Your colleagues are being asked to work across the barriers of culture, language and geography as never before as markets continue to globalise and technology opens up new international collaboration opportunities. What skills and knowledge should you be helping your teams to acquire to ensure they can take full advantage of the opportunities that result from a more open global economy?
Surely, global cultural fluency becomes an increasing ‘need to have’ rather than a mere ‘nice to have’. Most people have a real hunger to develop the ability to work seamlessly across cultural barriers, but these skills are not built through osmosis – people need structured, practical guidance to help them navigate a culturally complex global commercial environment.
Global Business Culture has been helping clients improve cross-border effectiveness and efficiencies for nearly twenty years and is the ‘go-to’ provider of cultural awareness training and consultancy for many of the world’s leading companies, professional service firms and higher education institutions. Many of our clients have been with us for more than ten years and rely on us for both learning and development input and market entry expertise.
It is a fact of modern commercial life that a great many employees are asked to work across the barriers of culture and language but have never really had any significant exposure to or explanation of the fact that people simply ‘do things differently’ in different counties. A common misconception is that you only really encounter other cultural approaches to business when you go to work overseas for an extended period. This l cannot be the case – every time you pick up the phone or email a colleague in an international office you are dealing with cultural differences.
In most organisations, many people who have cross-border dealings never actually travel internationally. Most people have intermittent contact through email, phone or video conference and the sporadic nature of these interactions make it much more difficult to answer the questions around ‘what is a cultural dilemma and what is merely a business-as-usual problem?’
If we expect employees to work effectively cross-border, we need to train them to do so. Of course, you can learn through experience, but this can be a slow and costly experience. Practical, targeted cultural awareness training interventions can help ramp up awareness and knowledge quickly and give people the confidence to continue to build cultural fluency through their ongoing international business interactions.
International cultural differences can impact on just about every facet of cross-border working:
All of these key issues (and many, many more) are hugely impacted on by culturally differing mindsets and people need high levels of cultural fluency to help them navigate these difficult channels.
Good quality, targeted cultural awareness training can help to quickly ramp up levels of cultural fluency within any organisation.
People often assume that these communication challenges are the result of the fact that people speak different languages and, although this is undoubtedly an issue, it is only part of the problem. The problem is much deeper than that. It is not only that we all speak different languages which creates difficulty, but also that different cultures use language differently. What is considered good communication style in one country is very often considered to be very poor communication style in other.
If people are unaware of these subtle communication style differences, they can often lead to interpersonal problems where people assume colleagues from other countries are being rude or deliberately evasive. A better understanding of the subtleties of cross-border communication can help people work more effectively with colleagues, clients and other stakeholders around the world.
We always encourage clients to ask their employees to gain a better understanding of cross-border communication challenges and the cultural awareness training programmes which we run always contain a section which focuses on this key area.
The cost-benefit ratio of any training programme is always difficult to evaluate but we strongly believe that targeted, effective cultural awareness training programmes delivered by experts in the field can deliver tangible and speedy results.
We develop tailored training programmes to meet your needs and which help you to reach your global goals. We recognise that every organisation and every sector is different. They may need a unique approach – therefore your input is key to the success of any initiatives we develop together. We know how and where culture intersects with business performance and you know where the global pinch-points and knowledge gaps are in your organisation. Working together, we can deliver high-quality training which brings about real mindset and operational change.
Typically, these training programmes run over either half-day or a full day and are designed to cover a wide range of business-related topics such as different meeting styles, attitudes to contracts, decision-making processes and cross-border communication.
The courses are designed to be intensely practical and of immediate value to delegates in their day-to-day business activities.
These programmes can be extremely beneficial to people working with a major client in a particular country or when interfacing with colleagues in the head office or in a subsidiary company. Many of our clients have found these country-specific courses extremely helpful post-cross-border merger and acquisition activities.
A very popular approach to increasing levels of global fluency within an organisation is to run a series of general cultural awareness training programmes followed by country or region-specific courses. This process allows the development of both awareness and knowledge – the two key elements of global fluency acquisition.
Keith is able to really engage an audience (either large or small) and brings insights and knowledge, coupled with a warm, humorous approach. He can tailor the presentation to meet the needs of a specific organization and has a wealth of commercial experience which helps make the messages he delivers ‘real’.
These training interventions are intensely practical in nature and usually end with a workshop session where the delegates are able to work through the cultural challenges which have been identified during the day so that they can develop action plans for implementation post-training.
We have run function-specific training courses for sales departments, marketing teams, recruitment, HR, Finance and IT.
We are able to work with clients to identify the cultural challenges they are likely to encounter when entering a specific new market and can connect those cultural challenges with such critical issues as market research, choice of company structure, recruitment of key individuals and product fit.
This E-learning programme consists of four modules which cover: an introduction to the impact of cultural differences on cross-border working, international meetings, global communication and relationship-building across the barriers of culture, geography and language.
If you are looking to develop global knowledge and skills within your organisation in a way that will have an immediate, practical impact on your business performance contact us for an initial discussion.