Unlocking Cultural Agility with Marco Blankenburgh

Unlocking the World of HR Through Cultural Agility with Erika Butler

April 03, 2024 KnowledgeWorkx, Erika Butler Season 1 Episode 25
Unlocking the World of HR Through Cultural Agility with Erika Butler
Unlocking Cultural Agility with Marco Blankenburgh
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Unlocking Cultural Agility with Marco Blankenburgh
Unlocking the World of HR Through Cultural Agility with Erika Butler
Apr 03, 2024 Season 1 Episode 25
KnowledgeWorkx, Erika Butler

In a world that's rapidly shrinking due to globalization, the role of human resources (HR) is evolving just as quickly. Erika, a seasoned HR professional, sat down with Marco Blankenburgh to share her remarkable journey from Pennsylvania to becoming a global HR expert. Her story is not just one of personal growth but also a lesson on the critical importance of intercultural agility within the HR space.

This episode is a trove of insights for anyone seeking to understand the profound impact of cultural awareness on personal growth and corporate culture.

Navigating the multifaceted realm of human resources, Erika's experiences shed light on the subtle yet crucial influence of cultural agility in HR practices. Together we uncover the ways normal Western-centric HR frameworks require a revamp to accommodate a more globally diverse workforce. Erika's stories and our exploration of personality assessment tools like DiSC highlight how strategic culture-building can revolutionize team dynamics and retention.

The podcast episode delves into the nuances of intercultural agility, challenging listeners to reconsider how they approach HR and team management.

Leaders take note: our enlightening exchange stresses the urgency for intercultural competence, especially when steering teams through turbulence and transformation. Erika sheds light on building trust within diverse groups and the pivotal role of empathetic leadership in nurturing a resilient and inclusive environment. For those ready to expand their horizons, this conversation with Erika and her team beckons, offering a pathway to growth and cultural competency in today's interconnected corporate sphere.

Learn more about Erika's work at: gohihr.com


In this episode, you will learn:
  --  How to use intercultural agility to  build resilient HR systems with Intercultural Agility at their core
  -- How strategic culture-building can revolutionize team dynamics and retention.
  -- Building trust within diverse groups and the pivotal role of empathetic leadership in nurturing a resilient and inclusive environment

| Learn More about:
  --  The Secret to Culture Change in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.
  -- Unity in Diversity in Your Organization
-- The Key to Unlock Success in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives 

-- Brought to you by KnowledgeWorkx.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In a world that's rapidly shrinking due to globalization, the role of human resources (HR) is evolving just as quickly. Erika, a seasoned HR professional, sat down with Marco Blankenburgh to share her remarkable journey from Pennsylvania to becoming a global HR expert. Her story is not just one of personal growth but also a lesson on the critical importance of intercultural agility within the HR space.

This episode is a trove of insights for anyone seeking to understand the profound impact of cultural awareness on personal growth and corporate culture.

Navigating the multifaceted realm of human resources, Erika's experiences shed light on the subtle yet crucial influence of cultural agility in HR practices. Together we uncover the ways normal Western-centric HR frameworks require a revamp to accommodate a more globally diverse workforce. Erika's stories and our exploration of personality assessment tools like DiSC highlight how strategic culture-building can revolutionize team dynamics and retention.

The podcast episode delves into the nuances of intercultural agility, challenging listeners to reconsider how they approach HR and team management.

Leaders take note: our enlightening exchange stresses the urgency for intercultural competence, especially when steering teams through turbulence and transformation. Erika sheds light on building trust within diverse groups and the pivotal role of empathetic leadership in nurturing a resilient and inclusive environment. For those ready to expand their horizons, this conversation with Erika and her team beckons, offering a pathway to growth and cultural competency in today's interconnected corporate sphere.

Learn more about Erika's work at: gohihr.com


In this episode, you will learn:
  --  How to use intercultural agility to  build resilient HR systems with Intercultural Agility at their core
  -- How strategic culture-building can revolutionize team dynamics and retention.
  -- Building trust within diverse groups and the pivotal role of empathetic leadership in nurturing a resilient and inclusive environment

| Learn More about:
  --  The Secret to Culture Change in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.
  -- Unity in Diversity in Your Organization
-- The Key to Unlock Success in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives 

-- Brought to you by KnowledgeWorkx.com

Speaker 1:

If it's not a healthy culture. You're spending a fortune when you don't need to, so your revenue is not going up and you're bottom. So the cost I just want to. People think HR is soft.

