Qualities of a Great Cross-Cultural Consultant

Categories: Aperian Global News, Global Mindset

We at Aperian Global rely heavily on the expertise, experience, and qualities of our global network of senior consultants. Currently, we have approximately 175 facilitators representing 40 different nationalities in 36 countries of the world. They speak a total of 27 languages. We receive, however, many more inquiries and questions from potential facilitators and consultants who want to work for us. We, therefore, want to shine a spotlight on our hiring process. How do we assess the qualities of a great cross-cultural consultant? What are we looking for in a cross-cultural consultant? Finally, we will highlight the quality management we practice to ensure that our clients receive a global delivery and facilitation standard that meets their high expectations across the world.

Assessing the qualities of a great cross-cultural consultant

It is extremely important that we have facilitators who have “walked in the shoes” of our clients. For example, it is critical that a facilitator who works with international assignees has personally relocated to another country. We need our cross-cultural consultants to be able to speak from first-hand experience what is it like to go through the adjustment process. Increasingly important for facilitators is time spent working for an international company and on diverse teams, as clients want to know that their facilitator can share insights on working with people from different backgrounds, work styles, etc. Management experience and industry-specific knowledge can also be important, depending on the location and client we are sourcing for.

Our network of cross-cultural consultants brings experience from a wide range of industries like advertising, academics, telecommunication, mining, automotive, pharmaceuticals, construction, and hospitality. Their subject matter expertise is just as diverse, ranging from organizational development, diversity & inclusion, international mobility, conflict resolution, and team-building to global leadership development, mergers & acquisitions, and executive coaching.

In addition to real global work experience, we look for individuals with experience in training and delivery. Most importantly, of course, is the facilitator’s ability to listen closely to clients and bridge cultural gaps through a natural coaching and consultative approach. We go beyond sharing a list of “dos and don’ts” with our clients, and really dig into the “why” behind the behavior, while actually practicing the cross-cultural skills the client will need to be successful in a global environment. The facilitator must be able to connect with clients and meet them where they are at, whether it is a one-on-one coaching session or virtual session for 50 people.

Real life international business experience, industry-specific knowledge, and a toolbox of facilitation and coaching techniques are qualities of a great cross-cultural consultant at Aperian Global.

Still, from time to time, none of our consultants match the specific needs, as our Global Talent Resource Coordinator notes,

If we do not have a current resource to fulfill a client request, we go through our network to see if we may have someone on standby who we may be able to bring in or perhaps use the upcoming client request as a certification program. We can also explore multiple facilitator models, and we often partner with local Subject Matter Experts, called Country Specialists, to provide additional specific information and support to a lead facilitator when necessary.

— Global Talent Resource Coordinator, Aperian Global

Onboarding cross-cultural consultants

When we decide an additional resource is needed in a certain region or with specific expertise, we undergo the following recruitment process.

After the interview stage, where potential consultants meet with our Talent Management team, Regional Training Consultant, and/or content specialist, we start a three-part Train-the-Trainer (TTT) process:

  • Program Observation to see our content and approach in action
  • Co-facilitation with a Senior Consultant to practice delivery and learn from another facilitator
  • Solo facilitation with a Senior Consultant observing, and completing a final evaluation form

Throughout the process we are scheduling coaching sessions and feedback calls. Our goal it to make sure our facilitators understand the breadth and depth of our rich content while ensuring a consistency of quality delivery and style.

— Lisa Kieffer, Director of Consulting and Associates, North America

Managing consistent quality facilitation and consulting globally

Aperian Global is constantly developing new products, workshops, and content. That’s why it is equally important not only to screen the qualities of a great cross-cultural consultant initially but also to ensure that they remain up to date and deliver the same standard of quality that our clients expect worldwide. Our content owners and developers notify our network of any changes, updates, and new solutions that will impact our associated senior consultants. Each solution has facilitation resources that include clear learning outcomes for specific activities and modules, which enable facilitators to easily understand the end-goal. We host live forums periodically to discuss updates, conduct Q&A sessions, and share best practices. We share recordings for those who may have missed a forum. Our content owners are available for questions and coaching should our facilitators need additional support before delivering a solution.

Additionally, we encourage all our cross-cultural consultants to follow Aperian Global on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and this blog!). It is another great way for our facilitators, clients, and staff to stay on top of new developments within the Aperian Global community.

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