(This is an interview authored by Murray Newlands and published in FORBES)
Every day you are influenced by home and even work culture, whether you realize it or not. Culture, after all, has a huge impact on our views, values, desires, and worries as both individuals and members of a larger community.
Since culture also connects us with others, it makes sense that businesses give a lot of thought into the culture of their company. Remember, culture drives the value of a company from beginning to end. And that’s why entrepreneurs need to consider using culture to steer their start-up in the right direction. Take recruiting new team members, for example. Hiring someone who doesn’t fit into your workplace culture can affect everything from morale, productivity, and even the bottom line. In today's hyper competitive job market, when job seekers have many sites, like Glassdoor, that enable prospective staff to find whether or not they would want to join your company culture. For both you as the business owner and them as the employee, this can make or break your company. If company culture isn't up to par, how are you going to get the top tier staff to run it?
Furthermore, thanks to technology and globalization, it’s even more important than ever to be cognizant of the various cultures your business will interact with. You wouldn’t wouldn’t want to expand into a new market and offend your prospective customers through potentially culturally insensitive ads.
Which is why brands ranging from Google, the United Nations, and BMW have been incorporating “cultural intelligence” in their work. Cultural intelligence (CQ) simply provides you with the ability to interact optimally with a culture. Individuals and organizations can increase CQ by assessing the following four capabilities; CQ Drive, CQ Knowledge, CQ Strategy, and CQ Action.
Following the collapse of Communism in his native Romania in 1993, Cosmin Gheorghe first began working with what he calls “cultural and social systems”. His fascination with the human mind, behavior, and relationships lead him to earn a degree in psychology. He has since worked to help organizations understand and adjust their company culture so they can increase employee interaction, job performance, gain a competitive edge, and reduce employee turnover.
I recently picked Gheorghe’s brain about the importance of culture and how your startup can become “culturally intelligent”.
Murray Newlands: It seems there is quite a bit of talk about culture lately, especially within the entrepreneurs and tech ecosystem. Why do you think there is suddenly such a widespread interest in the concept of culture?
Cosmin Gheorghe: The immediate answer is very simple: nobody can escape culture. I believe that people are becoming fully aware of this impossibility, so naturally they are now focusing on how to cope with it - although, coping is not the way to go.
MN: What do you mean by that?
CG: Let’s suppose for a moment you decide you don’t want to have anything to do with culture. In that precise moment you have already subscribed to a new culture: The Culture of Those Who Don’t Want to Have Anything to Do With Culture. So it’s practically impossible to not be part of not only one, but several cultures.
MN: You talk about several types of cultures, what, then, is your definition of culture?
CG: There is a more broad definition, which applies to any culture: the customs, behaviors and achievements of a particular group of people. Most people use the word culture to refer to the organizational (work) culture or to national (and/or ethnic) cultures. These are the main focuses of my work, together with the customers culture.
MN: Speaking of your work, what is a Culture Influencer?
CG: Exactly what it says: an individual who has training, skills, and solid experience helping a culture achieve its full potential. For example, building or optimizing a company culture that involves (to begin with) creating awareness of the interactions within that culture, of the unspoken norms, values, “rituals”, etc. Almost all my clients have employees from all over the world - most of whom are expats. So in addition to the company culture, I also assess and measure individual cultural values in order to determine how they can be optimally integrated into the company culture.
Of course, Culture Influencer is an emerging profession and it requires the integration of knowledge from multiple disciplines, like psychology, sociology, anthropology, biology, analytics, and artificial intelligence. Technology and globalization have become so complex that we can no longer afford to get our knowledge and skills from only one discipline.
(READ MORE on FORBES website by following the link below).