10 reasons why more cultural intelligence is needed in the manufacturing industry

Why is cultural intelligence a skill needed in the manufacturing industry?

The manufacturing industry supply chain can be long and complex, with managers working across many cultures and in many different circumstances. Raw materials may be sourced from one location, with production in another, procurement elsewhere, with distribution and retail on a global basis. Companies in the manufacturing industry may have offices all over the world, using multiple languages.

10 reasons why cultural intelligence is vital to the manufacturing industry

Whether managers in each location are locals or global assignees, cultural intelligence is an essential component for everybody in the chain. Developing cultural awareness means individuals in manufacturing industry can be more effective – and that a company’s values can become better and more quickly aligned across a wide range of cultures and situations.

Cultural competence doesn’t just apply to working with offices and clients in other countries. There are different cultures within a company – production, sales, logistics, marketing, procurement– and usually, within any given team. Customers, too, whether corporate or individual, are multicultural – and the company that can talk to these customers in their own language and style should have an advantage over competitors with a one-size-fits-all approach. Cultural intelligence, therefore, isn’t just an issue for those at director level; it’s an essential skill for all employees in a global business, even if they never leave their home town.

Here are 10 reasons why cultural intelligence is vital to the manufacturing industry:

  1. Cultural intelligence helps develop an in-depth understanding of working styles in other cultures. A culturally intelligent workforce will demonstrate better tolerance, trust and understanding of global colleagues. Cultural differences become strengths in problem solving, rather than obstacles, while improved collaboration drives the ability to respond quicker to market changes.
  2. Managers overseeing the bottom of the supply chain – low-skilled production line workers, for example, will need strong motivational and conflict resolution skills to keep the line happy and efficient. Understanding the mentality of a factory worker in, say, Taiwan or the Philippines, is important for the manager, and understanding the challenges faced by regional managers is essential to colleagues in head office.
  3. Local partners, customers and outsourced divisions will become colleagues and friends, with cultural intelligence, rather than an obstacle to success because of their differences.
  4. Cultural intelligence is even more important when working with emerging markets, as management style and expectations may be different. These markets, successful in their own right, do not necessarily consider the head office way of doing things to be the right way. Cultural intelligence training can be delivered locally, or virtually, to even the most inhospitable corners of the world.
  5. A culturally intelligent individual gains trust. By assimilating into a local culture, immersing yourself in its ways and mannerisms and mirroring the gestures of those around you, you will appear more empathetic – provided you are genuine. You are unlikely ever to become just like the locals and think exactly like them but with an open and enquiring mind, learning to cooperate internationally can be learned.
  6. Culturally sensitive leaders make better managers. They are able to better understand the dynamics of multicultural group at a meeting, for example. They are better at negotiating with other cultures, and at conflict resolution between cultures.
  7. Cross-cultural training is essential for globally mobile employees and their families; it will reduce culture shock and make the individual more effective and better poised to integrate with their new workplace.
  8. Multicultural marketing is an important element of manufacturing, whatever the sector. Understanding the individual consumer or the corporate client and meeting their needs is all part of cultural intelligence, whether dealing with customers who are LGBT, Hispanic, Asian, mature or millennial.
  9. Being culturally aware helps individuals to recognise areas of their own communication that could be improved, to make their daily interaction with international colleagues more effective, and more enjoyable. How emails and memos are worded, for example, and whether and why, with some cultures, face-to-face brainstorming is preferable to a WhatsApp group.
  10. Attracting top talent is essential in a competitive marketplace. Companies that celebrate diversity, inclusivity and cultural sensitivity are likely to be more appealing than businesses that are perceived as inflexible and old-fashioned in their outlook. The diversity of a company’s workplace should reflect the diversity of its market – or consumers may not take that company seriously.


Country Navigator is an online and mobile platform that prepares global managers, executives and assignees on how to work and adapt to working across over 100 cultures. It combines assessments, country content and a range of e-learning modules.

Significantly increase your company’s global effectiveness

As a comparison instrument it allows users and corporate account owners to compare culture profiles and tendencies with countries, teams and colleagues and receive instant guidance on how to collaborate more effectively. Country Navigator supports clients in building cultural intelligence; from induction through to executive and high potential development. Country Navigator ensures all global leaders are well prepared and effective when managing diverse teams. The system follows a well-proven methodology which focuses on operational realities and practical application, enabling learners to transfer new skills and knowledge to their workplace.

Country Navigator on Tablet

Benefits for your organization

  • You will achieve greater levels of collaboration, cohesion, and integration across teams and functions.
  • Country Navigator allows you to utilize existing technology and devices for inquisitive, mobile, and increasingly virtual workforces.
  • Realize significant cost savings over traditional training methods.
  • Enhance live, in-person classroom training and coaching programs with self-paced online learning modules.
  • You will be able to educate and inform employees at all levels and locations throughout the organization.
  • You can be more responsive in pursuing growth opportunities and managing risk.

Country Navigator is multi-lingual and multi-use

The cultural assessment tool and feedback information is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Russian.

In addition to its assessment capabilities the Country Navigator tool offers e-learning paths and online country briefings for global leaders. Users access structured country learning paths. Information includes local cultural tendencies, profile comparisons and key strategies on how to manage cultural differences. Country Navigator on Phone

  • Country guides: Access in-depth information and expert advice for all key international business destinations, with insider tips to build relationships and secure deals around the globe.
  • Country briefings: Learners go through a six-step structured overview of a country. A video quickly gets them up to speed on the local working styles. A gap analysis between the learner and the target country focuses the learner onto the key strategies that they need adopt to manage any cultural differences.
  • Blended learning: Access structured learning to guide and develop increased cultural awareness to build more fruitful international relationships.
  • Learning on-demand: Access a wide range of integrated learning tools, resources and courses from within the Country Navigator tool, on your desktop, online or via your mobile device.
  • Validated profiles: Culture assessments are based on insights and data compiled by over 250 culture experts covering 126 countries worldwide. A dynamic dashboard reacts to the learner’s usage and guides them to the relevant information. After the learner has completed the cultural profile assessment, the system will generate the learner’s cultural tendencies and provide them with clear guidance on recognizing differences in others and adapting for success. Learners can compare themselves to country profiles and receive detailed guidance on how best deal with any differences. They can also compare their own profile with their colleagues or counterparts and receive instant feedback on how to work better together.

The latest release of Country Navigator provides:

  • Essential tips and in-depth online guidance on how to do business in over 100 countries
  • Personal Assessment – identify your dominant cultural orientations and how they impact your global working style
  • Comparison Tools – compare your profile with colleagues and receive personalized feedback
  • Flight Packs – a downloadable collection of country resources and information

You can try Country Navigator for free right now with our 14 day trial. Click here to sign up.

About the Author

Sue Bryant

Sue Bryant is an award-winning writer and editor specialising in global business culture and travel.

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