Cultural Intelligence and Safety Culture
Bridging Cultures for Safety
Intercultural intelligence involves cultural understanding, communicating, and effectively working with people from different cultural backgrounds.
Improving intercultural intelligence can help enhance safety culture by improving communication, building cultural competence, and involving diverse stakeholders. This involves understanding and respecting cultural differences.
We are living and working in a culturally complex world. Challenges arise when we assume that we all work, make decisions, communicate, share information the same way, and comply with common standards and norms. This is often a goal in high-hazard industries, but we know we deal with diverse and complex human beings.
Cultural Intelligence Challenges in Safety
- Do you find it difficult to integrate your multicultural teams due to negative cultural stereotypes, cultural expectations, defensiveness and resistance to change?
- Are conflicting working styles impacting communication and safety in your workplace?
- Due to language and cultural barriers, is professional communication misinterpreted and difficult to understand across languages and cultures?
- Do you have many good rules and processes, yet people still do not follow them?
- Do you provide lots of leadership/skills training yet still do not get the results you are looking for?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the impact on your team is likely ineffective communication resulting in confusion, a lack of teamwork and low morale, and that’s before we consider the safety culture implications.
Communicating across the many cultures in the workplace is key in the most high-hazard environments, including the oil and gas industry.
How we can help your team
We’ll support your understanding of cultural interactions to allow you and your management team to bridge the complexity of cultural diversity and work successfully with people with different cultural backgrounds to succeed. We have 30+ years of experience in safety in drilling, but many of these concepts can be applied to any high-hazard industry.
Bridging Cultures for Safety Programme
This programme allows you to create new cultural spaces to facilitate win-win solutions; by anticipating, correctly interpreting, and adjusting to the culturally defined behaviours of others.
Underlying Principles of the Programme:
- We are all different but must work under the same rules and regulations.
- Exploring cultural diversity and how it impacts performance.
- How to manage and lead in multicultural and diverse workplaces.
Areas of impact:
- Team Development
- Psychological Safety
- Managing Conflict
- How to lead for a safe operation
The Benefits of our Bridging Cultures for Safety Programme
- Your team learns to talk with people from culturally diverse backgrounds, promote engagement, empower people and build a high-performance team.
- The Programme will enlighten you and your management team.
- You will develop the competency to understand cultural diversity and communicate and interact with people while connecting safety practices to organisational culture to achieve performance operations.
Three Colours of Worldviews
One of the tools we use is the Three Colors of Worldview Discovery tool, which was developed to assist people with a deeper understanding of their own and other people’s cultural drivers, motivators and demotivators. It is a helpful starting point when analysing intercultural situations.
The drivers outlined highlight how our cultural thinking, speaking and acting influences our daily interactions with the world around us, including our safety decisions in high-hazard workplaces.
Your personal cultural preferences are a mixture of the following three drivers:
- Doing that which brings honour (honour <> shame)
- Doing the right thing (innocence <> guilt) and
- Doing that which brings control, power & influence (power <> fear).
By deepening your understanding of the Three Colors of Worldview and learning to adjust your behaviour to connect more effectively, you will increase your Cultural Agility.
Power <> Fear:
A Power/Fear focused culture might emphasise the importance of hierarchy and authority, focusing on following rules and regulations set by those in power.
Workers may be trained to assess their position within the pecking order of the workplace and to behave accordingly, focusing on avoiding punishment or retribution.
Safety practices may be seen as a way to gain or maintain power within the workplace, emphasising demonstrating competence and control.
Honour <> Shame
An Honour/Shame focused culture might emphasise the importance of reputation and image, focusing on maintaining honour and avoiding shame.
Communication between workers and management may be highly relationship-driven, emphasising building trust and respect.
Safety practices may be seen as a way to demonstrate honour and respect for one's colleagues and the wider community.
Innocent <> Guilt
An Innocent/Guilt-focused culture might emphasise clear rules and procedures, focusing on avoiding blame or fault in the event of an incident.
Written contracts and agreements may be seen as essential to ensuring safety, focusing on clearly defining responsibilities and obligations.
Communication in an Innocent/Guilt-focused safety culture may be direct and straightforward, emphasising clear and concise language.
The Three Colors of Worldview is a powerful tool to develop team and organisational culture.
By using the "Three Colors of Worldview Litmus Test" when developing cultures, you can ensure that the collective thinking, speaking, and acting meet three essential criteria:
- doing right by each other,
- honouring each other, and
- being empowering and life-giving to each other.
Intercultural Independence & Psychological Safety
When considering intercultural independence and psychological safety, it's important to understand the cultural norms surrounding the relationship between leaders, managers, supervisors, and subordinates at the coalface.
We must consider how people generally respond to outsiders trying to integrate into a new group. Understanding the things or conditions that provide people with security is crucial. This can help create a more welcoming and supportive environment that encourages people to speak up and share their ideas.
Finally, it's important to consider whether people depend on themselves or the group for their directions and choices in day-to-day life, as this can impact how they approach work and collaborate with others.
These key considerations can help create a more inclusive and psychologically safe workplace culture.
The first step towards psychological safety is inclusion.
We focus on improving your safety culture through intercultural intelligence.
There are written and unwritten rules within high-hazard workplaces. Our cultural norms impact how leaders, individuals and groups make formal and informal decisions and if decisions are made with safety in mind.
We can support your leaders in considering how to communicate with people culturally, bearing in mind their background, understanding and their part in the group and ensuring inclusion.
It is worth noting that everyone’s expectation of a perfect day at work can be completely different, and where you sit on the leadership hierarchy impacts this.
The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety
Inclusion - This stage involves creating an environment where everyone feels included, valued, and respected, where we build trust and establish a sense of belonging among team members.
Learner Safety - Feeling safe to learn. This stage involves creating an environment where it is safe to ask questions, seek feedback, and admit mistakes. Learner safety encourages a growth mindset and creates a culture of continuous learning.
Contributor Safety - Safe to contribute - this is where we step into the innovation threshold. This stage involves creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable contributing their ideas and perspectives. Contributor safety encourages creativity and innovation and creates a sense of ownership among team members.
Challenger Safety - Challenging the system and making improvements safely. This stage involves creating a safe environment to challenge the status quo and speak up when things seem wrong. Challenger safety encourages critical thinking and fosters a culture of continuous improvement.
Within Psychological Safety, having a culture where you can feel safe to admit a mistake or question a decision is very important.
A Safety Culture Definition:
A Safety Culture is the shared values, beliefs, attitudes and practices that shape an organisation's approach to managing safety, preventing accidents and injuries, promoting risk awareness and continuously improving safety performance.
What is Cultural Intelligence?
Intercultural or cultural intelligence refers to understanding and working effectively with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. It is increasingly important in our globalised world, particularly in high-hazard environments where communication barriers and differences in safety practices can create challenges.
Having intercultural intelligence can help teams overcome these barriers and promote a culture of safety that is inclusive and respectful of diverse perspectives. This involves understanding cultural differences in safety practices and communication styles and adapting strategies to ensure a safer work environment for all workers, regardless of their cultural background.
In some cultures, there may be a greater emphasis on hierarchy and deference to authority figures, which could impact workers' willingness to report safety concerns or take corrective actions. By understanding these cultural differences and adapting safety practices and communication strategies accordingly, organisations can promote a safer work environment for all workers, regardless of their cultural background.