Speaker 2:

It's not, not at all no.

Speaker 1:

People say I get into HR because I like people. That's not the reason you can be in HR and like people. But there's a lot of hard facts that drive what we do.

Speaker 2:

Welcome to the Cultural Agility Podcast, where we explore the stories of some of the most advanced intercultural practitioners from around the world to help you become culturally agile and succeed in today's culturally complex world.

Speaker 2:

I'm your host, marco Blankenberg, international Director of KnowledgeWorks. I'm your host, marco Blankenberg, international Director of KnowledgeWorks, where every day, we help individuals and companies achieve relational success in that same complex world. Wow, it's great to have you live in in our office here at KnowledgeWorks. Thank you so much, erika, for joining us on this podcast, and we've had the privilege to work together virtually and, in this crazy world that we live in, this is the first time we meet in person, so thank you for making the time to come on this podcast and we meet in person. So thank you for making the time to come on this podcast and, as always in our episodes, we of course talk about all things intercultural from different angles and, because of your extensive experience in HR, we wanted to zoom in today on hey, how is intercultural agility making a difference in the world of HR? And? But before we go there, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, marco. Well, I'm thrilled to be here at the KnowledgeWorks office. It's such a treat to meet some of the team members I've been working with for, I think, over two years now, as well as you. So about me? I am from the United States of America. My family has been abroad, in Europe, for the last three years. I am the wife of Travis, 15 years married, and I have two kids, a mom of Cody, who's 11, and a mom of Rylan, who's six. My faith is super important to me and I also have a true joy and love for the field of human resources and business, and I've been doing that for about 15 years after I graduated with my master's and bachelor's at Penn State University in HR management.

Speaker 2:

Fantastic. Well, thank you for telling your story on this podcast. So growing up in the US, graduating in the US, but then also we'll hear a little bit more about your adventures in other countries. When you think back of your youth, what would be some of the first moments where cultural difference or difference in general came on your path?

Speaker 1:

Sure, Well now, from what I know now, I think I was a very late bloomer in this world of cultural agility and intelligence because I lived in an area in Pennsylvania that there was very little diversity, and I didn't even realize that until I went to Penn State University and Penn State did a fantastic job of really opening our eyes to to the diversity of the world. There were students there from all over the world and they had courses and actually just as freshmen we had to attend these sessions to talk about it and that was when I said, wow, I had no idea, I was really. That was the first thing that opened my eyes actually right.

Speaker 2:

So as a student, yes, um, and from there, how? How did you end up moving internationally?

Speaker 1:

uh, tell us a little bit more about that part uh, I love, uh, the way you interact, your, your facial expressions, because a lot of people, good friends in the us, also say, wow, why did you leave, why did you move? And uh, I lived in the US also say, wow, why did you leave, why did you move? And I lived in the same area for about 10 years, married, had homes right by our parents, so it does seem like a kind of a crazy move. However, another big thing for me was at Penn State. I studied abroad in Australia as a senior and I was blown away because I was in the international ward. So I didn't just meet people from Australia, I met, I made friends all over the world and I knew I loved that and I felt like I really grew in my faith but in my, in my studies, I just was exponential time of growth. So when I came back I said I would be open to going abroad again.

Speaker 2:

You say an exponential time of growth. So if you would compare you before you went to australia and then, coming back reflecting on yourself, what changed?

Speaker 1:

I might get emotional. I I you know this people out there, I'm a high eye. So because it was that much help, that much meant to me, that much, okay, um well, I think for one, the world became a lot less scary.

Speaker 1:

I left penn left Pennsylvania in my cocoon of family and friends and I didn't know a single soul in Australia. I didn't know one person and I got on a plane for 30 hours by myself and I was like 20, 21. And the fact that I could do that and I did it I just became much more confident of what I could do in the world. And then the warm welcome I received and how the people around the world I met that became my dear friends so different than me, but the way they live their life was also fascinating and great and I was shocked by that. I guess I think I was more scared of the rest of the world and I realized no, there's a lot more out there. There's a lot of awesome people that I could meet and grow from and learn just from the friendship. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So those are a few of so much more.

Speaker 2:

Now a lot of people who experience that it becomes a little bit contagious, almost. Yes, Some people have said it's actually a little drug. Yeah. It's like meeting and exploring and getting to know the world and meeting other people, their lives. So where did it take you from there?

