Succeeding in today’s global economy requires organisations to acquire, develop, and retain professionals who can operate effectively around the world, irrespective of country or culture. Today’s organisations need a pipeline of professionals who possess Cultural Agility – who have the ability to quickly, comfortably, and successfully work cross-culturally and internationally in environments of unfamiliar cultural norms.
Cultural Agility is a mega-competency that enables professionals to perform successfully in cross-cultural situations. An individual’s Cultural Agility is assessed on the six cross-cultural competencies of 1) tolerance of ambiguity, 2) perspective-taking, 3) cultural humility, 4) resilience, 5) relationship building, and 6) cultural curiosity, and on the three cultural orientations of 1) cultural adaptation, 2) cultural minimisation, and 3) cultural integration.
The three cultural orientations are context dependent, and emerge based on the situation one finds oneself in. The most Culturally Agile individuals leverage each of the three orientations as needed to get the most from their operating environment. These individuals appreciate that Cultural Agility is not solely cultural adaptation, and are able to recognise the times when cultural adaptation is critical. They do not pretend that cultural differences are non-existent, but are able to identify the times when a higher-order professional demands will surpass cultural expectations (cultural minimisation). And they acknowledge that Cultural Agility is not the complete merge of multiple cultures to create a new set of behavioural norms, but that there might be times when cultural integration is necessary.
To assess Cultural Agility and move towards developing a Cultural Agile workforce, you can use the Cultural Agility Self-Assessment. The assessment takes about 20 minutes to complete and provides the individual with one of two reports (a self-development report or interview guide). The self-development report includes useful tips on how to develop your cross-cultural competencies, where the interview guide provides questions to assess an individual’s degree of Cultural Agility.
The assessment can be followed by an e-learning module that provides guidelines and exercises to develop cross-cultural competencies and cultural orientations.
For some case studies on Cultural Agility, please click here to access the case study.