Beasley Intercultural was recently involved in a review of the quality of cross cultural training in Australia commissioned by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. The research supported our experience in that, to maximise return on investment in intercultural training, the training must be of sufficient duration and tailored to the client environment.

To read a copy of this report click here.

To maximise the effectiveness of cross-cultural training, it is important that it be positioned within the organisational context, followed up appropriately and used as an opportunity to leverage diversity within the client organisation. Following is an overview of our recommended process to ensure maximum traction on your investment in cross-cultural training:

1. Undertake a Needs Analysis

The needs analysis is typically carried out by an intercultural specialist who liaises with key management staff, people in the business line as well as Human Resources (HR) and Learning and Development (L&D) staff. Key areas explored include:

  • What is the business context and what are the outcomes required?
  • What are the current challenges and opportunities being faced when working in these specific cultures, and what is the impact on the business?
  • What is the organisational context?
  • What existing L & D frameworks are in place?
  • What current knowledge and cross-cultural skills do team members have?
  • Is this knowledge shared?
  • What are the gaps?

The Consultant will then discuss the summary of needs analysis findings with the client and advise on the most appropriate and effective learning intervention.

2. Consultant Preparation

The consultant will then prepare a training and/or coaching process which best addresses the gaps discovered during the needs analysis process. To do this, the consultant will analyse and prepare:

  • What cross-cultural information would be of most use in this context?
  • What examples are available from other organisations and our experience to explore these themes?
  • What cross-cultural resources are most appropriate?
  • >What process is best to enable the learning and development of skills and competencies required?

The design and printing of program materials, provision of pre-reading/watching with guiding questions will then occur.

3. Cross-Cultural Program Delivery and/or Coaching

The training or coaching program will then commence. Core themes which are often covered include:

  • What culture is, and the impact on your work
  • The most frequent sources of challenges and how to avoid them
  • Key cross-cultural competencies and what you need to know to be effective
  • Approaches to your core business: what is considered important in different cultural contexts and why
  • Key cultural drivers and their impact
  • Cross-cultural factors depending on needs analysis results. These may include culture-specific topics such as: verbal and non-verbal communication, management, negotiations and conflict resolution

Program delivery and/or coaching may involve one or two accredited Consultants, depending on the business need. Comprehensive participant notes, including further references and resource lists are provided..

4. Key Recommendations and Follow-up

As a result of working closely with the client, it is common to identify opportunities to maximise success in the cross-cultural context. Through providing comprehensive feedback to the client, key recommendations can be made and follow up guaranteed. This process may include:

  • Application of Consultant cross-cultural experience and expertise to create a brief summary for management of recommendations for greater effectiveness when achieving specific outcomes in diverse cultural contexts, based on the needs analysis and responses to program delivery.
  • Summary of all participant feedback and evaluations
  • Follow up call or meeting with client

As a result of undertaking this process, it is possible to ensure training is highly effective and the following outcomes can result:

  • Better understanding of the cultural variances in the way business occurs in different locations
  • Enhanced ability to navigate cultural differences and achieve outcomes
  • Greater effectiveness in regional or global planning
  • More efficient communication when working regionally or globally, reducing misunderstandings as a result of cultural or language issues
  • Improved business strategy through new understanding of intercultural challenges and opportunities