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Global Workforce Development and Training

Would your business be more successful if individuals, teams and divisions of your organization could work more effectively with colleagues from other cultures?

Companies everywhere deliver products and service to their customers using a multi-cultural workforce, whether or not they are global companies. Employees, managers and executives need to be able to work productively with people different from themselves - people who want the same things - safety, security, a good job, a decent wage, and interesting work - but who may have different perspectives on what makes a good manager, on how best to resolve conflict, on what is important in getting the job done or in helping the customer even if it takes a long time.

To be effective across borders, organizations and employees at all levels need to broaden their collective understanding of other cultures and the needs of people from these cultures. (NOTE: It takes several generations before most strong cultural values are eroded, if they are eroded at all.)

Some examples of global workforce development include:

  1. Managers need to know how to motivate and organize people from a variety of cultural backgrounds
  2. Sales people need to know how to build relationships, negotiate and sell across cultures
  3. HRD specialists need to understand how best to develop the capability of employees in countries other than their own.
  4. Employees need to be able to work effectively with a wide variety of types of people
  5. Financial advisors need to understand how differences among cultures impact ethical conduct in their area of responsibility.
  6. Contact center offshorers need to know how to provide effective learning and development in other geographies and cultures on client-specific products and processes while maintaining high quality customer service levels.

Global Workforce Development and Training

Even with the best of intentions, many international companies continue to use training program content that assumes knowledge of the organization's home-culture, or that employs culture-specific metaphors or critical incidents, or that rely on styles of training-delivery that are counter-cultural and therefore counter-productive in many of the cultures in which the training is delivered.


ITAP Learning and Development Capabilities

ITAP designs and delivers cross-cultural and other training programs.  Below are a few samples.  

Off the Shelf Cultural Programs (cost USD$3500/day):

Cross-cultural Communication Courses

  • Communicating Across Cultures
  • Influencing Across Cultures
    Managing Cross-cultural and Virtual Teams
  • Introduction to Cultural Differences (country specific)
    Introduction to Cultural Differences (general)
    Culture and its Impact on HR Practices
  • Managing Your Chinese Employees
    So You Want to be a Manager at ___________
  • Welcome to _________ [insert company name]:Establishing a Global Mindset
  • And other customized topics…

Ethics Courses


Other (cost USD$3200/day):

Behavioral Event Interviewing
Core Skills for Managers
Developing Project Managers
Introduction to Presentation Skills
Leading Effective Meetings
Managing and Leading Remote or Virtual Teams
Performance Improvement for Managers
Presentation Skills Practice (with video)
And more…

Call ITAP for more information.  We can be reached at +1.215.860.5640.

Bespoke Programs:

We also customize programs that are either deep cultural programs (Managing your New Workforce in China  from the US or Presenting to a German Audience) or deep functional programs (Global Finance Leader Development  Offsite).

Other Capabilities

  1. We design and license/sell facilitator guides and participant materials of our cross-culturally appropriate activities to be inserted in existing client programs.
  2. We license our relocation process and materials to organizations that want to take that responsibility in house.
  3. We specialize in call center training: How to provide excellent Customer Service to US American Customers
  4. We localize training programs to make them culture appropriate - Simply transferring existing training programs overseas is not recommended, even in countries where English is commonly spoken (such as India, Canada, the Philippines, and South Africa).
  5. We conduct culture audits on learning and other HR materials to assess the level of appropriateness across cultures
  6. We help strengthen employee commitment to compliance.  Business ethics encompasses the rules, roles, and values that inform ethical conduct. It is the framework for compliance behavior, risk management, business strategy and growth. ITAP understands both the behavioral and systemic implications of business ethics, and offers a variety of services to help you strengthen the ethics in your organization.
  7. We can provide data on the impact that culture has on attitudes towards risk and safety.
  8. We provide cross cultural coaching/individualized learning opportunities for your talent -a specialist who understands cultural differences

 

Training Localization

Overview

Imagine that your company outsourced back office processing or call center functions to India, the Philippines, China or Costa Rica. The vendors now own the hiring process, the induction/orientation process, and the performance management process. The trainers, trainees and managers are contract employees and they do not work for your company. The only thing your company (the client) still owns is the training process and content. How prepared are YOU to offer improvements in training content, methodology and materials to assure that these vendors (who are from other cultures) can meet your company's strategic goals?


Guidelines: An Example - India

It would be difficult enough to be the internal instructional designer supplying company-specific materials and programs to the vendor companies, then complicate that by adding the trainees' cultural background, learning preferences, and knowledge (or lack of knowledge) about the customers they serve. Here is a case example (India) of how ITAP International helped one company find a solution to just this situation.


Step 1: Conduct a Cultural Audit

Assessment of the Indian call center operators' cultural preferences and a Cultural Audit of the training materials identified several areas for attention by Instructional Designers from the client company.

