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22 February 2022

What is Cross-Cultural Training and Why is it Important?

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But what is cross-cultural training? Why is it so important? It can be difficult for businesses to know where to start, which is where we come in.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the true importance of cross-cultural training for businesses who want to become more globally aware and competitive, as well as share insight into why cultural understanding is one of the most important career skills.

What is Cross-Cultural Training?

Cross-cultural training is a means of preparing and educating individuals in an organisation for the organisation’s international business operations. Cross-cultural training enhances intercultural communication, awareness and understanding, enhancing business operations.

The main purpose of cross-cultural training is to provide employees with strategies that enable them to conduct business in an environment where no single set of rules or behaviours can be applied, so success can only be achieved through a flexible approach based on situational appropriateness.

Cross-cultural training usually includes specific types of skills, including:

  • Interaction management – enables employees to interact with people from foreign cultures, taking into account their cultural values and customs.
  • Dealing with conflict resolution – learnt through role-play and situational exercises. This is the most common focus of cross-cultural training programs offered by companies that work internationally.
  • Adaptation strategies – teach individuals how to adapt to a foreign culture, whether it is for a short-term trip or for an assignment of several years. The objective of adaptation strategies is learning how to communicate effectively and make oneself understood, how to adapt behaviours and customs, as well as understanding the business practises of the host country.

Why Is Cross-Cultural Training Important in Business?

It is important for employees who are required to work in, or with organisations that operate overseas, to receive cross-cultural training. This will enable them to fully comprehend the cultural differences between themselves and their foreign counterparts. Through appropriate socialisation, they will learn how to adapt behaviours in order to communicate effectively and understand the perspective of individuals from other cultures.

Cross-cultural training is essential for international business as it provides information of the host country’s culture and norms to new entrants, allowing them to understand behaviours and practises in different countries. 

Cross-cultural training ensures effective communication between employees from different regions, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings arising from a lack of understanding of a colleague’s behaviour or misinterpretations of a colleague’s words, gestures or body language.

Cross-cultural training facilitates the integration of an organisation that operates both in local and foreign countries, ensuring employees have a common understanding of, and appreciation for their company values, regardless of region.

Related Reading: The True Importance of Language in Business

Who Can Benefit From Cross-Cultural Training?

Cross-cultural training benefits employers and employees alike.

Employees can benefit from international cross-cultural training as it provides them with the knowledge and skills to handle business transactions in an environment where no single set of rules or behaviours can be applied. As such, successful negotiations require a flexible approach based on situational appropriateness. Employees therefore have a transferable skill they can apply to both home and overseas business activities.

Employers benefit from providing cross-cultural training to employees as it enhances their business operations and enables them to complete foreign transactions with increased ease and efficiency, minimising the potential for misunderstandings that could lead to a loss of revenue or damage a company’s reputation.

Through cross-cultural training, employers can develop in employees an appreciation of, and respect for individuals from different cultures, thereby reducing the likelihood of conflict arising. Employers can also benefit from their employees’ increased understanding of and ability to navigate in a foreign business environment.

Cross-cultural training is particularly beneficial when:

  • An employee is required to move or work abroad on a temporary or permanent basis;
  • An employee must work with colleagues from different cultures;
  • The organisation is expanding its business operations into new regions;
  • An organisation has a diverse workforce.

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9 Key Benefits of Cross-Cultural Training

Improved International Prospects

Companies with employees that are aware of, open to and accepting of differences in culture, will have increased international prospects. The company will be able to attract more highly skilled individuals due to the competitive benefit of hiring people who are culturally sensitive.

Enhanced Employee Retention

Employees at all levels will enjoy working for a company that they feel is diverse, with an appreciation of different cultures. Plus, when companies invest in their employees’ development, job satisfaction also increases. This translates into less employee turnover, which reduces the high costs of hiring and training new employees.

Better Market Insight

Employees who are aware of cultural differences will be able to provide better feedback on the company’s business operations in foreign countries. With this information, management will be more informed on how to improve business. As market insight is key when it comes to strategic planning, the benefits of cross-cultural training go beyond just better market insight.

Enhanced Business Performance

Cultural awareness and appreciation will reduce conflict between individuals from different cultures. This means that there is less chance for misunderstandings to arise as a result of lack of awareness or respect of cultural differences, which minimises business losses due to poor communication.

Increased Productivity and Improved Working Relationships

Employees who better understand cultural differences will have a lower likelihood of miscommunication or misinterpretation of behaviours, as well as being more open to adapting their own behaviours for effective communication. Effective communication and positive working relationships can result in more effective staff morale and increased productivity.

Boosted Bottom Line

Being culturally aware means that employees can more effectively select business partners. An employee’s awareness also means they will be flexible in adapting to different scenarios, which will result in increased profits for the company. More potential customers will feel comfortable engaging in business with the company, due to employees being receptive towards different cultures.

Increased Creativity and Innovation

Employees who understand and respect cultural differences, and also accept their own culture’s limitations when it comes to conducting business abroad, can contribute positively to an organisation’s creative output. This enhances the potential for new ideas and innovative approaches to problem solving, which ultimately leads to improved business performance.

Increased Customer Satisfaction

A company’s employees will be better equipped to provide customers with high-quality customer service if they are culturally aware. This awareness results in an improvement of the customer experience, leading to increased brand loyalty and more positive word-of-mouth referrals.

Improved Staff Morale

A diverse workforce is one that can provide better market insight and access to a wider range of knowledge and skills – leading to greater value for the organisation. This is reflected through improved staff morale, with satisfied employees more likely to feel motivated and happy in their roles.

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Choosing a Cross-Cultural Training Programme For Your Business

There are various different cross-cultural training programmes available in 2022. These courses and seminars vary in their approach and the level of expertise they provide to individuals, but all aim to teach employees about cultural differences and how they can be better utilised in an organisation.

If you’re looking for a way to enhance your business’ performance through increased cultural awareness, SIMON & SIMON offer expert cross-cultural training to businesses across numerous sectors. We also offer accredited Business Language Training in a number of languages that could boost your international potential.

For more information about how SIMON & SIMON can help your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us today and find out how we can help your business succeed.

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What is Cross-Cultural Training and Why is it Important?
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What is Cross-Cultural Training and Why is it Important?
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Great cross-cultural communication and understanding is crucial in today's global market. Not only does it open up new possibilities and opportunities for individuals, but it can provide a major competitive advantage in the workplace by allowing individuals to better manage diverse teams, work more effectively with international colleagues, and encourage harmony between different cultures.
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Simon and Simon International
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