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November 20, 2016

Case in Point, Pt 3

Series: Multicultural Team Benefits from In-House ICI Training, part 3 of 3
Case in Point, Pt 3

It may surprise you to learn what these colleagues found out about themselves as individuals and as a team when they studied Inter-Cultural Intelligence together. They certainly were surprised!

Back in May, alumni and affiliates of KnowledgeWorkx’s ICI certification training led their own team (the recruitment team of a multinational corporation) through a two-day intensive ICI training. The team works out of two countries to cover recruitment needs across the Middle East and North Africa (with recruiters based in the UAE and their extended support team working from India).

This particular training was centered in India and needed to be conducted in shifts—since the UAE-based recruitment group requires non-stop support—so there were two groups who went through the same regimen and content. Ideally, it would have been even better to be able to conduct the training with the whole team together (about 16 participants), but since that was not a feasible option, conducting two workshops in two half-day shifts was the next best alternative. The instructor presented over 100 slides’ worth of material, covering everything as much as she could touch upon reasonably within a two-day timeframe: What it means to be a global workforce, how “success” has been and is coming to be defined—past, present, future (what does “success” in the world look like now?), what is meant by “Inter-Cultural Intelligence,” what is “inclusiveness” (and how do we create and cultivate it?), perceptions and patterns (unconscious bias), being a cultural critic, being a cultural learner, and more.

The instructor led several interactive exercises designed to guide the participants’ thinking and give them opportunities to speak up and express themselves. One of the surprises, in fact, was how much they opened up. It was a slow start, and it took some encouragement and clarification; but once the activities were underway, everyone truly did let their guards down, and seemed to participate with authenticity and transparency. One of the groups was much more passive, one more aggressive (possibly due to the mixes of personalities). Nobody got visibly angry, although there was some frustration manifested. These groups were surprisingly calm, even though they did seem to be opening up and genuinely sharing.

The biggest surprise? The complexity and diversity of their Three Colors of Worldview profiles. The ICI leaders’ general expectation was that the majority of people on the India-based portion of the team would lean Honor-Shame or Power-Fear. In fact, people with Honor-Shame and Power-Fear -oriented cultural paradigms were in the minority. There was a bit of Innocence-Guilt -oriented thinking evident, but the truly fascinating phenomenon was that several of the participants’ reports reflected nearly an equal-parts split across all three Colors. Only a couple of people were predominately one Color. Nearly everyone had a spread across at least two Colors, and 5-6 were "triangular"—manifesting characteristics of all three.

In hindsight, as the facilitator thought back on participants’ involvement during the interactive exercises that had preceded the Three Colors of Worldview tool results, she realized the participants’ emotional responses and feedback during those activities made a lot more sense—the ways they had been explaining themselves, the ways they had reached their conclusions, the rationale behind their individual reactions—it just all fit when considered in light of their respective Three Colors of Worldview findings.

It was very interesting for the learners, too, to realize that, even amongst themselves, there was such a great deal of diversity. They expected to learn what gaps might exist corporately and how to bridge those gaps between the UAE-based portion of the recruitment team and the India-based portion of the team. However, it was news to everyone that there were such great disparities even on-site in India, disparities among their own personalities and cultural backgrounds. Here is someone who sits within a few feet of you, who looks very much like you, whose commute to work might even overlap your own, they come from the same region—and yet the default cultural paradigms you each grew up with are remarkably different. It was an eye-opening experience for many, to realize that perhaps they did not know one another as well as they had assumed they must.

Their thought process had likely been as that of the instructor’s—they all presumed that the Three Colors discovery tool would reveal their team to be a very homogenous group. That was certainly not the case. It became glaringly obvious that even though these employees all still lived in India, they had already had to adjust and adapt a great deal in order to join this multinational corporation. They came from all different regions, different families, different cultural and philosophical and religious and socio-economical and educational backgrounds—so they were not as alike as others assumed (or as they themselves assumed).

This sort of phenomenon is of course a great example for why we ought not “judge a book by its cover.” The paired discussions that had been arranged evolved into group discussions. Everyone seemed eager to share their own experiences, to share what they had learned about themselves and about one another—these people with whom they work every day, and whom they consider to be their family-away-from-home. They were tremendously excited to share, and to understand more about their friends and colleagues.

Were the training’s objectives realized? YES. A resounding YES.

The opportunity to join this course did enrich the team as a whole (both across national boundaries and across the room!). These tools certainly are helping these UAE- and India-based recruiters and support staff function together as one team with unity of purpose and productivity. The training has undergirded and reinforced teammates’ efforts to build relationships; to work together more efficiently and harmoniously; and to curb, prevent, and address cross-cultural and intercultural issues.

Would this kind of training boost your personal development as a globally-aware contributor? Could it increase the efficiency and harmony of the multicultural teams you are part of and/or leading? How would enriching the global competencies of your team benefit your company corporately and in multinational expansion efforts?

As mentioned in Part 1 (Building a business case) and Part 2 (How ICI can benefit your team) of this series—one thing that KnowledgeWorkx has learned: If you are interested in building high-performing intercultural teams worldwide, Inter-Cultural Intelligence and cultural agility are crucial components for inspiring and enabling optimal performance.


Quickly becoming the global preferred choice for Inter-Cultural Intelligence development, KnowledgeWorkx promotes mutual understanding of other cultures and perspectives in the workplace, and helps teams to develop the intercultural capacity necessary to thrive in a globalized world.

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Last modified on Monday, 30 January 2017 04:54

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