We'll see you at SIETAR USA!

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We're counting down the days! SIETAR USA's 17th Annual Conference is set to begin next week in San Diego, and we can't wait. As the Society for Intercultural Education, Training, and Research, SIETAR is the preeminent organization promoting intercultural learning, engagement, and professional development in the United States. And judging by its stated goals, it is a perfect place for us to gather. According to its website, SIETAR strives to:

  • Enhance awareness of intercultural issues in all interactions
  • Facilitate communication and respect between and among people of different cultures
  • Improve intercultural relations, both domestic and global
  • Encourage the highest standards of ethics and conduct among intercultural specialists
  • Promote the exchange of information, knowledge, and expertise in the intercultural field

It is also a strong member of the global SIETAR network. Last year, we attended SIETAR Polska in Wroclaw, Poland, and Melissa is a previous board member at Young SIETAR. So, it is a homecoming of sorts – but also an opportunity to meet fresh faces and encounter new thinking. 

This year, we’re not only attending, but are looking forward to presenting on a topic that is something of an obsession for us: organizational culture. We’ll be looking at organizations as systems – or, as some have described them, the “civilizations of the workplace,” or “how you get things done.” As with any culture, organizations have values, styles of communicating, languages, power and group dynamics, and ways of making decisions. They also face pressures and forces such as regulation, shareholder expectations, human resources, public relations, and shifts in their industry. Another, often overlooked element, is the lived experience of being in the organization – the history and collective memory of what has happened in the past, the prevalence of trust and fear, and the influence of hidden agendas. And finally, we have gaps between espoused and enacted values – in other words, how the organization see itself (or aspires to be) versus the way it actually operates. 

In other words, organizational culture is a complex system of expectations, incentives, and ways of doing things in the workplace. When a client wants to address a cultural challenge, or make a cultural change, we are mindful of all of these factors, and we engage in critical conversations to make sure that we understand these many facets, and that our client is aware of them, too. 

At this year’s SIETAR USA conference, we’ll be sharing this perspective with new professionals in the intercultural field through our interactive workshop, Reality Check: Dealing with Organizations as They Really Are. We’re excited to pass along our expertise and impart our lessons learned, and to help ensure that when our colleagues go to organizations, they do so in productive, focused, impactful ways. 

If you can’t join us at SIETAR, please reach out here so can get acquainted. We help organizations go from cultural frustration to transformation, and we also help intercultural professionals do this better. Whatever perspective you’re coming from, we’re eager to work with you!