I was delighted to be able to deliver an initial workshop for Cardboard Citizens last week.

It was an interesting challenge, preparing a workshop for an organisation, that is so clearly inclusive and has ‘service for all’ at the forefront of it’s ethos. They didn’t need convincing it was a good idea to crack on and do something more about inclusion in their organisation.

The main learning, I hope, was that inclusion as a way for working, is not just about what you do as an organisation or how the organisation takes responsibility for doing it, but, initially, much more about us as individuals, resetting where we think we are and having that thought process underpin every decision.  After all, any organisation is just a combination of people.

How we think of ourselves as inclusive and how we then role model that behaviour is the first step in becoming more successful at inter-cultural interactions. Acknowledging it, understanding it and being motivated to then do things better (CQ Drive) is the first step in growing your Cultural Intelligence (CQ) and, so, be better at inclusion.

Then, understanding where you sit personally and organisationally, in terms of your own Cultural Values, will help you recognise where others might be (CQ Knowledge), and then you’ll be able to think about that ahead of time (CQ Strategy) and then act accordingly to get the best outcomes (CQ Action).

As an individual, deciding to become more inclusive can be an easy, quick step.  Then, beginning to think about where you are personally in your motivations, can be challenging and uncomfortable, but growth always is. This needn’t take too long. Gathering the information you need to grow your knowledge is an indefinite task, you’re always growing and learning more about different individuals and the cultures in which they exist, but you’ll know yourself when you have the information you need. Planning and assessing your strategy does take some thoughtful reflection, the main thing here is not to trust your gut, but to go with the learning you’ve accumulated in the previous stage. Then you would action your learning, being sure not to over egg the pudding or succumb to cultural stereotypes, if the individual you’re dealing with then falls outside what you’ve learned are cultural norms.

It’s a process. A conversation, with yourself and others, to become more Culturally Intelligent.

Then, working that into your organisation and deciding what your Cultural Values are as a team, takes more effort.

These time consuming efforts are worth it. There can be nothing more rewarding than a fully engaged staff because they know they are wanted, listened to and valued fully for who they are; and, a fully engaged workforce is a highly effective, innovative and productive one.

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