Using the Six Levels of Culture Model in Managing Diverse Teams


The Six Levels of Culture are:

National/Societal: This level deals with awareness of cultural dynamics and patterns by nationality. It is particularly relevant for (a) entering a new market for product, service, and/or talent (b) cross-border division of labor and (c) international outsourcing relationships.

Organizational Culture: This level focuses on the experience of cultural dynamics in an organization. This is especially relevant for global organizations and those involved in mergers and acquisitions.

Identity Group Culture: This level of culture includes gender, generation, ethnicity, religious affiliation and other social groups and is particularly relevant for workforce diversity and talent management concerns.

Functional Culture: This level addresses cross-functional effectiveness, based on the cultures created by specific business units or departments. For example, the IT or Sales Department has cultural preferences that differ from those of the R&D and Finance departments. Every functional department may have developed its distinct preferences.

Team Culture: This level of culture becomes apparent when teams develop a distinct identity and culture. To effectively build teams in a global and matrixed organization, an understanding of how to collaborate in complex and dynamic situations is essential.

Individual Culture: This is the level at which the "building blocks" of culture are present, in both intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics. An understanding of this level is important for successfully addressing the concerns at any level of culture.

Most leaders are aware of team diversity but very often require a reminder of the impact of diversity on specific projects or on the business overall. Reviewing the Six Levels of Culture Model can remind them of the various aspects of culture that can impact diverse teams.