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, I didn't prepare for this part, but I'll tell you. Well, I realized I have worked now and lived in five continents and I've been to six continents. Not yet Alaska, not Alaska. Antarctica that's on my list one day maybe. But so I guess you're right, you open that door a bit and see what's possible. And me and my husband I don't know, we're not saying we'll never go back to the US, but I think we will be global citizens our whole life. We can never close that door now that it's open, because we found such love and such joy and passion and growth for ourselves and our children.

Speaker 2:

Fantastic and professionally, you've been in the world of HR for quite some time. Currently, you actually talk about that. You founded your own business, but there was a professional career even before that right, so tell a little bit more about that.

Speaker 1:

Sure. So after graduating Penn State I worked for a few organizations. Mostly my time was in Fortune 500 organizations. So in that pace and that you learn a lot in the US, I finished my full time working in corporate America with Thermal Fisher Scientific, which I was at about six years, and that also showed me how much I love working internationally, Cause I got to do some international trips for international teams. So we'd made a decision as a family for both of us traveling and working with international teams. We couldn't do that and have little children for us. For us.

Speaker 1:

And we decided that I would start a company for human resource consulting and the name is higher international human resources. I didn't have international clients, I didn't know if I ever would, but it had to be that name because I knew I loved working internationally. So, five years later, here we are in Dubai.

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm glad we got connected because it was a lot of synergy from the moment we first met, I guess. So the world of HR is, you know, if you look at the books that have been published on HR, typically most of them come from the Western world. Some of them are actually here on the shelves, and I meet a lot of HR professionals yourself as well, of course, and a lot of their theoretical knowledge is typically sort of from a western perspective. So you got to know knowledge works, got to know what we do. A few years back now, what attracted you as an hr professional, as a human being, maybe even as well, to the intercultural approach that we have at Knowledge Works, and were you even convinced initially that you needed it?

Speaker 1:

Sure. So I have an amazing client that I work with three or four years now and they have an amazing board member and he is the one who connected me to you. He saw he really in whether you call it people in culture, human resources, call it what you want but the work, this body work, he really believes in it. And he said we do leadership training, we do a lot of trainings and development. He's like I need to connect you. My daughter works at Knowledge Works. I need to connect you. And my answer to him I'm like, okay, sure, sure, I'll meet with this group.

Speaker 1:

But I said I, I I'm a diversity inclusion trainer, I know culture, I know this and that. So I kind of, even honestly, I told you this pooted a bit, but I'm like, oh, I love Bill, he's an amazing guy, I trust him. So I, I connect with you and I we have our first meeting and my mind was blown. I'm like, oh my gosh, diversity, inclusion Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. But this is so much deeper. You helped me put names to the three worldviews, the 12 dimensions. I didn't even know that existed and I really realized how much I didn't know. And I'm working with these people around the world and I didn't even know these were their values Right. So it's been life-changing for me.

Speaker 2:

It really has working with you guys the last two years.

Speaker 2:

It's exciting yeah, yeah yeah, and every time we speak you have more stories to tell. So, yeah, yeah, so, um, knowing that the world of hr, it is full of western oriented ways of thinking, on books on performance management and leadership and doing appraisals and building policies and procedures and employee handbooks, and you name it um, how does for you, how does knowing what you know now, using the, the ici framework, using tools like perception management, the three colors of worldview, the 12 dimensions, how does that shift the way you go about your HR consulting, advisory work, training, people development?

Speaker 1:

I think what's been so eye-opening for me is I thought I knew a lot of this and I think a lot of leaders I've worked with wonderful leaders that I respect, we think we know, but I would never create a third culture space. I wouldn't. If I was doing, I made a lot of mistakes. Now I see I made a lot of mistakes and that I wouldn't make those same mistakes now. I didn't create a space that because it's not even working in the US without all these other countries. There's a lot of different cultures and you need to be aware of this, right? So I guess, from a perspective of creating, one of our mottos is bring your best self to work, create environments where people bring your best self. But with that, me not understanding this, how could I create that environment? Because I didn't even know some of these values even existed. I only came my own IG my own innocence, guilt that's all existed right.

Speaker 2:

I only came my own ig, my own innocence, guilt, that's all. Yeah, that was that's what for those of us who, uh, who might be listening to a first podcast of in this series um, so you, you started to use language around the three colors yes, yes you, uh, so, uh, maybe just briefly.

