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The Importance of Cultural Competence

For a number of reasons, many companies have found themselves in positions  where having many more remote employees working abroad is advantageous. As a result, they are developing policies that take into account new and unique factors, including compliance and tax regulations.

If your company allows global nomads, are you offering a cross-cultural training tool?  Even for employees who work abroad remotely, understanding a new culture is extremely important.  Supporting the global nomad’s development of cultural competencies will only increase their value to the company and the bottom line.

Cultural competence is a journey that takes a concerted effort to achieve.  The good news is that it can be developed.  The trick is to nurture a set of skills that grows and expands over time.

Here are 7 ideas to get started:

  1. Understand personal cultural work style: Everyone sees the world in a certain way because of culture, personal history, and background. A cultural profile questionnaire can provide insight into an individual’s work style.
  2. Focus on learning a little: Even knowing a little about the host country can prove invaluable. Focus on those aspects that are important to getting the job done.
  3. Seek opportunities to learn: Even though the employee is working remotely, there are opportunities every day to learn about the culture. For instance, food shopping is a great learning experience and can be added to their repertoire of cultural awareness.
  4. Note unexpected behavior: This can offer clues as to why the culture behaves in a way different from the home country. Figure out why and add to your toolbox of understanding.
  5. Connect with locals: Test the ideas learned about the culture by asking a native. Your assumptions may be incorrect, and many locals are happy to share their culture.
  6. Think about daily experiences: Review situations that may have felt uncomfortable and try to understand why.
  7. Be genuine: Seek to understand a new culture by being free from pretense and show sincere appreciation and curiosity.

Having strategies for learning about other cultures will reduce uncertainty, improve interactions, and help your employees adapt to any new culture. Providing globally mobile employees with learning tools to build their cultural competence will be a real benefit to both the employee and their company.