Empathy is the fundamental quality of those who possess an in-depth appreciation of culture. When working in a decentralised team, it is indispensable to consider the perspectives of others in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation.
Usually, teams are created with shared qualities and characteristics in mind. Collaborating with a colleague who shares a passion for innovation, creativity and independence can be highly advantageous.
However, complete ideological uniformity can result in a state of impasse at best.
Despite the growing recognition of the significance of diverse teams, Dr David Livermore, a prominent expert on the subject, warns that having a variety of individuals without a defined objective can be precarious. In reality, studies have indicated that because of the potential for interpersonal conflicts, diverse groups often underperform in comparison to more homogeneous teams.
In order to optimise the value of its collective knowledge, your remote team requires Cultural Intelligence (CI).
The Significance of Cultural Competence for Remote Teams
Being aware of different cultures is merely the beginning when it comes to possessing cultural intelligence. It is critical to acknowledge that individuals may differ based on factors such as gender, skin colour, religion, sexual orientation or even political beliefs.
With the upcoming elections, it is probable that political debates will occur among coworkers in the workplace. Depending on the opinions shared, some team members may feel disregarded or isolated.
Learning how to navigate and leverage these differences without creating a divide is essential.
Research has indicated that teams comprising a diverse range of individuals in terms of nationalities, ethnicities, roles and beliefs, as well as possessing a strong cultural ethos, are more likely to generate innovative solutions to problems.
According to a recent study carried out by McKinsey, companies with a more diverse workforce are 35% more likely to generate financial returns that surpass the national sector median. This indicates the importance of having a team composed of individuals from a variety of backgrounds.
Applying the Four CQ Abilities to Remote Teams
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) document “Cultural Intelligence: The Essential Intelligence for the 21st Century” (PDF) describes the four subskills that constitute the Culture Quotient (CQ). These subskills are vital for effective operation in the present era.
The CQ Drive
Cultural Intelligence arises from an individual’s ability and enthusiasm to engage and cooperate with people who possess different values and perspectives. This is measured by evaluating an individual’s readiness and competence to work alongside those from varied backgrounds.
For an individual who harbours a deep-seated resistance towards diverse cultures, implementing workplace policies alone will not be enough to foster genuine collaboration.
Believing that a diverse team can only result in conflict and reduced productivity is unfounded.
The CQ Drive is made up of three components, which are:
- When hiring new team members, it is crucial to seek out individuals who display an innate curiosity towards learning about various cultures and perspectives simply for the sake of acquiring knowledge. It is equally vital for these individuals to possess a genuine enthusiasm for the company’s culture.
- Being aware of the cultural customs of remote team members can be extremely advantageous, and the benefits of possessing cross-cultural competence are apparent in many tangible ways. Hence, individuals who are particularly observant of their colleagues’ cultural traditions may have a significant edge over those who are not.
- An individual’s self-efficacy reflects their level of comfort with contributing to a team that comprises people from diverse ethnicities.
CQ Drive is of immense value during the recruitment process.
Cultural Intelligence (CQ) comprises of two aspects: CQ Knowledge and CQ Skills. CQ Knowledge involves comprehending global cultural differences and their impact on the workplace. It involves being mindful of diverse cultural values, norms, and expectations, and comprehending their impact on communication and cooperation with colleagues from varying backgrounds. This knowledge can be gained through research and learning from others.
CQ Knowledge comprises of two components:
- A comprehensive grasp of cultural practices from a bird’s eye view, so to speak.
- Having a comprehension of the specific context is crucial to succeed in a particular market. For instance, if your IT company operates in Latin America or hires local staff, it is imperative that the entire team is acquainted with the cultural customs and values of the region. This involves understanding the typical modes of communication, production, and thinking patterns that are specific to that culture.
North Americans tend to hold a Universalist approach towards adhering to the law, believing that everyone should be held to an equal standard. On the other hand, individuals from Latin America generally possess a Particularist perspective, favouring rules that are situation-dependent and based on relationships between people. However, it should not be assumed that these disparities represent a valid generalisation about entire societies.