Speaker 2:

um so, three colors of worldview are three cultural drivers. It's one of our typical, one of the earlier tools that we introduce people to. So some folks in the world are more right, wrong, innocence, guilt oriented, and that is the main way they make decisions, the way they communicate and think through dilemmas.

Speaker 1:

Family relationships.

Speaker 2:

Also, it affects everything. Yeah, Other people are more honor driven, trying to avoid shameful situations. And then a third category is people that might be more hierarchical in their approach, where position, power might be more important and how to use your power in either a positive way or sometimes it's used in a negative way as well. So those three drivers the continuously at play, and it's one of the really important things, I think, especially when you start to look at the world of HR and looking at at people development. I was.

Speaker 2:

I was with a team last week and one of the ladies said, yeah, I don't understand why my team doesn't do brainstorming very well. And I asked her you know, tell me a little bit more about your team. And it was obvious that the team was super diverse culturally and all three of these drivers were present in her team. Some people were much more hierarchical. They would defer to the higher authority when a question was asked. Other people were more honor driven, so they would listen to the people in the room and they would not position radical ideas very easily. They would be very cautious, and other people would be more innocence, guilt oriented, and they just say what's on their mind, you know, and just put it out there, and she was. I explained it to her and she says oh, that's why brainstorming is so difficult with a culturally diverse group. So when you think about the world of hr, what are some of these practices, with these disciplines that come to mind where intercultural agility is really important? Sure?

Speaker 1:

well, I have several I would love to discuss, but I think, just going off of your example, what a difference would it be now that she knows this? We structure how we do meetings at this organization and we say these are the five rules. We all follow the guidelines and we go through. What does this mean for honor? Shame. What does this mean? And then here you go. And this is gonna. This is gonna transform the way meetings are done, and much more so.

Speaker 1:

That's just a really tangible example of leaders having a strategy, knowing this and that's gonna be a game changer for that organization just by doing that yeah simple but effective and and it can avoid a whole lot of challenges. Yeah, imagine the ideas they going to get out of that meeting now going forward if they did that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

So there's a few that come to mind Because I just touched on it. I'll share. But obviously, as an HR professional say, I'm new to a team. I want to come and assess the culture and you do that a lot of ways and we're very data-driven. What is turnover huge cost are we? Do we have open positions? One team I worked with had nine months open sales position in open territory. Do you know how that impacts the revenue coming in? A lot? You don't. It's covered. So what covered? I want someone there yeah, but like.

Speaker 1:

You assess all of this and you realize, okay, this is a healthy culture or it's not. And then what are we going to do about it? Focus group surveys, you gather that. And then, if it's not a healthy culture, you're spending a fortune when you don't need to. So your, your revenue is not going up and your bottom, so the cost. I just want to. People think HR is soft.

Speaker 1:

It's not at all no people say I get into HR because I like people, that that's not the reason you can be in HR and like people. But there's a lot of hard facts that drive what we do. So the culture piece If you can't have a place where people feel they can bring their best self to work, they cannot thrive, they cannot perform at their best and they're not going to attract the best talent. I can give you so many reasons to back that up. So that is number one why it's important. If you have a cultural diverse team or work globally, you gotta get this right yeah you gotta get it right now.

Speaker 2:

I just want to throw this in, because one thing that that I have seen once people discover the culture piece, or the puzzle piece that they've missed, um, they typically still get stuck in this idea. Oh, which nationalities do I have on my team? I have a Korean and a Brazilian and an American and a German, etc. And now I need them to work together. How is what KnowledgeWorks does for you? How is that different? Because we, from the beginning, beginning walked away from this idea of painting national cultural broad brush strokes as a base. We use the personal culture as a base. How, how can, does that make sense for you? How do you apply that?

Speaker 1:

so much it makes sense. It's the power of the one, the individual, recognizing that, yes, this might be underlying values, but one of my team members did this and she did the report and she fell in two of the three categories. And this happens just because you live somewhere doesn't mean you, there's not outside influences of your values. So don't assume just because they're from us, china, wherever, and the personality set piece, you have the values, but like we love disc right.

Speaker 1:

Uh, there's layers on like the values, but there's layers on that. You cannot just come in and make these assumptions.

Speaker 2:

That will not work yeah you need to know your team so really getting to know people at a personal level, both from a psychological point of view as well as from a cultural point of view, is crucial.

