- Created on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 21:58
It has been said that more than half of all international joint ventures will fail within two or three years due to 'cultural myopia' and 'lack of cultural competency' - not due to any lack of technical or professional expertise.
A critical reality, often missed by organizations sending personnel into cultures other than their own, is that cultural competency requires much more than extra compensation or better reading material. Cultural competency, essential for both individual productivity and an organization's bottom line, is not achieved at the head level. Cultural competency happens with the recognition of the profound human experience of transition and how it affects us as individuals.
Employees transitioning need not only information about the transition process but an understanding of themselves at each step of the process. As a trainer friend of mine simply puts it, "Nobody knows what they don't know until someone who knows tells them." Until they can recognize their own responses to the transition process and acquire skills to address them and take care of themselves, they probably will not be productive or strive for quality in their work for very long.
Supervisors overseeing staff in cross cultural transition need the same information, understanding and insights about the transition process in order to brief, support, and debrief their personnel regularly and consistently. Supervisors must facilitate and operate in a transition paradigm as they lead their team across geographic and cultural boundaries.
While employees must gain awareness and apply new learnings in order to deliver their work, they will also deal with the process of transitioning in life, thought, and motivation. While they gain ability to observe and adjust to getting business done in culturally appropriate ways, they must also gain the ability to understand themselves as they really are while adjusting and re-establishing their identity and equilibrium.
These global complexities and 'lack of cultural competency', if not addressed from the vantage point of the transition process, will too often end poorly in spite of the time and fervor invested. Only when understanding the transition process will personnel and the organization they represent become effective, balanced, and productive in a successful venture.