In our globalized, interconnected world, colleagues, business partners and customers hail from a diverse range of cultures. Being able to understand them is crucial, and the answer is cross-cultural training, also known as cultural awareness, intercultural or cultural competency training.

Why is this training important, what issues does it address, and what benefits can businesses expect when they invest in cultural awareness training courses? In this article, learn how it can help you grow beyond your borders and successfully operate in a globally inclusive fashion.

Cultural competency equals stronger, more effective teams

Managing relationships between colleagues, superiors and subordinates can be a tricky task in any business, yet most teams are at least bonded by a shared culture, such as common traditions, language, history and media.

Therefore, when an individual first enters a new culture, they can find it difficult to work with their new colleagues. Social norms may differ hugely, increasing the risk of accidental disrespect, misunderstanding and the erosion of trust – resulting in staff attrition and lost investment.

Investing in intercultural skills improves the success of global mobility initiatives.

Intercultural training alleviates these negatives, educating learners on the correct ways in which to interact with their new teams and host-society. This reduces culture shock for staff posted abroad (international assignees), improving the possibility of a successful international assignment, and helps them better communicate with their colleagues, building bonds and increasing respect, trust, and ultimately, workplace success.

For managers posted abroad or working in a foreign country, intercultural training allows a greater understanding of the norms typical of their host-cultures: helping them attract and identify the best local talent to ensure the long-term performance of their team. Retaining talent is aided too – international assignees that have better experiences abroad are more likely to remain with their employer after their assignment concludes and they return home.

Global Mobility in the Age of Diversity

The Role Global Mobility Can Play in Delivering a Diverse Workforce

Become more competitive with intercultural training

Being able to listen to your customers is vital. If you can’t gauge properly what drives them or understand what they think of your offering, you won’t be able to create true value or adapt to criticism.

Cultural awareness training tackles this disconnect by teaching your employees how international markets think and operate, they can develop and market products and services that are properly honed for the target cultures. They can also respond more quickly and effectively to feedback, providing better customer service, gaining customer loyalty and enhancing sales.

The overall result is increased competitiveness. Companies that adopt a cross-cultural knowledge approach have a distinct edge over competitors that have a poor cultural understanding.

Build stronger relationships with cross-cultural business partners

Business partnerships are built on trust and understanding, and even when fluent in a language, there will often be cultural differences between companies and their international affiliates. A poor cultural understanding may affect the clarity of communication in the same way as it might with a co-worker or subordinate, but with far greater impacts – failed negotiations, lost contracts and impeded access to international markets, for instance.

Global business rightly calls for an intercultural approach.

Intercultural training reduces the risk of miscommunication. By undergoing training in their business partner’s culture, staff can spend less time second-guessing cultural norms and instead enjoy a truly productive, respectful relationship built on common ground.

Further reading

Learnlight’s Experts Series: Meet Gabriela Weglowska Our Skills Expert

What Is the ROI of Intercultural Skills?

7 Reasons You Should Build the Intercultural Skills of Your Organization

Cultural training can advance careers

Much like language fluency, cultural training can improve career prospects. Intercultural training courses provide valuable insights into conducting business internationally. This can create exciting international assignment opportunities, improve assignee retention, and prove invaluable for staff in or working towards global leadership roles.

Cultural understanding is key to conducting business effectively. View more information on Learnlight’s cultural awareness training courses or contact our team to find out how we can help your organization grow abroad.