Choosing a cross culture training consultant
When you are looking to appoint a cross culture training consultant there are several factors you need to consider to make the most best choice.
First – what kind of training do you need? If you are preparing an expatriate to go to a specific culture, you will need someone with recent relevant experience of that particular culture.
You will probably be focusing on the specifics of work and more general living in the culture and the participant will usually want to know the practicalities of daily life even more than the subtleties of doing business in that culture.
In this market, be careful of language school teachers who have realized that there is more money to be earned as a cross culture trainer than as a language teacher. Sometimes they have good experiences of everyday life issues but are rarely strong on both this and how to do business in a culture. Check that they have actually worked in the country you are interested in and that they are able to process this cross culture working experience in a way they can transfer to others
Beware of the cross culture trainer who does not know that specific culture but “knows the region” and can generalize. For expatriates you are looking for recent actual experience of the culture, not cross cultural generalizations.
When working in this field be sure to “cherry pick” your cross culture trainer, look for specific individuals with the knowledge you need – this may mean you need a range of cross cultural suppliers to meet all your needs. Just because a training supplier is good at one culture does not necessarily mean they are experts in all cultures.
At Global Integration, we have chosen to stay away from this part of the cross culture training market because of the difficulty in providing a consistent high quality service covering a wide range of cultures. Our best advice is to cherry pick and only work with specific individuals you have selected and validated.
If you are looking for cross culture training for a manager or a group of people who are working regularly across a number of cultures (which is becoming the norm today) then your selection criteria would be very different.
For people who are managing of working in a cross cultural environment with a range of cultures, going into great detail on the specifics is not only unnecessary but positively harmful – people never remember all the details and lists of do’s and taboos can make for boring training – you would be better off buying a cross cultural management book for this kind of knowledge.
They also do not need to know how to live in the culture, just how to function whilst travelling and doing business.
If you are looking for this type of cross culture trainer, we advise that you check they have
- Personal experience of working with other cultures in a modern business setting.
- A systematic model and process for training train people, not just lots of stories.
- The ability to deliver training that develops skills and transfer tools that participants can use for themselves.
- If you are training business people, try to choose a cross culture trainer who has managed people in an international setting themselves – it is hard to have credibility with practical line managers if you have no real commercial experience.
- The skills and experience to facilitate different learning styles in a training program when participants are from a range of different cultures.
The biggest problem we see with cross culture training is trainers who tell lots of entertaining culture stories – participants are entertained and engaged by the stories, they often go home enthusiastic, but then it dawns on them that they have not developed any skills in the training that they can use on their next international business trip.
Stories are fun but it is skills that count, and often the cross culture trainers with the best stories are so keen to share them that they do not focus enough on the participants.
Finally – check whether the cross culture training supplier you use is using their own staff who are experienced in delivering cross cultural training or relying on a loose network of associates. If they use associates find out how often the individual they are proposing delivers cross culture training and make sure you talk to them yourself before the training.
Choosing a trainer who matches your objective, has practical management experience, fits your corporate culture and builds real skills in your participants can take time but it is the only way to build a real capability in your people.
We are not the right people for country specific training or expatriate preparation, but if you want to build real business management skills for people leading or working with a number of cultures then give us a call or take a look at some of the 300 major multinationals we already work with.
We are real specialists so we only take on training work where it fits our niche and we know we can really add value. If we cannot, we will try to point you at the right people to help.
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