Cultural assessments can be an indispensable tool for developing the cross-cultural awareness and smooth intercultural communication skills required for efficient global teamwork. As someone who’s worked with colleagues from all regions of the globe, I feel lucky that cultural assessments have helped change my teamwork habits for the better.
For example, every time I make an appointment with a colleague I designate a time and clarify the time zone. Every time I revise a piece of content, I consider if the meaning will be clear for someone whose native language is not English. And every time I draft an email, I consider who the recipient is and, accordingly, how formal my tone should be.
If you work on a global team, odds are you’ve taken similar steps to ensure successful intercultural communication and avoid any tension or misunderstanding. You also probably know how easily a message can get lost in translation, or how time-consuming it can be to catch up once a miscommunication has occurred.
Thankfully, cultural assessments such as the CultureWizard Culture Calculator can help global teams overcome these issues. Not because they offer a single solution that will instantly remedy any cross-cultural mishap (no magic wands here), but because they offer tools that address the cause of primary challenges associated with working on a global team.
Cultural Assessments Improve Cross-Cultural Awareness…
Cultural assessments are designed to use simple questions to identify patterns in people’s values and preferences. This information helps generate a profile of a person’s behaviors and tendencies, such as whether they prefer to work on tasks individually or in a group. Essentially, the assessment makes complex and nuanced cultural concepts simple to understand so that professionals with diverse backgrounds can become more aware of their personal work style.
Team members can then use these insights to more fully comprehend how their individual preferences and expectations align with those of their associates. This increased self-awareness and cross-cultural awareness provides global teams with tools to adjust their personal style when necessary, build stronger relationships and work more effectively across cultures.
…And Cross-Cultural Awareness Leads to Better Intercultural Communication…
As you’d expect, when team members understand one another more fully, it’s much easier to communicate effectively. Sometimes the benefits can be felt almost immediately. For example, those with a direct communication style may struggle to recognize when a more indirect colleague is indicating “No.” Those with a more indirect communication style may prefer to use vague language or silence to express a negative answer.
After taking a cultural assessment, more direct colleagues can compare themselves to their more indirect teammates, and vice versa. This offers a way to easily identify subtle behavioral preferences, potentially saving everyone the time and energy they might otherwise have spent operating under an incorrect assumption.
…And Strong Intercultural Communication Helps Build Trust!
In addition to easing certain aspects of day-to-day communications, some benefits of using cultural assessments to improve global team efficiency can unfold more slowly (at first). That’s because an essential component of strong intercultural communication is the ability to build trust. And building trust takes time.
With that in mind, once team members have gained greater self-awareness and cross-cultural awareness through their and their team members’ assessment profiles, building trust becomes much easier. Assessments not only allow teammates to appreciate and adapt to each other’s behaviors, they also provide objective feedback without passing judgment on any one person or culture. This facilitates acceptance of diverse identities and work styles, which Harvard Business Review points out helps foster an inclusive environment that engages and retains talent.
These byproducts of gaining insight from cultural assessments have a synergistic effect on cross-cultural awareness and global team efficiency. When employee turnaround is low, colleagues have time to develop the trust necessary to build strong relationships, communicate more effectively, and therefore save time and increase productivity.