The Multicultural Aspects of Training: Communication, Translation, and Localization

There are several factors that go into deploying an effective international training program, most importantly communication, translation, and localization.

Let’s start with communication, which is a key success factor to any effective training program. Communication between the program developers (which are typically decision-makers within the organization) and the trainers is essential. One best practice to keep the lines of communication open is to implement a weekly or bi-weekly call where all trainers involved in the program share the challenges they’ve faced during their sessions, best practices they’ve created or resolutions to previous concerns. This will be extremely helpful during the implementation phase of the program (the first six to eight weeks).

A second best practice organizations should adopt centers on translation and localization – developing a standardized master course that ensures consistency of materials. Once a standardized master course has been created its contents need to be translated and adapted for local markets. Adaptation includes recognizing local cultures and region-specific behaviors. One of the challenges of localizing content is translation. Choosing the right examples and wording is critical to ensuring key messages are effectively and appropriately conveyed to all audiences. Be sure to select examples that reflect local cultures and be careful when using acronyms in training materials. After all, they won’t necessarily have the same meanings in all training locations, which can drastically impact the effectiveness of the training.

It is also worth noting that while it may be relatively easy to create local versions of an English master course initially, deployment costs can skyrocket if the proper systems and processes for adaptation and later updates aren’t put in place at the outset (e.g. if new product features are added, competitor landscapes or positioning changes, etc.). Raytheon Professional Services’ systems and processes for translation are configured to help keep translation costs to a minimum, regardless of the training method – instructor-based, web-based or even virtual classroom training.

Olivier Lefaivre is General Manager for RPS in France. Olivier spent the last 15 years in the consulting and learning industry, leading international projects and teams, as well as developing strategies for marketing and sales. Olivier holds an Executive MBA from ESCP Europe, and a Master degree in Marketing and Economics. Olivier is based in Paris, France.