A. Identify an appropriate mix of sources for data gathering. For example, use a representative sample from each of the Indian call centers; in this case there were four centers form which data was gathered.
B. Assess the cultural preferences of the Indian call center agents using the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ In this case the population included Indian call center associates who had been through the US-based training. (This client initially just exported the US training with some India-specific tweaks..)
C. Review the data collected against country averages (in this case US and India) and across the sample populations (e.g., various sites). Look for divergence to identify areas where cultural differences may play a part in the content, methodology, overall approach, and design.


Step 2: Use the cultural analysis to determine what kinds of changes and improvement need to be considered for training redesign.

Table 1: Cultural Analysis - Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ Data

Description

Individualism

Power Distance

Certainty

Achievement

India Call Centers Overall Average

53

61

70

49

Hofstede India Country Average

48

77

40

56

Hofstede USA Country Average

91

40

46

62

In this example, the results from the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ showed a high need for Certainty compared to both the India and USA Hofstede data (see Table 1, numbers highlighted in orange). In high need for Certainty environments, students (and teachers) are most comfortable with structured learning.

Students are likely to:

  • Feel some concerned with getting/having the right answers, learning "the rule."
  • Feel less comfortable in ambiguous situations or where there are only broad guidelines (such as "use your discretion") are offered.

Instructors are likely to:

  • Prefer clear requirements and precise instructions (do this, say that).

 

Table 2: Cultural Analysis - Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ Data

Description

Individualism

Power Distance

Certainty

Achievement

India Call Centers Overall Average

53

61

70

49

Hofstede India Country Average

48

77

40

56

Hofstede USA Country Average

91

40

46

62

In this example, the Indian associates scored high on the Power Distance dimension (see Table 2, numbers highlighted in yellow). In higher Power Distance environments both students and teachers are more comfortable with the instructor owning the knowledge. In these cultures, it is likely that:

  • Teachers are expected to take the initiatives in class (not students).
  • Students expect teachers to be the experts and know the answers. In work situations, employees expect tasks to be clearly defined. Programs or exercises that are not specific about what is the correct answer (such as a discussion without a specific debrief of the "answer"), appear to be poorly designed. They confuse the students and put the instructors in a position of seeming "not to know."
  • Workers expect to be closely supervised.
  • Employees are less likely to suggest solutions for problems unless directly asked/told.

The ramifications for instruction of both a higher need for Certainty and higher Power Distance is that in order to help the students learn how to handle different situations than they are used to:

 

  • The instruction to the students will need to be as detailed, structured and precise.
  • Instructors need to know what they should do and have precise instruction as to what to do (for example if the system goes down - what does an instructor do?). They need to have access to all the materials and information to be able to teach the students and answer all their questions.
  • Students need to by kept informed as to the structure of the program (what fits where).
  • Learning needs to go from the general (here is what happens in most cases) to the exceptions (in these kinds of cases you need to do something different).
  • The instructional design should be detailed, structured and precise, both for the students, to help them learn to be as comfortable and knowledgeable as possible in interactions with customers, and for the instructor, so that he/she will have the necessary materials and information to work with the learners and answer their questions.

 


Step 3: Identify areas that need a more balanced cultural perspective.

In this case, the changes that were made to to the redesigned training materials included:

  • Inclusion of graphics that are more culturally appropriate and an increased number of graphics and visuals
  • Creation of a template for all the redesigned materials to ensure consistency and the desired structure
    Increased use of examples and cultural comparisons, and inclusion of more context for terminology and concepts with which the students may not be culturally familiar
  • Increased emphasis on demonstration and practice of the soft skills so students can become more effective and efficient using what they learned.

Global Team Leader and Team Development

Why is the support of global teams so important?

As companies strive to improve their global reach, two factors may be critical to that goal: the role of regionally or globally distributed teams, and the role of human processes in improving performance on these teams. For global teams to be competitive, they must reach excellence in at least two specific areas:

  1. Technical Expertise: Research, finance, sales, marketing, project management, general management, and
  2. Human Process Expertise: Establishing clear goals, virtual communications, cross-cultural communications, problem solving, resolving differences.

Significant corporate HR efforts focus on hiring and compensating the best technically qualified people for these global teams or for global divisions. It is sometimes assumed that technical expertise is all that matters, although common sense tells us that if two equally technically qualified employees produce widely different quality or quantity of work, then other factors must play a role. When companies invest in improving the human process capabilities of teams, the result can become a competitive advantage.

Global teams, because they represent significant corporate investment, require proactive attention and continued support. Such support can provide early detection of and response to looming obstacles in order to prevent them from hindering the team's productivity and effectiveness. Global team leader development, combined with focused team training, doubly improves the team. Both are provided through ITAP's global team consulting process. ITAP also provides the GTPQ for internal consultants - ask about licensing.


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