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Supervision Intervention Strategies

Recruitment and Retention Toolkit   Supervision Intervention Strategies   Culturally Competent Supervision [2.8.12]   Bridging Cultural Barriers through Building Trust [2.8.12.a]

Bridging Cultural Barriers through Building Trust [2.8.12.a]

To promote culturally competent workplaces, supervisors need to build bridges through creating trusting environments where all staff feel respected and treated as valuable team members. This can be a challenge in workplaces where people of different cultures are not accustomed to working together and may bring with them long-held biases and stereotypes. Some workers may misunderstand or misinterpret others’ behaviors or intentions due to cultural differences.

In her article, Building Cross-Cultural Trust with Subordinates, Peers and Customers, diversity consultant Tracy Brown highlights the role of organizational leaders valuing diversity and building trust across diverse workforces in today’s successful organizations. She presents four factors in building cross-cultural trust, which can serve as useful guidance to supervisors:
  • Pay attention to the impact of culture on communication;
  • Pay attention to the impact of culture on assumptions you make about character:
  • Pay attention to the impact of culture on the learning and demonstration of competence in work teams; and
  • Create work environments where everyone is valued and can make a contribution.
According to a review of the research literature on organizational cultural competence in Cultural Competence: A Literature Review and Conceptual Model for Mental Health Services[1] “cultural competence occurs when there is compatibility among four important factors: community context, cultural characteristics of local populations, organizational infrastructure, and direct service support.” These factors are summarized in Data Trends August 2009.

Cultural Differences in Engagement Survey: Although the research by Sirota Survey Intelligence, specialists in attitude research, was completed in the corporate world, it provides a snapshot of 800,000 employee responses over the last five years concerning cultural engagement and work attitudes. A summary is available.

[1] Hernandez, M., Nesman, T., Mowery, D., Acevedo-Polakovich, I. D., & Callejas, L. M. (2009). Cultural competence: A literature review and conceptual model for mental health services. Psychiatric Services, 60(8), 1046 – 1050.

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