Cross-Cultural Sensitization Training: 5 Steps To Conducting An Effective One

Cross-Cultural Sensitization Training: 5 Steps To Conducting An Effective One

The Facts

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Cross-cultural sensitization training is an employee education program that creates awareness between individuals where a collective cultural framework lacks or does not get acknowledged.

If you work for a multinational corporation, you must be well aware of the dangers of communication getting lost in translation. These risks could arise due to diversity in decorum, conversational skills, or even how feedback gets accepted rather than a language barrier. When your company spans multiple countries and cultures, it adds a new layer of complexity to your working environment, including employee training. 

Cross-cultural Sensitization Training - An Overview

Employees who work for large organizations receive cross-cultural training, which primarily admits the differences between cultures through guidance. Also, while cross-cultural training may appear unnecessary at first, especially if you're adjusting and reworking your work style, this training has never been more essential because motivated workplaces eliminate the barriers that previously divided your team. 

Therefore, you must never forget to understand the cultural implications of your international organization as you brainstorm new ways to keep your team engaged and connected. Cross-cultural training enables employees to feel seen, understood, and empathic toward their coworkers regardless of their location. 

Why Is Cross-Cultural Training Needed?

Why should you invest in cross-cultural training? You expect the same level of performance from your employees regardless of where they're from or what society they define with, right? While this is true, various ethnicities approach function in diverse ways, leading to employees becoming frustrated or stressed if cultural norms are not respected.

Taking some time to help coworkers understand each other can make all the difference when it comes to specifying expectations and forming bonds between employees of various cultures. Still not persuaded? Here are some of the problems that cross-cultural training can help your company solve:

  • Taking Care of Communication Issues

When there's an issue, some organizational communities tend to focus on the good, while others provide negative feedback. Similarly, some cultures favor softening the impact with their language, whereas others are direct and blunt. 

To be clear, various forms of communication have value. Nonetheless, assisting coworkers in understanding cultural communication differences can aid them in adapting, ensuring clarity, and reducing hurt feelings.

  • Etiquette and Policy in the Organization

Some organizations have distinct business practices. Cross-cultural training helps colleagues learn more about their peers and communicate with them, whether tackling a professional handshake or subjects that should remain prevented in casual conversation.

  • Getting Rid of Stereotypes

In the past, cross-cultural training intended to perpetuate stereotypes by constructing and strengthening stereotypes. Stereotypes such as "all German experts are extremely emotionless," or "all Japanese employees are incredibly polite" aren't always harmful, but they aren't always helpful. 

By providing context, using real-life examples, and reminding employees that their coworkers are individuals regardless of ethnicity, good cross-cultural training can help dispel stereotypes.

  • Getting Used to Working in a Global Workforce

Rapid expansion into a global workforce can leave staff unsure of ways to continue friendships with their workmates in some institutions. Cross-cultural training provides employees with the tools and practices they need to quickly and decisively acclimate to their changing workforce.

Getting Started with Cross-cultural Sensitization Training 

Do you want to address your company's cultural issues but are unsure where to begin? After all, you've perhaps executed a slew of new policies and interventions, and you don't want cross-cultural instruction to get lost along the way and have no real impact. It is where cross-cultural sensitization training comes in. 

Below are the top steps that can assist you in determining how to prepare your cross-cultural training and how to deliver it for your employees.

1. Take a Strategic Approach

With all the new ways of performing jobs discovered over the past year, your employees might already feel overworked. A comprehensive campaign to promote cross-cultural sensitivity training allows employees to understand why it is crucial to move forward.

Also, it is better to emphasize the benefits to them like improved communication, better feedback, and more compassion for their coworkers. Don't start training until you've set the tone and gotten employees (and executives) on board.

2. Be Sincere

It's impossible to produce entirely honest cross-cultural training without having forces on the ground across all places, departments, and silos. Instead, as you spot possible problems and build out your classes, feedback will be your primary source of information. 

Offering anonymous surveys is an excellent place to start because it allows employees to express themselves about cultural issues they've encountered. After you gather comments, you can better determine which issues are most concerning to your employees, allowing you to develop hyper-specific solutions that will benefit both your team members and your company as a whole.

3. Tell a Tale

It's one of the simplest and most effective methods for establishing emotional bonds between the beginner and the material. You already have a story in motion with cross-cultural training; use it to your benefit so students can see themselves in the role of the protagonist. 

Tell a story about how it feels to get lost in translation on both ends of the spectrum. Then walk your students through some common scenarios. As a result, their emotions get captured in a more meaningful way, and they remain primed to pay closer attention to potential solutions.

4. Communication is a Priority

If you only have the time to concentrate on one aspect of cross-cultural training, interaction should be it. Most cultural problems in a global strategy get induced by a breakdown in communication, so it is an excellent place to start. Also, you can build on that foundation once you educate your employees in culturally sensitive interaction. The following are some communication-related topics to consider:

  • Communication problems and the use of idioms that may or may not get easily translated
  • Tone differences between cultures
  • Body language is one of the most crucial aspects of communication
  • Policies for written communication

5. Perfection Comes with Practice

Employees are often hesitant to put their new skills to use in the workplace, especially when dealing with sensitive topics like cultural awareness. Make sure your training includes time for students to practice their new skills in a safe, low-stakes environment. 

Have them work on a problem with a "friend" from another culture, or have them read case histories and offer ideas or solutions to a previous issue. Whatever you choose, putting it into practice strengthens their newfound expertise and allows them to see the benefits before returning to work.

Why is Cross-cultural Awareness So Essential in Today's Business World?

With an increasing number of multinational corporations swarming marketplaces across the B2B and B2C spectrum, we have an immediate and profound need to comprehend the nuances of cross-cultural sensitivity. We communicate with our abroad counterparts daily, either in person or virtually, about technical issues that necessitate a layered emotional awareness of their points of view based on their history, current culture, and heritage.

The Bottom Line 

The global organizational landscape is transforming at a breakneck pace, and we are all learning. Therefore, rather than getting hindered by the problem (or, worse, ignoring it entirely), confront it. 

Demonstrate to your workforce that you are aware of and prepared to discuss cultural differences, even if it means awkward conversations. Then, in the long run, you will find that creating cross-cultural training is a worthwhile investment.

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