At many medium-to-large companies, it’s almost impossible to get through a day of work without direct or indirect interaction with colleagues, partners, or other related constituents. Even more, with 82 percent of U.S. companies looking to expand overseas, employees now are expected to engage with coworkers and clients who sometimes are based in different time zones. So with the globalization of business and expected growth in global soft skills training, it is critical that employees understand how their jobs will change, and it is the responsibility of Training managers to set their employees up for success.
For those employees who are new to working with other parts of the world, it is the employer’s responsibility to deliver a clear and consistent message about the company’s identity and values in the face of growth. Soft skills training helps ingrain a company’s culture in employees from the bottom up. The following considerations are critical for companies trying to build, train and maintain a unified team message—no matter how global and far-reaching a company becomes.
Consistency Is Key
An organization doesn’t get its message to stick with employees through one training session at the beginning of their job. Instead, delivering an effective message means consistently staying true to that message in every internal and external communication to employees. In Silicon Valley, it’s a huge trend for employees to take an active role in the development of their culture. Every Google employee knows what it means to be a part of the organization and promotes a culture of innovation, creativity, and curiosity—what they proudly call their “Googliness.” This culture is clearly important to employees, as Glassdoor.com rates Google in the top 10 best places to work, based on employee satisfaction. Companies in other industries should mimic that model by promoting their values in every aspect of their work—from the physical space they create to the technology they offer to the way they treat coworkers and clients.
Most importantly, employees of a company should receive the same values training in all offices around the world—no matter the language it’s in. Even though customs and national cultures vary, companies should promote a united message in every office. No matter where in the world you are, if you walk into an Apple store, you’re going to get practically the same experience—from the casual nature of the employees to the Genius Bar. The native culture should dictate the space. Consistency helps define an organization throughout its locations, and is foremost about the mental space it creates for its employees.
Choose the Right Medium for Communication
Another important part of consistent messaging is choosing the right medium for communication —and taking full advantage of the medium you choose. If your employees can listen to an entire 15-minute training video with their eyes closed and still pull the same message as if they watched it, video isn’t necessary. Whether it’s an infographic, in-person training session, screenshot, or podcast, it’s important to make sure the medium is worth it and conveys your message effectively.
Video is becoming the most important tool to train and develop the workforce, because it has the ability to provide critical, real-time information to help develop employees. According to a 2013 Bersin by Deloitte report, employers have found key reasons to incorporate video into their learning programs, including keeping pace with rapid changes in the business environment (52 percent) and encouraging collaboration and knowledge-sharing (51 percent).
Explain Why Training Matters
If companies are going to invest their time and resources in continual messaging and promoting values, employees have to know why training matters. If a company is based on the principle of integrity, employees need to know why they’re acting with integrity. Why does it matter and how do they bring that principle into their job? How will it affect the company internally and what message does it send out to customers and partner companies? Integrity may be important to a company for several reasons—improving the way coworkers treat each other and their clients, improving long-term success, improving retention, or a number of other benefits. But employees need to know those reasons—not just through hearing them but through witnessing them in action every day.
Overall, as more companies spread into other countries, they should embrace and reinforce their own cultures in a way that:
- Sends a consistent message
- Communicates that message effectively through the right media
- Emphasizes the reasons that message matters to every employee.
Ultimately, as a company grows internationally, its voice gains more reach—and with that reach comes the responsibility of defining, honing, and understanding that voice as much as possible.
Matt Pierce is customer support manager at TechSmith Corp., a software company that provides practical business and academic solutions that change how people communicate and collaborate across devices. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology, Pierce has 10 years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training and user assistance teams for TechSmith, and also has run its visual communication Web show, The Forge, interviewing guests from around the world discussing the use of visuals, video, and technology in education, training, marketing, and more. Teach him something @piercemr.