As a savvy cross-cultural worker, you already know the importance of learning about new cultures. You pick up a few books. You subscribe to some interesting blogs. You rent a few movies about the culture. You might even call up a friend who has worked in that culture before.
These are all helpful for your learning and will give you important insights, and they are a good starting point towards becoming the kind of person you want to be.
But do you see something missing? Any valuable resources you are leaving out?
Like the people you are actually going to be working with?
The people you work with hold the deepest insights to the culture. They live in the middle of it and see complexities that you are blind to. As I always say, when you have a question, ask an Indian. With so many Indias to deal with, the things you learn in the books and movies might have no application in your unique situation.
But you already know it’s not that easy. You can’t just call up Vikas, your lead engineer in Bihar, and say, “Tell me about your culture.” Good luck with that one. Most people in the world (not just India) do not have the ability to intelligently talk about their own culture in a way that helps people on the outside.
And having a cultural anthropologist come in and do a study of your team members and return with actionable insights in the business world is probably not in the budget for this year.
So what you need is a way to learn the deep parts of a culture on your own that doesn’t break the bank.
Culturally Agile Discussion Guides
I’m pleased to announce Culturally Agile Discussion Guides as the first in a series of tools you can use to become a much smarter cross-cultural manager.
The Guides are simple:
- Schedule a 20-30 minute slot with your team once a month
- Pre-read the questions that are sent to your email
- Get into a great conversation with your team and take some notes
- Get smarter
Each guide focuses on a particular topic such as family structures, educational systems, small talk, or celebrities. Along with questions, the Guide also gives you specific insights to listen for and ways to interpret the answers you receive.
Here are a few of the benefits you will get if you commit to doing this for a year:
- You are going to be a much better cross cultural leader
- You will understand what they look for in a leader
- You will have a toolbox full of ideas on how to motivate people from that culture
- You will make all your colleagues look silly at their lack of understanding of basic elements of the culture
- You will start your own blog with all the insights you get
Here’s a free sample to download so you can see how simple and easy they are to use:
The Culturally Agile Discussion Guides are $7/month. Much cheaper than your anthropologist, and more guaranteed insights than any movie or book.
Start today, you won’t regret it.
Image Credit: vk wadhawan on Flickr