As workplaces become increasingly diverse and global, cultural agility is more important than ever before. A recent conversation on The View From The Top between global mobility leaders highlighted how critical it is for organizations to train their employees on working effectively across cultures.
Here are some key takeawys from Brian Friedman's discussion on cultural agility with Simone Hilger (Deutsche Telekom), Isabela Sena (Stellantis), Alain Verstandig (NetExpat), and Laurette Bennhold-Samaan (NetExpat):
- An overwhelming majority (97%) of respondents in a global survey said that cultural agility is extremely or very important today. However, not nearly that many companies actually offer cultural training to their employees.
- There is a duty of care for companies to provide cultural training. Employees often don't know what they don't know when it comes to working across cultures. Training makes them aware of potential blind spots.
- Deutsche Telekom mandated cultural training when they had to relocate 2000 employees from Russia during the Ukraine war. This training helped employees adjust to their new locations.
- The benefits of cultural agility are felt most in areas like teamwork, communication, leadership and overall organizational success. Lack of cultural agility leads to lower productivity, poor team dynamics, leadership failures and loss of talent.
- The future of cultural training will involve more use of technology like AI and predictive analytics. But human interaction will still be critical - technology can enhance training but not replace it.
- Training should not just be for expat assignees but for diverse teams working together in any global location. The focus is shifting from lengthy academic style courses to more bite-sized and context-specific learning.
The bottom line is that cultural training leads to more successful global assignments, smoother team collaboration, better leadership and greater retention of talent. As work becomes increasingly diverse, frequent, bite-sized and personalized learning will be key to developing a culturally agile workforce.