Conversari Global’s Mexico-based, British Consultant, Tom Scott shares his personal experience about tailoring standardized global training initiatives to be relevant to local cultures and norms.
How can we tailor a global training solution to local environments? How can we deliver a common service standard across markets while being responsive to local demands? Read on for 3 insights on tailoring global solutions to local environments.
Central offices often argue for a homogenized culture. Local ones push for a heterogeneous one. I see hybridized cultures as the most effective. Late last year, I delivered training for a global firm on three different continents.
The company is a global tech firm and it wanted a standard training experience. It also wanted to still acknowledge local differences. The process was an enjoyable learning experience all round.
Here are three pieces of advice I offer to cross-cultural companies as a result of the experience:
ONE: Why? vs. What for?
When cultures differ, the “why?” question becomes harder to answer. This year I asked a room of people from 12 different countries why they provide customer experience in a particular way. They cited a range of factors born out of their local & national cultures. There was often a disagreement about why one way of speaking to or dealing with a customer was better than another.
When introducing customer service techniques, ensure that employees understand what these are for. This increases motivation to learn different approaches to methods different to those we already know. This is because we are focused more on the result than the reason behind actions.
TWO: Avoid My Way or the Highway
I hear things like, “Americans are better/worse than Germans at this” or, “In France, we are so much better at this”. This comes even from managers. Such observations may carry truth for some, but not for all. There’s a big risk in this. Employees may become part of a homogenized culture, one not suitable for local markets.
There is rarely one perfect way of doing something. A training curriculum may state a preference for delivering customer experience in a particular way. But, there must be openness to participants picking and choosing elements of that. This enables them to acculturate these to their local style.
Allow two cultures to co-exist (hybridization). It’s an effective way to overcome cultural disagreements. Encourage employees to know the cultures in their market, while also understanding those of the global company they are in. They will be more able to adapt depending on the situation they find themselves in. This also aids alignment with customer expectations.
THREE: Avoid the Perfectionism Trap
You can’t learn culture from a book alone. There is no manual with the process one must follow to deliver the best customer experience. Worldwide, I often receive questions in training such as “what is the correct way to do this?” or “could you show me exactly how this should be?”
If I knew the answers to both of those questions, life would be easy. The reality is that global training programs should encourage critical thinking and reasoning. When dealing across borders, so many factors are in play.
It’s impossible to have a manual of fixed processes and procedures. Instead, encourage participants to steer away from looking for one correct way of doing everything. Push them to open their eyes and ears, and to be more observant of what’s going on around them.
Be Global and Local at Once
Companies and trainers should always look to raise awareness of the ambiguity and uncertainty in doing global business. Place participants in challenging scenarios and roleplays in which they have to adapt to what is going on at the moment. Only by doing this can employees learn to respond to challenges in hybrid, dynamic environments.
Global Solutions, Locally Tailored. Interested in knowing how Conversari Global can help your company increase performance and productivity in cross-border business environments? Contact Tom Scott today to discuss how your company can successfully navigate international challenges.