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The Assessment You Need for Your Cross-Cultural Team

Updated: May 5, 2023

Part 2 of 3 Series

Again, comprehensive assessments can be useful tools! “Getting to the bottom of” your team, learning together what sort of strengths and focus areas might be influencing a team's performance both relationally and transactionally—these can be highly valuable exercises. But as useful as comprehensive assessments can be, they will inevitably cause challenges in intercultural contexts.

Inter-Cultural Intelligence and an understanding of the Three Colors of Worldview can be of great benefit when determining whether and which assessments would be most beneficial for your intercultural team.

In Part 1 of this short series on the use of comprehensive assessments when it comes to intercultural settings, we mentioned that it is, of course, wise to weigh the pro's and con's of comprehensive assessments before introducing them to your team—and there are both benefits and drawbacks. It is certainly noble to want to learn your team’s affinities and proclivities, find out who they are, what sort of strengths and focus areas might constitute them, how understanding that information about themselves might help them in personal development and in teaming together on various tasks.

But when the assessment is comprehensive AND when the context is intercultural—the answer is actually a resounding “Not so much!” Not all assessments are alike, and some might be better than others at measuring one or two aspects with decent accuracy and usefulness.

Bad idea.

When it comes to comprehensive assessments, however—i.e., covering multiple categories and exploring various aptitudes or interactive facets in one test or grouping of tests, KnowledgeWorkx would strongly advise against using them with intercultural teams. The truth is, as helpful as comprehensive assessments might be generally, they will inevitably cause challenges when used interculturally. Introducing your intercultural team to certain assessments, particularly comprehensive assessments, could potentially mean taking several steps backward rather than forward.

As already mentioned, language differences and different values held by different cultures affect both the practical assessment-taking process and the results. “Test anxiety” is a real thing that many learners worldwide would experience under normal testing circumstances. And everyone’s ideas of what comprise “normal circumstances” differ across cultures. Intercultural differences profoundly complicate and compound already-existing hurdles for teams taking assessments.

It’s complicated.

The human mind can handle only “X” number of constructs—we just have a limited ability to unpack them, to make them our own—especially if processing these constructs includes personal re-evaluation and feedback, and then converting that evaluation and feedback into a learning element.

It’s hard enough with one construct—say, a personality assessment. Processing just that single piece can become challenging in a multicultural context. Now consider a comprehensive assessment where you typically have multiple constructs—like a personality piece, plus a behavioral style piece, plus leadership, plus conflict and resolution, plus teaming, project management, how information is to be handled, ad infinitum. So it is simply an unrealistic expectation for a team of individuals from vastly-different cultural paradigms to perform optimally, or consistently, for the entire duration of a comprehensive assessment -- especially given how long these assessments typically last. To tackle all those constructs and overcome educational differences, encounter language barriers, and experience assessment fatigue and test anxiety — all of which are complicated further by intercultural differences — and all in one go? That is incredibly difficult, if it is even feasible at all.

All the best-laid plans…

It follows that it would be equally unreasonable to expect that the results garnered from a comprehensive assessment administered in an intercultural setting would be truly representative, accurate reflections of the competencies and aptitudes and personalities of those individuals who took the assessment.

Whatever the comprehensive assessment was designed to discover, the findings will have been compromised. The results of a comprehensive assessment in an intercultural context are just not going to be as conclusive or reliable as the results would’ve been in a mono-cultural scenario.

As we continue this brief series, we will return to the differences in educational priorities among cultures, particularly in light of the Three Colors of Worldview.

How do I find out my own Colors of Worldview?

KnowledgeWorkx has published several articles exploring all three of the Colors of Worldview in-depth. For example, for those who want to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the Innocence-Guilt cultural paradigm, read this article about applying the Innocence-Guilt paradigm. In fact, if you would like to learn about your own color(s), check out this opportunity to discover your own Three Colors of Worldview profile, and get a personalized report:


This series : Part 1 Part 2 Part 3


Quickly becoming the global preferred choice for Inter-Cultural Intelligence development, KnowledgeWorkx promotes mutual understanding of other cultures and perspectives in the workplace, and helps teams to develop the intercultural capacity necessary to thrive in a globalized world.

Click here for ICI Certification Workshop dates.



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