The Rise of Virtual Cultural Awareness

A natural progression of working from home has been more screen time with our global colleagues. We gain many benefits from interacting with cross-cultural virtual teams. Companies taking advantage of talent around the globe form heterogeneous teams with varying perspectives. When managed well, these differences inject creativity and innovation into even the most complex problems.

However, diverse teams are not without challenges. Cultural differences often create barriers to successful communication. Digital environments increase the potential for misunderstandings, especially when interpreting non-verbal communication.

Developing cultural agility helps teams to avoid cultural collisions and misunderstandings. Team members can gauge cognitive, relational, and behavioral differences along the dimensions where cultural gaps are most common, and managers can assess the whole team in those areas.

The attributes of a culturally agile person are:

· Willingness to learn about differences

· Awareness of your individual cultural background & preferences

· Knowledge about the cultures of your colleagues

· Adaptability and ability to style shift

Culturally agile individuals recognize, appreciate, and adapt to situations that are culturally different from their own experiences. This results in clearer communication.

A great place to start developing cultural agility is to invite team members to take a cultural assessment of their individual work style. Our cultural assessment is based on the six Cultural Dimensions identified by Dr. Geert Hofstede.

Cultural Dimensions are …

· A framework for understanding cultural differences.

· An objective means to discussing culture, using non-judgmental language.

· Helpful to quantify differences without defining right or wrong, good or bad.

Once the assessment is complete, the Cultural Profile:

· Measures individual cultural preferences related to the six Dimensions.

· Provides stimulus for reflection, self-exploration, and a lens through which other countries’ cultures may be understood.

· Highlights the central tendency of a country.

· Gives comparisons to a country that are a useful framework for discussing cultural differences and similarities.

· Identifies appropriate business practices for working with the target culture.

Coupled with discussion, the Cultural Profile is a powerful tool to provide both self-knowledge and awareness of specific cultures. Team members can effectively apply their native intelligence with confidence, and develop their ability to resolve business challenges.

To learn more about your own cultural work style and to take the Cultural Questionnaire assessment, please click here and we’ll email you the link.

Written by Cathy Heyne, GMS-T, Managing Director