Speaker 2:

You mentioned a few times already the idea of a third cultural space oh yes that sort of lingo that we use, and it points to this idea of culture creation. So even the example of brainstorming how do we create a meeting culture where we have, you said, a few rules, where our meetings have become better, where people feel comfortable and safe, sharing in ways that are acceptable to them, which is a way of creating culture, right? So how? You mentioned leadership, how do you bring a group of leaders together? How do you create culture between leaders and why is it important in the first place?

Speaker 1:

So, for me, what I found work, just speaking from my personal experience as well as my studies and research I really think it has to be the data.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

I I the only way I've done this with a group of you know the senior leaders of an organization, and when you show the data and you say this is why the team's leaving, this is what like. If you can bring them that and you can paint the story and they get it, they're going to be more willing to listen. And also, I found another key that's been game changer for me. You always have maybe that one or two challenging leader that might not get it or be on board, say it's marketing. Well then I'm going to partner with that person, be the best darn marketing supporter that I can possibly be. Show them I got your back, I'll always have your back. And then guess what, when that leadership team's on board, you know it yourself they just they can run together. So the data being good partners to them, relationally strong trust you talked about that with Shelly on one of your last podcasts trust, and then I think the team can be unstoppable to make this happen. But you have to train them too, right you need to equip them.

Speaker 1:

You need to equip them too.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and culture creation is. You know, it's one thing. If people all carry the same passport, which is, if they come from all over the world into an organization that in and of itself has a culture, then you really need to have intentionality about it. And I love what you mentioned earlier. That data is important. Data about you know, what's the impact of our current culture on the organization and what does that result in in terms of what's working, what's not working? But then also, adding that self-discovery piece, and I was with a group of senior leaders last week and sometimes I think, well, these people have been in careers 15, 20 years. Why are we going? You know, sometimes I'm even scared to take them back to basics, but then when you do, it's like you know, this beauty start, you know, it's like painting, almost, you know, and people really appreciate that self-discovery and deeper awareness because from that they can actually move forward.

Speaker 1:

Yes, they can make a difference the first time I learned about disc I was at thermal fisher and they brought in this amazing training. They trained all the leaders on disc and it just was so shocking to me because I'm a high I and obviously that there's conflict with some other groups and I never understood that. I did like the assumptions about me that people may could hurt me and as well as my assumptions hurt maybe them. But to get the this piece, it was so healing for me as a person to walk forward in that with much deeper understanding.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, starting there, and then from there also, you actually genuinely can appreciate what other people bring to the table that you don't have and leave space for it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and also, who am I meeting with? Okay, there is c.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so I need to bring my data again even more the data yeah speaking of data, I'd love to share one specific example that I think will really paint um the picture, because I think we learn through story. As humans, we learn through story right, absolutely um. So this actually happened at thermal fisher and I got to join a group, um, as the hr head, or whatever you want to call it, and I uh, but in six months to a year it was a phenomenal leadership team. We work great together. But in six months to a year, we dropped turnover together from 14% to 7%. We had our internal promotions go and I remember this because you'll see the flip-flop 25% to 52%. So that means people were getting promoted internally instead of hiring outside. We love hiring outside, but isn't that amazing? People had a better path forward because they were getting developed.

Speaker 1:

We had 100% job offers, except it wow when there was a job opening for a long time before. Do you know, I'm saying, oh, one year. Oh, the other cool thing in one year, not one of the new people left the first year all these things because we focused on culture and we rallied around the culture. That is how powerful it is. Do you know the cost savings of that turnover? So I just have to share that like it really does work. This is not pie in the sky stuff here yeah, yeah, oh, fantastic, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So when you think about the world of hr, what would be other? I mean, we could talk about many application areas, but what comes to mind for you that you think is important?

Speaker 1:

so we have now for five years done full day leadership trainings with organizations. We got to actually go back to ThermoFish and do that. That was fun, and other organizations as well, and we have one whole segment. We have five segments and we have one whole segment on change management for leaders. Because if you're going to trip and fall and struggle and be in this chaos cycle yourself which happens for leaders it's nice to know what to call it, it's nice to expect.

