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Busting 8 myths of people development that can cause more harm than good.

Companies are passionate about upgrading their technology and streamlining their process, yet there has hardly
been any breakthrough in terms of understanding and leveraging diversity in the workforce. Are they using the
same old tools because that’s what they have always used or because they work? What costs more in the long
run—investing in the latest solutions or sticking to the same old methods? Here are some recent numbers: •
89% of hiring failures within the first 18 months are due to a poor cultural fit. Only 11% are due to lack of
skills. (LeadershipIQ, 2016) • 75% of employees leave managers not companies. (Gallup, 2016) • 71% of
surveyed organisations aspire to have an inclusive culture, but only 12% have achieved this objective.
(Deloitte, 2016) • 89% of CEOs know addressing leadership, culture, and engagement are the most urgent
priorities. (Deloitte, 2016) Business is about people and their mindset. Not knowing what we consider common
sense before trying to figure out what common sense is to someone else can cause a business to fail. Cultural
intelligence is an increasingly well-known topic but a less clearly defined concept. Most people think about
statistically average national differences and workshops run by trainers who used to live abroad or academics
who have written books about it. This is not a sarcastic comment, I qualify for both categories, too, and this
section of the book is about sharing my insight about why that is not enough and why current people solutions
do not deliver better results than the above-mentioned ones. Myth #1 – Outdated solutions = outstanding
results Most intercultural models were created in the 1970s and 1980s based on the answers of people who
grew up without the Internet, the European Union, or cheap flights. We do love our great grandparents, but we
don’t think or work like them. The world has changed a lot in the last thirty to forty years, and we face very
different challenges that require new, updated solutions. Myth #2 – Intercultural = international The most
popular intercultural models are about nationalities and their values. Some touch on generational differences or
measure how sensitive people are in terms of noticing cultural differences. They are all useful tools, no doubt
about it. They are perfect for the purpose they were designed for at that time. But the fact is, 80% of cultural
differences exist within countries, not between them (HBR, 2016). That’s why we experience the ‘millennial
issue’ or the gender gap. Myth #3 – Statistically average country = statistically average individual Last-century
intercultural models focused on the average results of a group, but what are the chances we’ll meet a
statistically average individual? Myth #4 – More visible diversity = better results Most companies focus on the
superficial layer of diversity (nationality, gender, generation, etc.), the layer with no proven benefit
(Management International Review, 2016). What makes a real difference is cognitive diversity, the way
someone thinks and processes information based on a different set of values, beliefs and experiences. There
might be some overlap between the two layers, but more often than not there isn’t, and we have plenty of case
studies to prove that. Diversity is cool until somebody disagrees with us. Myth #5 – Incomplete approach =
complete results Psychometric models explain how different personality types tend to behave if they are not
influenced by anyone or anything around them. There are not many situations like this, if any at all. Talking
about personality types without ICQ is just half the complete package. Myth #6 – More information = better
skills Statistics show we forget over 95% of what we learn within a month if we take notes. Retention is even
less if we do not follow up. The key is repetitive learning. Training in fewer techniques again and again so they
become skills means we can focus on the task at hand instead of concentrating on the tool itself. Theory
without practice is like a tea bag without hot water. The potential is there, we crave the end result, but it is not
going to happen just like that. Myth #7 - Golden Rule = connection with others Do you believe in the Golden
Rule? In treating people the way you want to be treated? When I ask this question during workshops, most
people say yes. Me too. At least, from an ethical perspective I do. Otherwise it seems selfish. It would imply
everybody is like us, they are motivated by what drives us, they even like whatever delights us. Myth #8 -
Smart individuals = high-performing team When companies put smart people in teams, they are hoping to
create synergy by combining their skills; in reality, those differences turn into liability. On average, 79% of
performance is lost because of clashing values and personalities combined with poor leadership. All three
reasons stem from the same source: a lack of understanding of the blueprint of why people think and behave
differently. Cultural differences are like corporate diabetes, the silent killer. The symptoms are invisible for a
long time, and when they become apparent, it might be too late. Leaders tend to believe they do not need
intercultural training if they don’t have an international team. The fact is, they do. If they employ or serve
more than one person, they are multicultural already even if they are not multinational. On the other hand, a
typical country-specific training would not really benefit them nor would a personality-based one explain the
dynamics of individual and group mindset.