United States Federal Agency

A client of 17 years, this federal agency has committed to developing the global mindset of its employees. We worked in collaboration to create and implement an agency-wide International Training Program that would meet their unique needs, and allow them to grow on a global scale.

Problem

Agents at this organization are required to provide inclusive and culturally sensitive service to customers and counterparts both locally and globally. The agency came to Aperian Global with the desire to expand and improve cultural learning and training programs.

Our work would be more successful if employees had the training and skills to handle themselves in an international environment and know how to conduct themselves as a representative of the US government.

— Member of Agency Leadership

Figuring Out the Solution

Aperian Global consultants conducted diagnostic interviews with leaders and managers across agency programs. The following high-level needs were discovered:

  • Making international training accessible agency-wide
  • Training employees on agency-specific business practices and the role of the organization internationally
  • Developing staff members as professional global representatives
  • Educating employees on intercultural awareness and adaptability
  • Equipping staff with global trade policy knowledge to be able to promote and expand trade
  • Developing global leaders

Making Training Accessible Agency-Wide

The agency could only offer a very limited number of employees cross-cultural training with their in-person facilitation format. As almost all agency work has an international component, the organization set a goal to make cross-cultural training available to all employees.

By moving from in-person training to the GlobeSmart online learning platform, the whole organization was able to achieve access to valuable international and cultural awareness training.

Establishing a Better Understanding of the Organization’s Work

Interviews and exploration indicated a consistent lack of understanding of all the parties involved in getting agency work done. Findings also showed that employees often struggled to see beyond the silo of their agency work and failed to see the bigger picture of connections to other linked organizations.

To help employees understand the bigger picture of agency work on a global scale, we developed the custom eLearning module [Agency’s Name] at Work Internationally. This module provides an overview of all organizational programs, safety protocols and policies for traveling internationally, and why collaboration with other agencies is critical.

Developing Employees as Global Representatives

Many employees lacked a baseline understanding of self in terms of how they came across in communication via email and teleconference; what biases they had, and their personal work style preferences. We developed several learning components to help prepare staff members to act as responsible global agents:

  • A live webinar, Working Globally, that develops participants’ ability to work effectively in a global environment through enhanced self-awareness and cultural agility.
  • An eLearning module, Cultural Foundations, that helps participants identify, understand, and bridge differences with global colleagues using the GlobeSmart Profile.
  • An eLearning module, Introduction to Country X, that identifies similarities and differences between typical work styles from 97 countries, giving participants new insight into diverse work styles.

Standardizing Training for Cultural-Specific Protocol

A general lack of protocol, including cultural-specific protocol, led to a lack of consistency in actions across employees. Several learning components were established that covered best practices for effectively communicating, negotiating, and trading with international partners. With all employees having access to such training, more consistent employee behaviors were able to emerge. Training segments included:

  • A live webinar, Virtual Country Briefing, that introduces participants to the essential cultural competency skills needed to successfully conduct business in different cultures.
  • An eLearning module, Leveraging Diverse Styles, which helps participants understand the “why” behind global colleagues’ behaviors, and teaches best practices for improved global collaboration.
  • A live webinar, Effective Virtual Collaboration, which teaches participants how to be more productive by creating better virtual communication channels.

Improving Employee Capacity to Promote & Expand Trade

The agency has a strategic goal to promote domestic products and expand international trade opportunities. Learning components were developed to address this objective and expand employee understanding of international trade policy, equipping them to have more productive trade discussions:

  • A live Trade Policy Panel connects participants to agency experts, increasing awareness of issues related to international trade policy, relevant trade challenges, and best practices.
  • An industry-specific agreement eLearning module that covers the working knowledge of the history, principles, and application of the given agreement, which was established by the World Trade Organization and applicable to all officials involved in international trade.

Developing Global Leaders

To help develop the next succession of agency leaders, several targeted training components were created:

  • A live webinar, Developing Global Leaders, which helps participants understand key global leadership skills, core values to build self-awareness, and skills to influence.
  • An eLearning module Supervisors Overseeing International Assignees, which coaches managers on how to select, prepare, and manage employees traveling on international assignments.
  • A 2-day invitation-only course, Global Negotiations, that delves into the key skills needed to successfully negotiate creative and sustainable agreements with foreign counterparts.

“The agency has reported positive long-term outcomes including improved employee work performance based on a stronger capacity to facilitate business on an international scale, due to the skills gained and knowledge learned through this program.”

— Member of Agency Leadership

Outcomes

Over the last four years, 1,300 agents were trained through engaging learning experiences, practical research, and impactful online tools that drove meaningful behavior change. This behavior change has empowered employees to be professional global representatives of the agency while at home and abroad.

Here’s what one participant had to say about the program:

“Aperian Global and this training have been one of the best experiences I have had in my almost thirty years of service. I wish we had the opportunity to have this type of training many years ago, but it is never too late to learn new skills. Thank you for this training opportunity. Your team has done an excellent job!”

Out of a sample of 231 federal agency training participants:

  • 99% agreed the programs provided them with practical skills, knowledge, and strategies.
  • 97% agreed that their participation in the programs would positively impact their effectiveness when interacting with people from other cultures.

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