, slideshow learning or ‘stand and deliver’ technique won’t work. Today, there are several videos and online courses available to improve your CQ.
How Can I Make Training Better?
1. Move it out of the room
Are you training on such a practical topic while sitting in a room? Get up and be pragmatic. Throw real-life situations where the employees have to deal with it. This way the trainees would learn fast and it will be interesting and fun.
2. Break the content
Chunk the content into small pieces known as micro-learning, offering the learners to learn at their comfort and pace. Give them the advantage of revisiting the material whenever they wish to.
With the growing and emerging markets, businesses are forced to make their product adaptable to different cultures, locally and internationally both, known as Globalization. To do this, training on cultural intelligence becomes necessary. Let’s take another example of McDonald’s.
It is operating in 120 countries serving 68 million customers each day. Now if you will look at them closely, they have adapted themselves culturally and that is the reason behind their success. They have menus based on the geographical location and the culture of that specific country like they have an extensive vegetarian menu for India.
Four practical aspects of CQ
Dr. David Livermore highlights four practical aspects of CQ. He believes that one should develop all the below mentioned to boost his/her Cultural Intelligence-
1. CQ Drive
The drive is the motivation of an individual to function well in a diverse culture.
Here are a few tips to increase your CQ drive:
- Learn a foreign language, whichever you like.
- Volunteer for projects which offer you opportunities for meeting new people of different cultures.
2. CQ Knowledge
Simply knowing the similarities and differences of cultures existing across the world in all aspects i.e. Business, interpersonal, Socio-linguistics, etc.
3. CQ Strategy
When you get culturally aware, you make up your mind and form opinions based on your research.
Few ways to initiate it-
- Question your assumptions, don’t just think that what you are hearing is correct.
- Keep updated on the new insights being offered by media.
- Write down everything. From what you like to what you dislike, keep a diary with you for future references.
4. CQ Action
The last element of cultural intelligence is as the name suggests Action. It is the way you behave in different situations or when things don’t go planned. It includes being sensitive and positive in both verbal and non-verbal ways.
How can you boost your cultural intelligence?
1. Stay curious
If you aren’t curious or interested in learning about the cultures of different people, you will never be able to increase your cultural intelligence.
2. Be Aware
Look for differences and similarities. Stay updated and keep a close eye on every little detail.
3. Stay Clear
Keep your mind clear. This also means staying away from your judgments. Whenever you start getting judgemental, stop, and mold your thoughts that very moment. Don’t stereotype.
4. Everyone is Unique
The most important thing is to remember that everyone is unique in their cultural backgrounds, their clothing style, their language, their attitudes, etc. The sooner this fact is accepted that everyone is different, the sooner you will be able to embrace the culture and be culturally intelligent.
You can break or make your business by bridging this cultural gap. Training is very essential in the workplace so that create productive relationships, maximize the teamwork and communication, use the differences to create innovative ideas, and go international.
To everyone out there, keep learning and be inclusive!