International Assignments: World-leading companies often use international assignments to increase the leadership skills and global mindset of their employees. But expatriate assignments can be extremely expensive: up to three times the cost of a person’s typical annual salary, according to some statistics.
The unfortunate reality is that even companies providing well-crafted relocation packages may not always offer in-depth cultural training and support, help assignees and their families settle in, and operate at their optimum.
The Challenge: Our client had developed a multi-million pound extension to its factory in Derbyshire. Given the need to drive new process equipment innovations and provide technical assistance, they invited a team of existing Russian employees to relocate on short-term rotation to the UK. Here, they would manage a project team of British, German, Swiss and French nationals. Their role was to establish standards and coach engineers on new methods of working.
Given the prevailing Russian management style, our client’s Head of International Assignments recognised that it would be best for the inpats to have cultural training as soon as they started work on the factory floor to avoid them getting off to the wrong start.
Our Solution: During our Needs Assessment, the objectives of the workshop were agreed – Babel would deliver a closed workshop with the Russian engineers as a group talking about their cultural expectations including organisational culture, with a follow-up session set aside to answer their questions on practical daily living issues.
The engineers spoke Intermediate/Upper Intermediate English but as our Course Leader was fluent in Russian, we offered – and it was felt better – to deliver the programme in Russian. This helped engender trust in the delegates and allowed them to speak confidentially about their concerns in their mother tongue (some of which were then – with their agreement – fed back to the International Assignments team).
Our practical, highly-interactive workshop identified the keys to understanding different British cultural preferences, identified the differences in Russian and British business approaches and how best to persuade, motivate and influence employees when introducing new innovations. The content focused on:
Living in the UK: The Practicalities
We also recommended some one-to-one coaching with the engineers. The aim of the coaching was for them to practice role-play situations which allowed them to run-through their work situations with our course leader before tackling difficult conversations with staff on the factory floor.
Finally, there was also an option for them to come back for more coaching on a trouble-shooting basis in the future.
"Although I have had cultural training in the past, this was far more useful to me. It was interactive and helped me to improve my cultural awareness."
Working Across Cultures
Experian - Bulgaria
"Each year the Babel module is rated 'outstanding' by our graduates. They feel really engaged and encouraged to learn and although some of them may have studied these topics at university, they have never experienced the content within such a multi-cultural group and the advice offered by top trainers. The graduates are excited to network with fellow colleagues from different offices and cultures and Babel's programme enables us to do this perfectly."
Graduate Development Programme