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Adapting Training & Learning for a Global Workforce

Adapting Training & Learning for a Global Workforce

One of the effects of globalisation is that global brands and companies with international ambitions must be spread themselves geographically.

Employing a global workforce is essential in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace.

Training a global workforce however comes with its challenges.

How do you consistently deliver training and learning support to employees from many different countries, speaking many different languages, serving clients and customers in many different locations?

Training interventions such as courses, webinars and DVDs which are used successfully at HQ, usually in the US or Europe (and in English), no longer provide the impact stakeholders need when used in foreign locations. They tend to get “lost in translation” linguistically, culturally and pedagogically.

Learning, training and development stakeholders soon realise that when it comes to rolling out training globally it can only be done through adapting the training according to the learners.

This goes way beyond simply translating course content into different languages or providing foreign language trainers.

Learning interventions must be able to take a core message or learning point and ‘translate’ these to the target audience in every way, from how the training is delivered to the case studies used to the exercises employed to the style of the trainer.

Globally successful training must be relevant to learners and aligned with both organisational and personal learning needs.


Tips on Translation, Localization and Adaptations of Training

If you need help localizing training courses, then come speak to us. In the meantime, here are some pointers for those who might be responsible for overseeing the development of global training courses or content.


Know your audience

It might sound obvious, but many are guilty of not really understanding who their global employees are and what they may need. Before considering any sort of roll out internationally you need to know who you will be training – where are they, what language(s) do they speak, what are their actual training needs? Take time to identify all the different needs and wants of your potential audience.


Explore delivery options

Be open minded when it comes to how you deliver training and learning interventions in foreign locations. Not everyone learns well sat down in front of a slide show. Take not only the country, culture and their particular learning styles into consideration, but also their roles and what kind of training style is going to get the best out of people. In some countries a high-energy idea-fuelled workshop may be great, in other places it would be viewed as weird.


Make sure content is relevant

Your training content needs to be relevant in as many ways as possible for the learner. Employees in one location may not necessarily have exactly the same roles as their international counterparts or work in the same ways. Case studies, for examples, in one office may mean absolutely in another due to very different work cultures, communication styles or procedures.


Localize the content

Make sure your language is presented in the right way. For example, a British audience will always pick-up on US-English in courses and vice-versa. The result is usually a feeling that the course isn’t quite meant for them and they, the learner, is having to adapt to the course as opposed to vice-versa. Watch your spellings, check the images you use, take note of the meaning of different colours in other cultures and overall just make sure the content looks and feels as though it comes from ‘home’.  


Involve local stakeholders

Lastly, make sure you draw upon and use local resources who can help review and shape training content and materials. Having a local eye sense-check your ideas and approach can be a massive help in avoiding basic errors and ensuring you adapt the training to suit their needs.

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