Speaker 1:

As a human, I'm going to be going through these emotions, but how do I lead from that place and I think you're talking about all these global organizations If you're leading in that? How can you lead well in a chaos season If you don't understand the values of the team, their core family values, not just. Oh, I value integrity Great, me too, core. And I think it's like okay when we communicate this message. What does honor shame need to hear? What does power fear need to hear? That strategy? It's a big miss. This happens all the time. You see, I know you do, I know you could give a zillion examples. That's huge. I think that's a huge way to use this tool.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and to your point. Actually, one of our practitioners is currently on that topic, doing a PhD, looking at exactly that. If you come from a more hierarchical background, more power-driven background, how is change actually working for you and how do you, as a leader, come alongside people? What does it look like if you're more honor, shame driven, or more innocence, guilt driven? And it's fascinating, even in the world of change, if you look at the theory of change, those three things convincing people through reason, uh, inviting them to a higher purpose, like, like glory to be gained you know you're going to be the savior, the hero of what?

Speaker 2:

the future will look like, or forcing people and just saying I'm in charge here, this is, we're going to do this from now on. Just get you know, get on with it. Those three are actually classically the cocktail of change management and it's like you said. It's just incredibly powerful to bring a tool like the Three Colors of Worldview alongside and you can instantly see how you misfire in the change management approach you use.

Speaker 1:

You think even about like an innocence, guilt, culture. Ambiguity is hard for some because of personality, easy for some, but there's creativity in it, there's almost fun in it to some extent. But you think of power, of fear, and ambiguity becomes what do we do? The leader's not telling us what to do and I want to know what my leader tells me. So I do my job. Well, bravo to them. Right, but even that, even common things of change is going to hit differently.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, even common things of change is going to hit differently, yeah, and if you?

Speaker 1:

look at how change is changing. It's constant. The only thing about change is it's constant, or what is it? There's a saying. Do you know what I'm trying to say here? What's the saying?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the only constant in the world is change.

Speaker 1:

Which is so ironic.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and it's not that. Oh, oh, we've handled it. So now there's calmer waters. The moments, those moments with calmer waters, are less and less, and they're shorter as well now here's ai, now here's this.

Speaker 1:

Like you turn around and some whoa, what the heck is this? Yes, we're all living this together.

Speaker 2:

It's rapid yeah, absolutely yeah. That's a great area. We could talk a lot about that, and and what I also find, I think and you, you probably have seen the same is that the ability to successfully go through change increases significantly if you have a strong culture to begin with trust.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah with Trust, trust, yeah. So strong levels of trust If you go through rough waters, if you have a good team that knows what to expect from one another. We always talk about, you know, can I anticipate your behavior, do I correctly interpret it and do I adjust my part in the game wherever necessary? So strong cultures do that super well. And in change, you have to do that all the time, yeah.

Speaker 1:

It is brilliant what you just said, because one of the parts of our training is we always, in this part of the day, do a focus group, the way we're very like our values, our results, quality and trust, and we're very big on results because so I don't want to just train a team for a day. So what, what, what, what's the investment? One of them is accurate feedback. What are the leaders saying? What is the mess? And then this change part fear always comes out. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Fear. I'm not going to know. The new system. I like it this way. Well, how can I let them? They're scared because they don't have good communication. Maybe they don't have the path, Maybe the training hasn't been set up yet. That's what it is. So the fact that you're already doing that, Marco wow, what it would look like if we provide this before the change is announced. So they know they have support. Yes, it's hard, but you're going to be supported. We're going to see you through this. We're going to do it together.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's powerful.

Speaker 1:

Game changer.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely yeah. What are maybe some other areas that you see in HR?

Speaker 1:

So we did touch on it a bit, but I do think if there is a lack of leaders being equipped of even how to do this, or that it even exists, again, right, they might have the diversity, inclusion, training, but there's so much more depth to go to understand their team, and I think it's really important for organizations. It's top down, it just is. Even in the US it is. If the leaders do not grasp this or care about it and, by the way, you said a comment, not everyone does care. That's true. There's people out there. Oh, I like it my way. Fine. Who are we hiring to lead this team? Are we hiring somebody who is going to care about our different people and cultures and the individuals that make this up? So I think, if we have no strategy on how we're training our leaders and what is the accountability, by the way, what is the accountability? That is what's going to carry us the leaders leading well and understanding this and really grasping it and sharing it with their teams.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, if we don't have that, it's sort of counterintuitive, because leaders are dealing themselves with so much change. And there's so many balls that they have to keep in the air. If then, at the same time, they have to carve out time to develop themselves, to become, you know, satya Nadella of Microsoft says we have to become more human, humans. Yeah that's true, and that takes time. It does, and if you're inundated, it's really takes a lot of discipline and courage and doing it together. That's the other thing that's super important.

