Focus Areas‎ > ‎

Cross-Cultural Skills

Cross-cultural skills are essential in today’s work life almost wherever you go. However,
these are skills that are often neglected, especially in Norway it seems, in an attempt to
tone down differences. “We are really all alike,” or “All you need is common sense.”  Of course, we are alike in many ways, in our basic human needs. But we are also different.
What is common sense one place is not necessarily that somewhere else.

Cross-cultural work is exciting and enriching, but can also be frustrating because of
different work traditions. There are different traditions regarding leadership style,
control systems, initiative, working hours, safety mindset, communication form, trust
or mistrust, goal-setting and reporting, contracts…

Improving individual and group cross-cultural skills helps meet the challenges - and
leverage differences in a positive way. 

Joy Buikema Fjærtoft’s background gives her particular advantages for working
with cross-cultural issues. She was born in the US, but has her education as an organizational psychologist from Norway, where she has 
worked for many years.
She also has experience living for longer time 
periods in other countries, and has
been manager of an interpreting service 
with 30 languages and even more
nationalities represented. She has 
combined this practical experience with a professional interest in culture – both organizational culture and national work life traditions. She has worked with multi-cultural organizations and work teams in the
oil industry, among others.

As a shipping and trading nation Norway has a long tradition of being in contact with other countries. Internationalization taking place today, however, requires not only trading, but also working with people of different nationalities to a much larger degree than previously.

 ·         Every 8th employee in Norway is a foreigner (Bjørnstad, 2011)
  ·         Norwegian companies are internationalizing at a rapid pace. From having 
       almost no employees abroad, today over 60% of the employees of the largest
       companies work outside of Norway.
  ·        Foreign ownership in Norwegian companies has increased dramatically
       and these companies are growing faster than Norwegian-owned.

Foto: Scandivian Stock Photo

Talks, kick-offs for multicultural teams, courses and competency
programs, manager and expat-coaching.

What are “cross-cultural skills”?

1. Skills for dealing with diversity
- Moving from stereotypes and anecdotes to cultural dimensions,
     fact-based knowledge and meeting individuals
- Equalizing versus diversity-appreciative strategies
- Communication skills and practical steps

Tool/test that can be useful: Diversity Icebreaker

2. Knowledge of basic cultural dimensions

- Hierarchy versus equalitarianism, individualism versus collectivism, and others
- How do these play out in work life?
- What are the special characteristics of Norwegian work life?

Tool/test that can be useful: Cultural Perpective Questionnaire

. Global Personal Competencies
Perception Management
- Relationship Management
- Self-Management

Tool/test that can be useful: Global Competencies Inventory

4. Knowledge of local culture and customs

- Useful books and bloggs
- Meeting people with inside-experience

Undersider (1): Expat Coaching