In Part 1 of our discussion on cultural intelligence, we explored how CQ helps leaders and employees in a global business environment. Since anyone’s CQ can be enhanced and improved, organizations are bringing cultural intelligence assessments, CQ and cross-cultural training to their business leaders to help them succeed in an ever-expanding, multicultural global business world.
As promised in Part 2, we will look into how CQ principles can help us to effectively maneuver through other cultural situations such as within families and generations.
We appreciate that culture fits in a variety of contexts. Culture is defined as “the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time”. Beliefs and customs can vary dramatically between generations, organizations, ethnicities, families as well as geographies. Let’s explore how cultural intelligence principles can apply in other cultural contexts.
Family: Your In-Laws
Without even being aware of it, you possibly at some level already use this problem-solving tool in a social (cultural) environment familiar to you or similar to your own. Even though the environment may not be considerably different than yours, it still varies and you may need to adjust.
There is a good chance you’ve been invited before to a relative’s or in-law’s house for a dinner or party. Within their home, your hosts have their own lifestyle (i.e., “culture”). So what happens when you go? We imagine a situation similar to this:
First, Before you go, you may be really looking forward to the occasion or dread having to go. This is your Drive.
Secondly, You think forward to the event or you may flash back to your last visit there. Who will be there? Will they serve food or alcohol? What time do they serve dinner? What are the activities and conversations expected when we’re there? The list can go on and on. This is your Knowledge.
Third, After acquiring knowledge, you plan your Strategy on how to behave. Do you know they eat dinner at 9:00 pm and you usually eat at 5:00? Should you eat a little before you go or do you just plan to be hungry until they serve dinner at 9:00?
Lastly, you arrive and if you’re motivated, you put your knowledge and strategy into Action. For example, you know the dinner guests often talk politics or religion and have divergent views than your own. When you’re there, do you actively engage in the lively discussion or do you decide to be an observant bystander?
Cultural Intelligence components can be applied with less effort when the cultural or social differences are small and adjustments need only to occur over a short period of time – like a dinner party. When the four CQ components are applied well, it can mean the difference between a good or bad experience for you, the other guests and your hosts.
Let’s look at a more complex cultural scenario: generations. CQ principles can be applied to generational cultures too. For example, millennials (aka Generation Y) are the generation born between approximately 1980 and 2000, They are soon to be the largest generation ever both in size and in the workforce.The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that millennials will make up approximately 75% of the workforce by 2030.
If you’re an employer, how do you prepare to this new influx of employees who have their own ideas, beliefs and customs? First, you decide that it matters.You’re motivated because you have a business need to understand this generation.
Because you will hire this generation that’s now entering the workforce, let’s take a high-level look at “recruiting” this group. What knowledge should you gain to attract millennial candidates? Knowledge such as Gen Y is very social media and Internet connected. The millennial culture is life- and friend-centered. Millennials also expect career development and approachable managers.
When developing your recruiting strategy, you should consider how millennials find out about jobs (social media) and how they apply (mobile apps). When you’re wooing these candidates, do you have the right employee benefits packages and attractive work schedules and environment? Are your interviewers delivering the messages that resonate with Gen Y-ers?
Finally, if you’re competing for the best, have you put into action the necessary strategies and steps to effectively recruit and attract millennials?
A note of caution: If you work and recruit in countries outside of North America, the traits listed above are attributed to millennials in this geography. Recent research has shown that millennials in other regions and countries have very different expectations and needs. This give us even more reason to further explore and become more knowledgeable in principles of Cultural Intelligence.