The world has become one global village, thanks to technology. In this regard, a company can have offices and business associates in different countries across the globe, and with this comes the need for staff to travel internationally or even relocate to a new country.
Though technology has brought people together, the cultural differences gap has not narrowed, hence the need for cross-cultural training programs. Such programs prepare to relocate employees of what to expect, how to sail through cultural differences, and to remain optimally productive. So, how do you create an effective cross-cultural training program? Here are some guidelines.
What to Include
An effective cross-cultural training program should seek to bridge the unseen difference between one’s expectations and reality. It is important to dig deeper into the cultures and way of life in order to decipher the nitty-gritty that can affect employees’ motivation to perform. Below are some of the areas to look into.
1. Communication Methods
Many people think that knowing the peoples’ language is enough for effective communication but this is far from the truth. Knowing the intention behind the words used is what makes communication effective. A “Yes” in one culture could mean a totally different thing in another culture. Effective communication is important in building business relationships, which is why a cross-cultural training program should be able to point out such differences.
2. Management Styles
Management and supervision styles vary from culture to culture. You may find that junior employees in one culture are allowed to contribute their views to their seniors, while in another culture such is unheard of. An effective cross-cultural training program should be able to tell a person how much he can contribute his ideas in the workplace and at which stage, depending on the culture of the people.
3. Hierarchy Perception
In some cultures such in the United States, juniors address their seniors by their first name. While this may be normal for them, it might not be the case in another culture. It is important for cross-cultural training programs to outline how different cultures perceive hierarchies, the lines not to cross and how to behave before the management.
4. Relationships Expectations
Forging interpersonal relationships in the business environment also differs from culture to culture. There are cultures that prefer building personal trust first before giving a contract while there are others that respect the vice versa. An effective cross-cultural training program should be able to guide trainees on where to start in building such relationships.
Other matters to highlight for an effective cross-cultural training program are etiquette, activities, dos and don’ts, customs and history. These elements contribute so much to how easily one adjusts to the place, which directly influences output. The program should also offer strategies that can help cope with culture shock and unexpected realities.
When preparing a cross-cultural training program, you should put in mind the intended audience. For the program to be effective, the audience should be able to understand, thus you should prepare and deliver in the language that each participant understands. English seems to be a global language, but you should not assume that everyone is fluent in it. Remember writing, reading, speaking, and listening are different skills and even a native could be poor in one of them.
For you to effectively train cross-cultural employees, it is important that you engage in professional translation services. A professional translator is knowledgeable in different languages and will help in translating to those employees who can’t understand your language of presentation.
Learning about a different culture is not something one can learn in an instant. It is important to give the employees time to digest and internalize what they have learned. Encourage them to ask questions where they feel lost. You can prepare handouts detailing the content in simple, understandable text for employees to refer even after the training.
The intention of a cross-cultural training program is to help an employee be able to drive results internationally just as he can in his native culture. When created and presented with the above considerations, you can be sure that it will be an effective tool. It should however not be reserved for people working away from their home countries, even those working in their countries need so they are able to interact with those from other countries.
Peter Palladino is is a business advisor for several companies in the New York region, and also provides Press Release Translation and PR consulting, providing specialized localization and translation services for companies in need. Peter is interested in augmentative communication, capacity building, and enhancing the quality of interaction with customers.