Globalization is occurring at an unparalleled rate. The shrinking globe has made successful relationships critical to the success of teams, projects, and organizations. And that leads to one question: Does your organization have an environment of inclusion, where employees around the world are tolerant of differences and willing to learn about other languages, cultures, and traditions?
Teams composed of employees from multiple countries across several time zones are no longer unusual. Taking the time to get to know customers and colleagues from around the globe will build trust, credibility, and teamwork. If your organization does not have an inclusive culture, the time to create it is now?even if your company has yet to go global?because a diverse team will be more productive and more enticing to customers.
Cultural misunderstandings can no longer be an excuse. It is imperative to identify specific situations where misunderstandings are likely to occur in the design and delivery of courses across cultures or other working environments. In the article "What Worries CEOs Now?" on page 27 of the January 2011 issue of T+D, Pat Galagan highlights an IBM survey reporting that in 2010, less than half of 1,500 chief executive officers surveyed were "adequately prepared to handle a highly volatile, complex business environment." CEOs cited that they were concerned about the changes in the global economic power centers and rapidly evolving customer preferences.
Learning executives need to be involved - from the beginning - in all global expansion plans. Along with sensitivity to a new culture, integration of culture, processes, and learning content is vital to successfully transitioning values, beliefs, and knowledge to all workers. Become the knowledge source on operations in the new region, and discover which aspects of learning should remain centralized and which should be localized.
Building an inclusive culture will have its challenges, but as Kevin J. Sensenig writes in this month's cover story (page 32), "If we can expertly demonstrate a spirit of inclusion as we develop, design, and implement programs for international audiences, then our trainees will follow our example and become more effective, inclusive global business people."