Speaker 1:

But you're right and this is why the time piece, this is why it gets missed so much. I think this is why we have teams that have leaders.

Speaker 1:

For 20 years they never had leadership training wow and now I'm talking more small to mid-sized businesses, because, as a as a hr consulting piece, we wrap around them, as you know. So I got to do more of that now, which I really enjoy, um, but you're right, you're competing for priorities. So how do you convince the executives, whoever it is, that this actually will trickle through your whole organization? There's's a huge cost benefit. You know what I mean, like helping them get this. And why do we make space, even if it's a day, whatever it is, for our leaders to prioritize this? That's huge. If we don't do that, this won't work.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. We've talked a lot about the very practical application, consultancy, advisory work, coming alongside teams and organizations from a learning and development point of view. How does it change you oh?

Speaker 1:

that's good, um, really at this point I have grown so much the last few years. It's the right audience to share. I guess you know, um, I don't. I feel very different than I did. So does my husband. I'll give you one little quick personal example how you see this personally, not just work. When we moved to Switzerland we had a little. My daughter turned four. We had a really small party for her of just two families, lovely people, still friends with them, all good friends, um and we. We had them. We had had. My husband orders a lot of food. He always does, so he had these. They were carrying these massive pizza boxes home and they were all crammed in our elevator and we realized in these, these two families, there's 10 languages spoken.

Speaker 1:

Wow, 10, 10 languages and my husband, I know one, I know some spanish I keep working on it some german now and we were like what the heck, what is this? And we and we were like what the heck, what is this? And we really quickly were like we know we have a lot to learn and the joy of that, the excitement, I will yeah, I just want to lean into it more and more and more and get more people to see what joy this brings to your life. Eating people all over the world, I learned so much. That's great.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you mentioned the HR consultancy learning and development company you started. You're very humble about it, but tell me a little bit more. What do you guys do? And you mentioned Fortune 500s as well as smaller firms where you say you wrap your arms around them. We do, yeah, tell me a little bit more about what you do.

Speaker 1:

Yes, so we have done projects and we do projects for Fortune 500s because a lot of us have come out of that space.

Speaker 1:

So we have done and we do executive coaching, we do leadership training, normally projects. The big companies don't hire us for long-term services, they just want us to come in and assess the situation, or investigation, or executive coaching, something like that. Um, so that's actually a piece of it and we love this. But our bulk, what has really become our bulk, is for these small to midsize organizations, as well as nonprofits and churches and life science businesses, we become their HR department. They don't need somebody full time. They might have anywhere between 20 to 70 people, so maybe they're to the point. But we do their benefits and we do their succession planning and we provide their training and they have one partner they work with on our team and then our team covers it all. We do their recruiting and we just wrap, wrap around them and make it easy so they don't have to worry about their HR handbooks, like whatever they need in HR. We got them covered and that's the bulk of what we do.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and it's one of the many reasons, but it's one of the reasons why we were attracted to Go High HR, because the fact that you have that technical expertise which we in KnowledgeWorks we don't have and it's a great way to partner but also your deep passion for people development and culture creation. That was you know. So, as a result of that, we are actually partners now, officially, right. So how do you see that? How do you see that going to the future?

Speaker 1:

I am so thrilled. I am so thrilled coming into 2024 to partner be an official partner of KnowledgeWorks Again. It might get emotional. We are very aligned in our values, our teams. My team loves your team Like, and even your team said to my team no matter who we get, we are going to feel better. It's going to be a positive Like we really lift each other up and I think we're just going to be stronger together. I think the synergy is phenomenal. I have so much to learn from you guys and we just it fits. It's this beautiful fit. So I want more of our team trained on disc Like. We have so many ways to collaborate and strategize and help more people. I think, with you guys, we'll be able to help many more people because of the equipping you are putting into our team.

Speaker 1:

I didn't have DISC before. I didn't have the ICI, the intercultural, and now I do. Thank you to you. So you say tech, what did you use? The technical? It's funny because maybe in ways, we're strengthening you with the technical, but you're strengthening us with the technical big time with the technical, but you're strengthening us with the technical big time Right, right.

Speaker 2:

So, it's beautiful. Yeah, I know it's exciting and it's beautiful because I'm learning more and more how small partnerships can be big. You know both smaller organizations, but by synergizing and bringing what we're really good at and passionate about bringing that together, it amplifies, it does. Something beautiful is born.

