Saturday, 19 December 2009

Are Cultural issues killing your Business ??? - Part 2

We discussed in yesterdays post What Are some of the Cultural Issues that can kill your Teams today we speak about how to be prepared to handle these issues.. A lot of time we are unaware of cultural issues others we ignore them.. in spite of having global teams and knowing the global impact we intend to intentionally or unintentionally ignore or avoid handling this issue.. A Cultural Quotient in Managers can definitely help this cause.. Now how to build this cultural quotient... and what is this cultural quotient?

What is Cultural Quotient?
Awareness of cultural differences, not by theory but by experience in working into different cultures is what is a unit of cultural quotient. Knowing what are the differences and barriers in different cultures is the CQ. We cannot just build it or buy it.. We cannot just train our people and get it implemented.. I am sure if we would then again we would not have any issues.. and businesses running without visible issues are no more businesses.

CQ can be built in different people but with time and enough training , exposure and above all awareness. Long back when BPO/Call centers were a big hype in India.. all Business Processes from various parts of the world were outsourced to India.. and to make it effective Language and Accent trainers were introduced to the calling agents.. people on calls from India got American names, they were trained with American accents and so on.. did it help? for a while it did.. but the mass was involved attrition, switching roles and jobs couldn't let companies handle this training as they should have... Then came in house training division and tests.. people were trained by companies own people , had to run through tests before they got into projects... yet.. did the accents and utilization of language change? Not really.. see below :

You may still hear on phones words like "Arey" , "na?" , "listen na" blah blah... Conclusion is just training is not helping.. there is something beyond that....

How to help us build it?

How to handle a cultural awareness is by way of :

1. Introduce people to cultures ...
2. Have them stay over the different locations for short , mid and long term
3. Train a bunch of them there and then let them go back and train the rest.
4. Imbibe cultural events to let them know the importance of various cultures... so Easter or Diwali or Hanukkah is just not a holiday but more.. or Presidents Day or Revolution Day or Republic day is beyond a day off at work.
5. Always ensure cross cultured people mingle
6. Get together of families when in different culture can give a good insight.. specially when you are invited for a Dinner for instance...

There are many other ways.. but remember, you cannot just get 50 people in a training room , teach them what people do in different nations and regions and build a CQ for them. Steps would be for individuals and Managers to list down:
1. Top few cultural elements of different cultures there Teams are based in
2. Start events that expose cultures , smaller ones that can involve smaller groups and let the word spread through.
3. Have shared collaborations places, blogs and intranet portals list down the celebrations..
4. if you are on a farther side make sure you do enough research before you get involved.
5. As managers its your job to allocate time to such events that can help build a proximity.

From a Professional Standpoint:
1. Make sure there are clearer roles defined for each of the member of cross cultural Teams
2. Ensure that the Objectives are set well
3. Success and Failure criteria are defined
4. Encourage involvement in decision making
5. Encourage co-ordination , Ideas sharing and other things that can help Teams build more confidence.
6. Introduce cross tasks so that such people can interact and know each other
7. let the blame game never come into picture, because that is something that can kill.

What else? How do we bring Cultural Difference to Normality , so that we can surpass the productivity levels?