4 Keys to Cross-Cultural Training

Some time ago, I watched a movie about an American guy who traveled to India for business. His job was to train people in customer service in the new division in India. He arrived in India during the summer months wearing a suit and tie.  A driver whose job was to take the American guy to his new home greeted him at the airport. He had no knowledge of what to expect upon his arrival. Needless to say, he soon sweated out his suit. After the driver drove him to his new home. The American man immediately purchased a drink from a street vendor. He was sick for the next few days. No one told him not to eat the food since his body needed time to adjust to the food in the new culture. In the office, he learned his way of doing business didn’t always work with his Indian co-workers. However, over the course of his time there, the American gained a more collaborative approach to working with his colleagues. His attire relaxed, his approach to employee morale shifted, and he adapted to their culture. Ultimately, his experience in this environment changed his life, for the better.


The fictional company in the movie did a poor job of training everyone in preparation for the changes to come. The American employee traveled to India and was expected to perform a task, but he was sadly ill-equipped from a cultural perspective. Yes, he may have possessed the technical skills needed for the job, but without the ability to communicate and collaborate with other cultures, frustration and ultimately failure will result.


As more companies expand into the global market. The demand for cross-cultural training will continue to grow.  At every level in a global organization, employees are required to connect with colleagues, customers, and vendors from other cultures. All global organizations should include cross-cultural training to help employees gain cultural competency skills needed for effective collaboration and to prepare employees for expat assignments in other countries.  As companies invest more in cross-cultural training, executives must be strategic in their efforts to develop cultural competency as an organizational core value. When preparing for a cross-cultural training, consider the following:


  1. Cultural considerations should be woven into decisions about motivating people, structuring projects, and developing business strategy.


  1. Cross-cultural training for expat employees working outside of their home country should include scenarios that mimic real life experiences where they will collaborate and work with colleagues from other cultures.


  1. Cross-cultural training should create more self-awareness. In other words, attendees should also leave the training knowing more about themselves, their cultures, their personal preference, and their ability to adapt.


  1. Training modules should meet the needs of all who are involved. Refer to Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions and incorporate key learnings to guide the instructional design. For example, one culture may thrive off group settings more while another culture is more interested in working individuals. Create modules with a mixture of activities that address the needs of both cultures by including group activities with clear and concise directions.


How Can Naris Communication Help?


Naris Communications offers a self-paced Cultural Competency course designed using scientific-based documents by industry leaders.  A leading expert in effective educational communications and change management, Naris Communications is a full-service consultancy that supports in organizational transformation projects. In addition to consulting, we provide leadership and other soft-skills training solutions that support the train-the-trainer approach to organizational knowledge transfer. Visit our website at nariscommunications.com to learn more about how to enroll in our Cultural Competency Course.

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