The influx of people from different cultures into a company is a workplace concern around the world. For reasons of personal comfort, individuals tend to segregate themselves from people who speak a different language or are just different. Hence you have several pockets of cultural groups working but rarely socializing with each other because they do not want to risk exposing their differences. Their interaction is solely project or work related. This situation exists in every global marketplace. In order for a company to succeed, it must develop a cross-cultural social intelligence among its diverse employees by inspiring its employees to branch out from their comfort zone. For many, this is not an easy task.
Mentoring is non-threatening by nature and a great place to start developing the social intelligence that is needed to enable employees to interact with a wide spectrum of people. The role of mentor is typically assigned to a seasoned employee whose task it is to provide guidance and support to a new or younger employee. It is about sharing one’s wisdom by providing insights to achieve success within this company. While it is important for new hires to learn the ways of a company’s culture though seasoned employees, it is equally important for the seasoned employees to learn new ways from the new hires or individuals with other experiences. This kind of cross mentoring is more rewarding and gratifying because it encourages these newer individuals to share their unique knowledge and outside experience within the company. Everyone learns and benefits in a (non-threatening) giving and sharing environment.
This is how a company grows and
Cross mentoring builds social intelligence, which in turn builds trust. Apply this strategy to cultural groups. Assign a mentor from one cultural group to an individual from another cultural group. Encourage building the relationship and make sure that there is a balance of sharing so that no one’s time is monopolized. Stress that ideas or opinions should be validated and that each individual should be diplomatic when they are not in agreement. Both agreements and disagreements must be addressed for relationships to develop and a company to grow.
Cross mentoring builds bridges that last and
breaks down cultural barriers.
A third type of mentoring is peer or accountability mentoring. This type of mentoring is used to help individuals with career advancement, overcome challenges, or start a new business (i.e., entrepreneurship). With each type of mentoring there are different styles and approaches with the process.
Academic intelligence and experience are not enough for a person to be successful. It is this social intelligence factor that defines individuals with leadership skills and determines who will make the best team players and leaders. Only you can control your influence on others and ultimately your destiny. Developing this ability to connect with others from a wide range of backgrounds and age groups is a great asset.
Cross-cultural mentoring is an important step in
developing social intelligence in both age and cultural-related situations.