(An Intercultural Examination)
Part 2 of 2
In our second article, we will unpack the remaining top 10 corporate values: Respect for Employees, Innovation, Ownership of Actions, Excellence, Safety, and Quality.
Read Part 1 of the article here.
Respect for employees
Respect is such a crucial word, but a culturally unintelligent definition of respect can easily lead to disrespectful moments amongst staff.
Unfortunately, there are 1001 ways to show respect across the world. Here are some examples: is it respectful to look somebody in the eyes, or is it respectful to shake somebody's hand? Is it a sign of respect to use titles, or is it the opposite where respect is shown by addressing colleagues as equals?
What about respect for age? Is it considered respectful to promote a younger employee before an older employee with more years of service in the company, or is that not even an issue of respect?
Another challenge related to respect has to do with the sense of equality related to roles and remuneration. Recruiting has gone global and in the global recruiting game some are more equal than others. Reasonable salaries in one context might either be too high or too low in another context. We also still live in a world where nationality and ethnicity do play a role in your ability to succeed in a certain context. This is especially true when local practices make it hard for people from diverse backgrounds to be in contact with one another.
The key challenge is to manage the polarity where on the one hand you will have to be counterculture in your practice of equality while on the other hand, you must be aware and realistic about the perceived or real inequalities that still exist today.
Product life cycles are consistently becoming shorter and that requires organizations to be agile and innovative. The global pandemic has accelerated the impact of 'disruptive innovators', typically small organizations with brilliant ideas who are not geographically isolated anymore and can compete on the global stage.
Organizations tend to focus on the methods and techniques to create innovative solutions and then forget that ‘culture eats innovation for breakfast’. Only a healthy resonant culture will allow those techniques, methods, and processes to result in real innovation.
Practicing innovation with a diverse group of people has proven to be 35% more successful than innovation practiced with a more uniform group of people. The main distinguishing factor is the health of the culture they have created amongst the group (we call it 'the third cultural space').
The same four elements already discussed earlier in this article when we talked about teamwork (Trust, Communication, Purpose, and Relational Strength) are essential building blocks for creating a culture that can successfully innovate.
One practical example is how direct <> indirect communication works in the process of innovation. This is especially true when it comes to critiquing ideas and how to do that in such a way that it doesn't disable certain contributors.
Another example would be the assumption that 'brainstorming' is a universally understood and appreciated method. Brainstorming is not a customary practice in every culture and some cultures would find it a threatening and disabling process.
In other words: If you want to create an innovative organization you first must create a culturally agile space that allows all contributors to come alive.
Ownership of actions
Ownership of actions comes with the notion that if you take on a task you can and will be held accountable for completing the task.
The more intercultural an organization is the more managers and leaders need to develop cultural agility in the way to direct and delegate.
We have seen many intercultural situations where there is a strong hierarchy combined with a lack of empowerment. In those situations, the process surrounding directing and delegating often results in communication gaps between the boss and their direct reports.
The direct report might not feel free to a