Can cultural competence actually be learned?
Yes! Cultural competence can be learned just like any other skills (management, sports, language, financial, leadership…to name a few) can be learned. As with all skills, it is important for cultural competencies to be practiced, updated, and evaluated. Many intercultural skills will serve you well in any global environment, while others will need to be specifically learned and adapted based on target cultures.
What is the difference between training, coaching, consulting, and mentoring?
We’re glad you asked because the four areas are related, yet distinct, and we approach each one differently.
When we provide training, the facilitator directs the interactive process and the goal is for participants to acquire particular cultural knowledge. For instance, maybe your US-based team is doing a project in Brazil and wants to better understand what effective business communication, management style, and decision-making look like and how they may differ from the team’s cultural norms.
When we engage in coaching, the client has a goal or problem, together we co-create a plan to facilitate positive change, and as a coach, we hold the client accountable for actions that hardwire new behaviors and help shift a cultural mindset. For example, so many expats find themselves in a position where they are not only assimilating to their new work environment, but are also simultaneously challenged with helping their family adapt and creating a new normal. A lot of their energy is siphoned off in this process. Getting coached, ideally before or even at arrival can significantly mitigate the stressors that detract from overall well-being and workplace performance. This maximizes the organization’s investment in that the leader (and his or her family) arrives poised to execute, and ready to go.
When we offer consulting services, our goal is to observe the current situation and offer solutions based on cultural expertise, past experience, and current resources. One of our clients who runs programs aimed at a local Spanish-speaking community wanted to improve their clients’ awareness of the offerings and attendance at sessions. We were able to look at what they had traditionally been doing, make culturally appropriate suggestions for modifications to offerings and advertising, and ultimately help them significantly improve the reach and results of the programs offered.
When we provide mentoring, we share our best practices, help clients practice that approach, and offer evidence-based resources coupled with hands-on guidance on how to deal with cultural differences.
Ok, I understand the differences, but how do I know which is most appropriate?
This basically depends on what you want the competency building process to look like. When you come to us with a problem:
If we train you, we’ll educate you on how to solve the problem.
If we coach you, we’ll ask you questions so that you can arrive at your own insights about how to best solve the problem.
If we consult for you, we’ll diagnose what may have gone wrong and share with you how to solve it.
If we mentor you, we’ll share how we would solve the problem, and give you guidance to do the same.
Who are your typical clients?
We work with a wide range of clients, ranging from multinational corporations to local non-profits. Our clients are in industries such as pharmaceutical, consumer goods, healthcare, education, project management, and global mobility. We believe that almost everyone today is living or working in an environment where they interact with culture in some way, shape, or form, and therefore, where cultural competency building is relevant.
Are services available in different languages?
Absolutely. We primarily deliver services in English, Spanish, and French, and are able to accommodate other languages as necessary.
Can services be delivered virtually?
We love that technology has made cross-border interactions so much easier, and we often leverage those capabilities. Some services are well-suited to virtual delivery, and others are optimized by face-to-face interactions. Our goal is to co-create a plan with you that will deliver maximum value and results, so contact us and let us know your goals so that we can start a conversation around the best ways to achieve them.
Do you travel to client sites domestically or internationally?
Yes! While we are based in New York, and love this city, we are always prepared to hit the road and visit clients on-site wherever they may be. Thirty plus countries and counting…
How much do you charge?
We pride ourselves on the fact that our services are highly customized based on our clients’ circumstances and needs, so we’d need to know more in order to give an answer. We look forward to hearing about your particular situation.
I know culture is important, but how do I know the best way to start building cultural competencies either for myself or within my organization?
Although it may seem counterintuitive, a helpful first step is often to begin by thinking about your own culture. Examine your national, organizational, or personal preferences before beginning the process of looking at the other cultures with which you are interacting so that you can effectively pinpoint any relevant gaps in knowledge or skills. It’s also useful to familiarize yourself with what cultural competency looks like and the aspects that tend to differentiate cultures. This can be accomplished on your own through observation, reading, and cultural self-assessment tools. We also regularly speak about these topics at conferences, meetings, and webinars, so be sure to check out our upcoming events, as we’d love to have you join us!
How can I keep an intercultural mindset top of mind?
We actually wrote an article that you might find helpful as it provides some useful questions to consider as you think about intercultural interactions. We also regularly compile resources that you may find informative and would invite you to stay up-to-date by following us on Twitter or LinkedIn, and receiving our periodic email updates.