High literacy, low unemployment, great location, strong economy: The Czech Republic has a positive story to tell all who are interested in doing business there.
Young Americans have flocked to this country for years, attracted by its cosmopolitan and exciting atmosphere. The Czech Republic is a country of culture and sophistication. Opera, dance, literature, film, drama, and art are all available to its citizens and visitors.
With a population of more than 10.6 million, the Czech Republic has been a leader and model to its neighbors in Europe. It has been able to make the transition from a communist system to a capitalist one in record time. A great benefit for organizations that want to do business in the Czech Republic is that it is part of the European Union, and can do business with its member states with no barriers. The Czech Republic enjoys a perfect location for business. It borders Germany, the wealthiest country in Europe. It also shares a border with Austria, Poland, and Slovakia. Its location gives it the opportunity to export products to countries that have a high standard of living. Although Czech citizens have the highest per capita income of all countries in Eastern Europe, it is still low by Western standards.
The Czech Republic is famous for its prowess in manufacturing heavy equipment, including machinery and automobiles. A growth opportunity for this country would be to teach its workforce to develop technological products such as computers. A continued focus on developing and exporting higher-value products is key to the growth and success of the Czech economy. Its workforce requires training to develop the skills needed to upgrade its economy and the products it exports.
THE STATE OF TRAINING
Education is valued in this country. The literacy rate is an amazing 99 percent. Czech citizens are eager to learn. But training is still a fairly new concept in this country. Trainers need to “sell” why training can help Czechs prosper in the workforce.
Most training programs in this country are short and focused. Programs that run two days to a week are popular. The most requested topics are: management, customer service, presentation skills, sales and marketing, and technical training. Training is most commonly held in the capital of Prague or in the city of Brno, which is located in the South Moravian region of the country. Training typically is conducted in hotel meeting rooms or in an organization’s training room.
English is not the first language in this country. As a result, you should translate all your training materials into the Czech language. You should expect that the majority of your trainees do not speak English. If you decide to train in English, you will need to simplify your vocabulary and monitor your rate of speed when presenting information. Extensive use of visuals can greatly increase comprehension and retention of your material.
The Czech culture is formal, and the trainer is expected to lead during the training session. Age and job title are greatly respected. Do not call trainees by their first name unless asked. Icebreakers and games often are not appreciated. “Small talk” should be minimized when interacting with trainees. Do not talk about religion, politics, or family life if you want to connect with your trainees. Silence is valued in this culture. Your participants will not challenge you. They may be quiet if they disagree with your point of view. It is often felt that challenging the trainer is disrespectful and harmful to the training environment.
This is a group-oriented culture. While individualism is valued in the Czech culture, teaming and collaboration are expected in the training classroom. Do not single a student out for praise or constructive feedback. Always include the group.
Another key point is that the Czech Republic is a homogenous land, so the topic of cultural diversity may not resonate with your trainees. However, employees need to understand that cultural awareness is critical when working with individuals both inside and outside their country.
Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success. For more information, visit www.globaltrainingsystems.com.