Cultural Intelligence and HR

CI picEvery one of us understands the importance Cultural Intelligence  to survive and succeed in the increasingly diverse business environment of today. Working with clients, customers, partners and colleagues across culture require a high level of Cultural Intelligence, also known as Cultural Quotient (CQ). Cultural Intelligence is the capacity to work effectively with groups of people from any culture. The confidence and effectiveness with which one interacts in a cross-cultural environment determines his level of Cultural Intelligence.  Not only individuals, but companies also realize the benefits of CQ  in order to manage their diverse workforce.  When your employees come from different cultural settings, it is essential to promote a work environment of good cross culture understanding.

We come across many situations in our daily work life which reveal the struggle employees face in cross culture environment. Some of these are:

–          Someone (unknowingly) making an insensitive remark in a gathering.

–          Inactive participation of employees in conference calls or meetings.

–          Workplace harassment based on religion, race or nationality.

No denying the fact that CQ highly depends on an individual’s interpersonal skills but an organization, HR department in particular, can play a major role in developing CQ among its workforce. Some of the ways HR can help employees develop high CQ are:

Create an atmosphere of awareness about different cultures

HR can best do this task. When you have a cross-cultural workforce, include their festivals and important occasions in your cultural celebration calendar. Design your Employment engagement activities in a way  to invite maximum participation from people across all cultures.

Create policies that respect cultural differences.

Re-examine your employee handbook. Include policies that highlight and respect different cultural practices relevant to your work force. This way you can educate your employees towards each other’s dressing, eating, and religious sentiments.

Provide Cultural Intelligence training

Organize training and seminars on cross-culture social, economic and political patterns. It is an effective way to motivate your employees to understand and adapt different cultures and  helps in their overall professional development.

Analyze CQ while making hiring, transfer or promotion decisions

When a position requires a cross-cultural interaction and travel, it’s beneficial to analyze the Cultural Quotient while hiring or promoting someone for the position.

Cross-cultural communication training

When we work with people from varied cultural backgrounds, it becomes more important to practice appropriate communication and behavioral styles.  Training your employees on these parameters help them to communicate effectively with their peers, clients and other employees.


*Recommended Read – Leading with Cultural Intelligence by David Livermore

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