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Conversations Across Cultures: A Brief Intro to Training Across the Globe

At Fierce, we're often asked about how our programs translate across countries and cultures. At times, there's a false assumption that content can't translate across global markets without major customization. This is a misnomer.

We've been training internationally, partnering with multi-national organizations and local re-sellers who service small to mid-sized business, for over ten years. Our programs have been rolled out in over 15 countries and we're translated in over 13 languages. Time and time again, our global partners have shared that the need to have conversations is human and asked if they change any of our content to make it resonate more with the cultures they're working with, the resounding answer is "no." Needing to have conversations is human.

The Global Relevance of Fierce

There are times when a phrase or word may not translate well with the country's official language or the primary language of the company's employees, and these changes are made in order to assure clarity in learning. However, there are never any large-scale changes to the content. What we generally hear is that when there's resistance to any of the content, it's not a clash of culture but rather resistance to a new way of thinking that deviates from the way the company has been operating, such as having a very top-down, hierarchical system in place, for example. And this goes to show that even positive changes can be met with resistance at first.

Fundamentally, it doesn't matter where you're from when it comes to our models, concepts, and methodology. The idea of say, personal accountability, could be arguably American, but people respond to the concept positively even in cultures that are highly community-oriented.

Whether it's abroad or local, we sometimes get pushback about the idea of confrontation, with the lens of "we don't like confrontation." And honestly, who does like confrontation? It's a conversation that can be difficult, but when equipped with the right skills to do it, it chips away at the fear that leads so many of us to avoid it.

Our content challenges generalizations people make like "Asian countries avoid confrontation," which just isn't true. Fierce programs are effective regardless of culture because they focus centrally on relationships—our relationship with both self and others. And who doesn't want better relationships? Success in relationships has proven necessary for companies around the world, and all businesses get things done through people.

One of the defining qualities of Fierce content is in fact its ability to transcend the differences between countries and cultures and get to the heart of what we all share: the human experience. It goes even deeper than where you were born, the culture you grew up in, or the language you speak.

Conscientious Training Conversations

Although Fierce content translates across cultures, one thing we and our providers strive to be mindful of is how the programs can impact a company's population, either culturally or logistically, and we have to take multiple factors into consideration. Learning professionals need to consider the potential challenges and how to address them, and we can offer guidance through this process.

A client of ours recently purchased 2,000 toolkits for a large-scale rollout that will impact all of their people leaders. They want to be as conscientious as possible, so they hired an anthropologist and cultural expert to help guide them in their work. We spoke with the anthropologist over the phone and answered a series of questions about language, our experience with various cultures, and what we've learned from these cultures. Ultimately, the relevancy work was focused more on the specific culture of this organization than on country and we ensured that different points of views were considered.

Aside from culture, it's also important to be conscientious of logistics during the early phases of planning. With implementation, it's a slightly different process than it is in the states, especially if you're rolling out programs to multiple markets. For example, you may need toolkits in another language, or classes may need to be broken up into two different classes in different locations. We're currently partnering with a large upscale beauty retailer whose business spans 150 markets globally, and the goal is to roll Fierce out to as many markets as possible over the course of the next year and a half—language barriers, travel, schedules and time zones will all be taken into account during the planning process.

This training involves people, and the logistics aren't just a widget that you add. There's a lot to consider. You need to have the space in a room to host the training, for example, and our buyers having to make tough calls about who gets to train. The question often arises whether to scale back the training and make it more elite, or roll it out to as many people across markets as possible.

When you run into barriers, we're committed to helping you overcome them in any way we can. We work with you to address the challenges of having the right toolkits and the right facilitator to work with your company's population.

Here are some questions to consider if you want to roll out training in your company to multiple markets across the globe:

  • Do you have local learning or HR partners in those markets to help drive the training?
  • What translated resources do you need to maximize and sustain the learning?
  • What does success look like in each market, and how are you going to measure it?

I once heard someone say, "We can't have honest conversations in the Midwest because that's not how the Midwesterners do things." At Fierce, we've found that the negative assumptions and ideas we often have about people just aren't true. What we have found, over and over again, is that these 6 business conversations we've identified and the skillset and the methodology that go along with them is consistent throughout different locations, cultures, and languages.

No matter who you are or where you're from, you can have a fierce conversation that will strengthen relationships and get results.

Curious about the most important conversations you need to be having today? Download our eBook here.


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