The most extensively debated component of Cultural Intelligence (CI) is Cultural Intelligence Knowledge (CQ Knowledge). This proposition proposes that both managers and employees should broaden their understanding of the world beyond their immediate surroundings. Though it is too late to alter this now, research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) emphasises the importance of integrating CQ Knowledge with the other three abilities to improve an organisation’s Cultural Intelligence.
An individual with a high metacognitive ability in Cultural Intelligence (CQ) can anticipate potential hurdles and challenges, monitor their interactions, and modify their behaviour accordingly. This is a crucial strength of those who possess an advanced CQ Strategy.
CQ Strategy encompasses the following three components:
- Being well-prepared for situations where cultural diversity is a factor is vital. It involves being attentive to the possibility of cultural disparities and taking appropriate steps to ensure that any potential new team members are thoroughly researched, and their backgrounds are adequately understood.
- Awareness of both one’s own thoughts and those of the other individual involved in an intercultural exchange is crucial. For instance, they should comprehend how to contribute significantly during their initial team meeting.
- Interaction-based monitoring includes taking notes and enhancing one’s knowledge of cultural customs. By observing their conduct in meetings, one can gain valuable insights into how to collaborate effectively with a new colleague.
CQ Strategy links the awareness of cultural differences to leveraging them to one’s advantage.
Cultural Intelligence in Action
Being aware of the diverse cultural norms and behaving in a manner that is appropriate and respectful is crucial. It is also vital to recognise when it is unnecessary to adapt to cultural differences. This is what I describe as ‘Cultural Intelligence in action’.
CQ Action comprises of the following three components:
- Intercultural communication is based on speech acts or the application of culturally-specific language to express understanding.
- Modifications in the pitch, volume, and pace of speech can be utilized to express emotions.
- Nonverbal communication includes gestures such as using facial expressions, body language, and avoiding eye contact.
Critical thinking in action entails attempting novel ways of interaction and evaluating their efficacy.
Discover how to evaluate and enhance the cultural competence of your distributed workforce.
Cultural Intelligence Evaluation
The findings of the Cultural Intelligence assessment can illuminate the shortcomings in your employees’ cross-cultural competence, thus enabling you to undertake remedial measures.
Composite Cultural Quotient (CQ) is a commonly implemented metric in many evaluations. Multicultural Personality Questionnaire (MPQ), Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), Implicit Association Test (IAT), Intercultural Adjustment Potential Scale (ICAPS), and Cultural Intelligence Scale (CIS) are a few illustrations of multi-source assessments (360-degree feedback) that investigate an individual’s Cultural Intelligence.
However, to select the appropriate evaluation, you must first have a distinct notion of what you want to measure.
One of the evaluations, the Modifiable Personality Questionnaire (MPQ), is carried out to gain insight into a person’s unchanging convictions, which can be very useful in comprehending their team interaction skills. As a result, awareness of such beliefs is critical since they may have a notable impact on a team’s coherence and productivity.
Application of Cultural Intelligence Quotient
The quality of the work produced is significantly influenced by factors such as team configuration, task delegation, customer demands, and geographical aspects. Individual coaching is the most efficacious method of instructing employees on how to enhance their output standard.
Nevertheless, there are attributes and behaviours that can be cultivated to promote Cultural Intelligence in your distributed teams. These include:
- Facilitating candid conversations at all times.
- Enhancing team confidence.
- Cultivating versatility in work approach, issue resolution, and collaboration.
- Permitting employees to independently determine ways to accomplish their assignments.
- Promoting a culture that esteems diversity and inclusivity.
- Unearthing common experiences can promote bonding among team members.
- Abandoning the preoccupation with being right and focusing on caring for others.
- Prohibiting your dispersed teams from making any form of judgement.
- Delving into the cultural subtleties that could impact your company’s prosperity.
- Incorporating Cultural Intelligence training within the onboarding procedure and upholding a rigorous assessment and enhancement standard.
- Consider incentivising positive conduct to enhance CI.
At Works, we comprehend that fruitful cultural education, awareness of diverse viewpoints, and cooperation across ideological barriers necessitates dedication from all parties involved. That’s why we aim to identify competent individuals who can assist in making this transition painless. If you’d like to know more, kindly contact us via email. We eagerly anticipate hearing from you.