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How can cultural intelligence boost your business?

HR News |  05/04/2017
How can cultural intelligence boost your business?Businesses are increasingly operating in different markets around the world. Globalisation has led to increased collaboration, competition and corporate growth.

Firms are now able to travel abroad to meet potential partners, suppliers and buyers in person in a matter of hours, while online conferencing capabilities have allowed others to communicate and co-operate with companies across the world from their own board rooms.

Cultural intelligence is therefore vital to ensuring that companies get the most out of interactions with counterparts.

Advantages of cultural intelligence

David Livermore, president of the US-based Cultural Intelligence Center and author of a number of books on the subject, has said that a diverse workforce, where employees have developed their cultural intelligence, is a more productive workforce.

This will be due in large part to the fact that culturally intelligent teams can make the most of the different perspectives provided by collaboration and a diverse workforce.

Speaking at Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Diversity Dialogue, he defined cultural intelligence as “effectively interacting and working with people from diverse cultures” and that workers with this trait “can effectively adapt to various multicultural situations”.

Knowing enough about a culture that you’re working with can ameliorate certain stressful situations, by encouraging more communication and helping to aid conflict management and resolution.

How to instil cultural intelligence

Making sure that your workforce is culturally intelligent is vital to ensuring that you can compete on a global scale. According to Mr Livermore, cultural intelligence depends on motivation, drive, strategy and action. You can use these to plan how you can instill the quality in your workforce.

Mr Livermore explained that in order to be motivated, an employee must be interested in cross-cultural differences, and possess the drive to understand them. They must then go about developing a strategy that acknowledges cross-cultural situations and plans how to address these differences.

You can use Mr Livermore’s advice to identify the most motivated individuals in your workforce and encourage them to undertake cultural sensitivity training. Your leadership team should also be educated on how to behave in certain situations when dealing with business associates from different cultures.

Strong organisations will train employees and ensure that cultural intelligence is included in their strategic planning. Use your own experiences to detail successful and unsuccessful interactions and establish what the difference was.

During recruitment

When trying to recruit new staff in a global environment, you have to be aware that culturally diverse candidates will be applying. Even with Brexit on the cards, many businesses will still have to attract applicants from abroad in order to realise their ambitions.

Mr Livermore also said that a diverse team with high cultural intelligence will “outperform homogeneous teams,” which makes it highly valuable for companies to invest in attracting a wide pool of applicants with disparate backgrounds.

It’s vital for companies to ensure that they are advertising their vacancies in the right place. This will help to target the appropriate people. A quality recruitment agency can offer effective screening methods, which will ensure that only top talent with an existing degree of cultural intelligence is being put forward to interview at your business.

Making sure that your workforce is culturally intelligent will contribute significantly towards being prepared to capitalise on the opportunities presented by a global economy.

By Jon Aspinell

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