Speaker 1:

It feels just the beginning of what is possible, and I'm not just saying that as being a positive person. I truly believe that deeply, and my team does too. We're all very, very excited about it.

Speaker 2:

So there's typically quite a few HR professionals listening to this podcast, and if they haven't been exposed to ICI, to anything to do with intercultural agility, what would you say to them?

Speaker 1:

no-transcript. So I love my HR people. I love working with HR people. Many times, you know, we're fast friends because we understand the name of a terminator, a party planner, all the misconceptions of what we actually do Right, and what I would say is, if you, too, also have a passion to see your team grow and develop and build these healthy cultures where people thrive, ici will give you the right terminology. It will give you the right terminology. It will give you the equipping. You'll be with a team of amazing people around the world that you'll get to know, led by Marco. So I guess I can't say enough. I think, now that I've got to go through this, I just feel much more equipped to go out to help my leaders and help our team grow. And you're going to do that because, as an HR person, you're doing that already. So what you can infuse from this into the leaders you work with and the team you work with, it's very powerful.

Speaker 2:

Thank you. Thank you for saying that that's true. So for the partnership between our two organizations, your team that you're leading, what's ahead of you, of us?

Speaker 1:

Well, there is so much more than I can even say right now, but we are definitely on a growth trajectory. We are ready to hire more amazing people that we've been in touch with that would like to join, and we just want to make the biggest impact we can and help as many people as we can. And we just want to make the biggest impact we can and help as many people as we can. But I will say, with much growth that we're seeing the next month or two, we're also working on the cleanest internal processes to really support where we're headed, and that is so important. If we don't do that well, we could fall off the track. So we're seeing that as we grow and we're focusing on the new clients and football. You got to get it perfect internally to be able to support what's happening. So that's like I'm. That is a big focus for me this quarter to really assess this and make sure our team has the best support internally possible so they can give the best support to the growing clients.

Speaker 2:

I can totally concur with that. Give the best support to the growing clients. I can totally concur with that. I'm not naturally a detail-oriented person, but we have beautiful, detail-oriented people on the team who make that happen, and it's incredibly important because it creates scalability, yes, but also it creates a practice in your own team that you can transfer to your clients.

Speaker 1:

Yes, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, and one more question for you um, so we're talking about the future, um, and the uh, the fact that you know, we, we're all, we all have aspirations ourselves, but we also, you know, we sometimes have wishes for the world, wishes for the people around us. When you think about people in professional jobs, in NGOs, and especially when you think about the people who operate in more of a global context, what's a golden nugget that you would give to them? What would you say?

Speaker 1:

So the golden nugget would be the most amazing successful people I've ever seen were also insanely kind, and I would travel with some of these incredible executive leaders and they whoever opened the door for them, thank you. How are you today? And they get that every person brings such value and they treat everyone the same and I think that is so beautiful and such a good foundation with the heart behind the work that is being done here, so never forget to be kind simple, but I've worked with lots of different people and not everyone does that, but the ones that bring that kindness and that respect to everyone, no matter where in the world, they're the ones changing lives.

Speaker 1:

When you're a leader, it's a gift. You have much responsibility as a leader. It's hard and it's awesome. You can change many lives. Will you change it for the good? Are you going to hurt people which you could, or you could really bless them for the rest of their lives? And it spills over to their families.

Speaker 2:

That's awesome. Thank you for that. So, because of time, we need to wrap this up. We could talk for a long time, but if you want to get in contact with Erica and her amazing team, you'll find her details in the show notes. So don't hesitate to reach out to her and make sure you get connected to her and her team. So thank you so much for joining us today. Really enjoyed this conversation.

Speaker 1:

Me too, Marco.

Speaker 2:

Thank you. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of the Cultural Agility Podcast. If you enjoyed today's episode, share it with someone. The best way to help us out is by leaving a review on your favorite podcast app or channel, or by forwarding and recommending this podcast to people around you. As always, if any of the topics we discussed today intrigue you, you'll find links to articles discussing them in greater depth in the podcast notes. If you would like to learn more about intercultural intelligence and how you can become more culturally agile, you can find more information and hundreds of articles at knowledgeworkscom. Special thanks to Jason Carter for composing the music on this podcast and to the whole Knowledgeworks team for making this podcast successful Nita Ulrikez, ara Azizbekian, rajitha Raj. Thanks to Vip and George for audio production and Rosalind Raj for scheduling, as well as Caleb Strauss for marketing and helping produce this podcast.

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