Aspects of Intercultural Training

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Introduction

Expatriate training is expected to provide employees and their families with relevant intercultural preparation, which can result in good performance once workers are settled within new environments. This form of training can help employees understand the impact of their unique cultural factors in both social and business interactions (Witham et al., 2000). It will offer to acquire important information about the host county while help nurturing new skills needed to adjust to the new way of living and working. Furthermore, research has shown that the difference between successful and unsuccessful assignments overseas can be related to expatriate training (Zhou, 2020). In the study by Zhou (2020) conducted in the context of Asian multinational corporations, there is a need for organizations to place greater emphasis on expatriate training programs. Among the reasons expats fail within new environments is the limited capacity to adapt, which can be fostered with the help of formal intercultural training, which many companies tend to overlook.

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Besides, instances when expatriate training fails to meet the expectations of organizations often show that the education targeted at expats is often irrelevant to employees’ work performance or adjustment (Kostal et al., 2017). As suggested by Albrecht et al. (2018), expatriate pre-departure training may often be inadequately conceived and poorly designed to meet the specific needs of workers and their experiences in newly assigned countries. Therefore, besides establishing a cohesive framework to facilitate expat training, it is imperative that organizations implement the type of training that is appropriate to their specific employees and their unique environments.

Importance of Intercultural Competency at Organizations

Intercultural competence represents a valuable asset within the context of the highly globalized organizational framework. It has now become the norm for people within companies to interact with individuals from other cultures and countries whose beliefs, experiences, and values are different. HRs have now been placing increased attention on forming the most diverse and multi-dimensional teams that can provide the often growing range and depth of cultural experiences (Ntabeni Bhebe, 2019). This will influence the various skills and competencies in the workplace along with policies and systems as well as the strategies which companies use to train and develop their leaders (Minkov, 2018). Organizations are expected to use cultural competence to adapt to the ever-changing global environments and make inclusive decisions in various aspects of performance.

It is also vital to consider the fact that a large majority of cultures undergo continuous changes because of the shifts in their social, economic, political, and technological environments, which makes intercultural interactions complex. The changes associated with globalization have made it crucial to analyze the previous approaches toward understanding culture, such as the Hofstede Model. The model is considered outdated because it makes vast generalizations regarding cultural dimensions, such as the individual versus collective or high risk versus lower risk (Minkov, 2018). In today’s organizational environment, it takes much more than differentiating between cultural characteristics. Thus, intercultural competence is important because it combines the necessary knowledge about a specific culture with positive attitudes such as openness, the readiness to learn and interact, as well as exhibiting tolerance and empathy. It also involves individuals’ capacity to have bias-free perspectives on different situations without passing judgments.

For assessing cultural competence, it is possible for organizations to implement several tools. For instance, the Global Perspectives Inventory allows having a self-reported way for measuring individuals’ global perspectives as to the interpersonal, intrapersonal, or cognitive dimensions of worldwide development and learning. It will also allow to capture worker’s views on various communities and different levels of involvement in selected processes and activities. Besides, there is also an opportunity to use the Intercultural Development Inventory, which uses a Likert scale-based survey that ranks respondents based on their developmental stages, ranging from denial to integration. The denial stage is characterized by the overall negative attitude toward the multicultural nature of society. Acceptance is a developmental stage of cultural competence that suggests that it is appropriate that individuals from different cultures should not necessarily have the same goals and values. Integration is the highest form of development characterized by the acceptance of various cultures and the ability to embed oneself within the multicultural context. Both inventories can be used to offer a comprehensive look at the cultural competence of workers.

Within the context of training, it is necessary to facilitate a multicultural workforce for leveraging differences for the benefit of separate workers and the organization as a whole. Cultural awareness training is a good way for creating an inviting work environment that enables every worker to feel accepted, comfortable, empowered, and confident in connecting with other people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Cultural diversity training can be introduced into the educational program to provide managers and their employees with the necessary skills for creating work environments that can be accommodative to individuals from various backgrounds. By doing so, a business can reach its full potential of performance by embracing the advantages offered by the diverse workforce. Based on the context and the needs of workers, the training can occur in the form of cultural consulting, assessments, face-to-face coaching, and online instruction.

Proposal for a 5-day Training Program

The training course is intended to provide the employees of an organization with a set of skills and knowledge to facilitate diversity and acceptance. The following table reflects a proposal for 5-day training to improve workers’ intercultural competence:

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Day Topic Rationale
1 Introduction into intercultural competence issues, its importance, and next steps to be taken in the training program. It is important that workers are introduced to the targeted issue of training and understand the need behind the needed change. The introductory step will also involve the review of intercultural competence assessment results and the identification of key problems within the organization.
2 Exploration of multicultural competence, its importance and effects for organizations. This part of the training process involves exploring the various ways in which multicultural competence influences performance and how it can be implemented both individually and organization-wide.
3 Case study exploration. It is necessary to give employees examples of how high-profile organizations implement multicultural training and expat preparation.
4 Exchange of experiences/perspectives. At this stage, based on the newly-acquired knowledge and passed experience, a round-table workshop will be held. This is necessary to facilitate a transparent exchange of ideas between workers who are likely to have diverse opinions.
5 Review of the training outcomes and the progress made over the program. The final day of the training program will be dedicated to summarizing and reviewing its results. It is necessary to determine whether the program has benefited workers to the expected extent, possibly through an anonymous survey.

References

Albrecht, A-G., Ones, D., & Sinangil. (2018). The SAGE handbook of industrial, work and organizational psychology. SAGE Publications.

Kostal, J., Albrecht, A-G., Dilchert, S., Deller, J., Ones, D., & Paulus, F. (2017). Expatriate training: Success factors in private and public domains. In H. Rüger et al. (Eds.) Managing expatriates (pp. 209-224). Columbia University Press.

Minkov, M. (2017). A revision of Hofstede’s model of national culture: old evidence and new data from 56 countries. Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, 25(2).

Ntabeni Bhebe, F. (2019). Global human resources management. Society Publishing.

Witham, L., Jones, K., & Pan, A. (2000). Expatriate predeparture training, onsite consulting, and repatriation training. Web.

Zhou, Y. (2020). Expatriate training in Asian multinational corporations. Journal of Advanced Management Science, 8(3), 81-88.

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BusinessEssay. 2022. "Aspects of Intercultural Training." July 25, 2022. https://business-essay.com/aspects-of-intercultural-training/.

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