What Aperian Employees Are Learning From Short-Term Assignments
One of the biggest challenges faced by multinational companies is how to make sure that your employees, who come from so many different cultural backgrounds, can build solid relationships and work effectively with each other. Aperian Global provides training and instruction for how to meet this challenge, and it’s one we face ourselves, which is what led us to launch a new internal program for our employees.
One year ago, Aperian Global launched a program for employees who don’t usually travel as part of their work and may only know their global contacts via phone calls and emails. The program, called Short-Term Rotation, allows Aperian Global employees to apply for a stipend and to work out of a different global office for several weeks.
We asked participants to share what they learned.
Ashley Coombs (Boston, MA) worked out of offices in France and Denmark, and said, “The trip helped me realize that though we may may work and play differently as a global workforce, no matter how different our styles are from office to office, we still share the same common vision around why we do what we do.”
Michael Van Vleet (San Francisco, CA) worked in Singapore and India: “It’s so much easier for me to work with colleagues in those offices now because of the friendships that were cemented in person during those visits. Reaching out for a favor now feels like a chance to contact a friend, not an imposition on a stranger.”
This month, the office in Shanghai, China is hosting Archana Patni (Bangalore, India). We asked Archana how the rotation is going so far and she said, “The trip has been an eye-opener about Chinese culture! I’m learning how the city works and the immense development that has taken place here.” She’s already getting to know her colleagues in China better as they help her get around (by writing addresses in Chinese on Post-It notes that she can give to cab drivers) and help her with dining options.
“I’m a vegetarian,” Archana told us, “and that’s been challenging here. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find at least one vegetarian dish at every restaurant I’ve been to. Green beans with sticky rice has become comfort food for me here!”
Every employee returns home, their social circle widened and strengthened, with a more global sense of their work. Time will tell if this idea catches on with other global companies, each with offices full of potential new cross-cultural ambassadors.