2020 Skills: Cross-Cultural Competency

In this post in a series on 2020 Skills, we take a look at culture. 

Here is a handy index for accessing all posts in this series:

  1. Sense-Making
  2. Social Intelligence
  3. The T-shaped Professional
  4. Virtual Collaboration
  5. Computational Thinking
  6. New-Media Literacy
  7. Novel and Adaptive Thinking
  8. Cross-Cultural Competency

We recently had a conversation with the co-founder of a successful fintech startup in Austin, Texas. Like many other startups, he manages his business exclusively with the help of remote teams around the globe.

We asked him, how is this possible?

As smart machines, global connectivity, and super structured organizations among other drivers are reshaping our thinking about work, he reiterated this theme we’ve been exploring that skills need to adapt to this new future.

The final skill we’ll be exploring from the Future Work Skills 2020 report we’ve been profiling is that of cross-cultural competence – the ability to operate effectively in a different cultural setting.

This skill was pointed to during our conversation in Austin as the single most important skill to the success of that start-up.

But the real question is what exactly makes up cross-cultural competence and what combination of attitude, knowledge, and skills makes someone cross-culturally competent?

Louise Rasmussen and Winston Sieck also faced the same question. They conducted extensive research and identified several core aspects of cross-cultural competence. According to them, the following should be considered as guiding principles that can help you to become cross-culturally competent:

  • Staying focused on your goals
  • Understanding culture from a self-perspective
  • Managing attitude and the way you react to other cultures
  • Directing learning of the culture: for instance, how others behave
  • Developing reliable information sources: building relationships
  • Learning about the new culture efficiently: using those relationships
  • Coping with cultural surprises: if something is unexpected
  • Formulating cultural explanations of behavior: to develop deeper understandings
  • Planning cross-cultural communication: using what you have learned
  • Controlling how to present yourself: finding the most appropriate response
  • Reflecting and seeking feedback: continuing to improve yourself

The co-founder we spoke with knew the importance of cross-cultural competence, so he researched it, however, what about inter-department communication? His team also needed training on cross-cultural competence, so he decided to get all of his employees trained.

In this age of super structured organizations and the globally connected world, business leaders face a challenge in communicating their message across the organization. Traditional in-house training sessions may not offer any value as employees are often based in remote locations.

Video-based cultural diversity training turned out to be a better option to train employees and to get them ready to face the challenges of the current business environment.

Why does Video-based Cultural Diversity training matter?

Video-based training is already being praised by organizations around the globe as the popular medium for organizational training. Most simply, video-based cultural diversity training can impart knowledge to employees based in dispersed locations. In addition, video-based training triggers memory retention, by prompting employees to relate the message to their life or their work environment.

Our friend in Austin is happy as his team is producing excellent results. The training really helped his team to improve communication internally. This translated to effective transmission of the message and an increase in the overall performance.

The question is, are you ready? Is your team equipped with the right cross-cultural competency skills? If not, contact us to see how we can help.

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