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How to Adapt Training & Learning for a Global Workforce


One of the effects of globalisation is that global brands are typically (and unavoidably) geographically spread.

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 different languages, serving clients and customers across diverse different locations?

Training interventions such as online and webinar training, which are used successfully across the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe (and in English), often fail to provide the impact stakeholders need to be rolled out 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 and localising the training content so that it meets the cultural and linguistic needs of 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, with considerations of the training methodologies, the case studies used and the training exercises employed. 

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 Courses

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.

1. 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 rollout 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.

2. 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 country, culture and learning styles into consideration, including 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.

3. 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 example, in one office may mean absolutely in another due to very different work cultures, communication styles or procedures.

4. 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, are 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’.  

5. Involve local stakeholders

Lastly, make sure you draw upon and use local resources that can help review and shape training content and materials. Having a local eye to 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.

Photo by Capturing the human heart. on Unsplash

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