Researching and evaluating cross-cultural training providers is no easy task, especially if you’ve never worked with one before. It can be hard to determine exactly what you need to know to make an informed decision — and to be certain that you haven’t overlooked any essential information.
Given our 30+ years of experience in the industry, we know what we’d ask to evaluate the effectiveness of a cross-cultural training provider. Here are our top ten:
Why is this important? Cross-cultural consulting is a fairly new field of consulting, with only about 50-60 years of research body and experience. Given this niche expertise, you expect your external provider to lead the field in trying the latest research with case studies and real-life examples. At the same time, the field is evolving as globalization is progressing, technology evolves, and new findings in neuroscience, leadership and management research emerge. Good indicators of thought leadership are for example staff that teaches as adjunct faculty at a university, publications (books, articles), interviews on national and international media, as well as a strong social media presence.
Why is this important? As a global or expanding organization, you will need to strike a fine balance between global, corporate training content and local adaptation. In order to refer to the same language, organizational culture, and values, your Learning & Development team needs to ensure that same quality and same content can be delivered across the globe. If you are working with a regional provider, you will have to go through onboarding, training and procurement processes with another provider in a different region of the world.
Facilitating and delivering training in the local language guarantees that your local audience will focus on the learning and not understanding a foreign language. Furthermore, the added benefit of a facilitator in a local language is that he/she knows the nuances of the local culture and how the program content might have to be tweaked with local stories or context to work in their location.
Why is this important? Every organization has different current challenges depending on their industry, markets, whether they are public or private, and so on. While a standard program on concepts like global leadership and cross-cultural competence is a great start to get your employees thinking and discussing, specific situations cam require a customized learning experience. Whether it is an intact team, a strategic consulting project, or a leadership pipeline program, customization drives learning points home with real-life scenarios, peer-coaching, and specifically tailored learning experiences that fit the overall context of the organization.
Why is this important? Most cross-cultural consulting companies outsource part of their facilitation and training to external consultants. In order for you to be sure of the quality standard and maintenance, you should ask about the certification process for trainers and consultants. If there is no standard procedure in place, it is a good indication that the quality of your training solution will depend and vary a lot by a trainer.
Why is this important? The benefit of a consulting company with a large network of associates is that they can specifically match the trainer or consultant that you will be engaging with, with your needs and challenges. The credibility and validity of an external trainer in a room full of experienced employees skyrocket when he/she speaks their business lingo and has industry-specific examples and background. At other times, it might not be subject matter expertise like virtual team management, post-merger cultural integration, or inclusive leadership that leads the choice of the right trainer. Ask the question to find out whether the provider has a variety of trainers that they work with.
Why is this important? A large part of the work done within this consulting field focuses on the leader, the employee, the individual itself. Providing profiles, data and individual debriefings enhance the individual learning process. A cross-cultural consulting provider that can either administer their own tests and profiles or debrief existing ones within your organization, is able to offer an additional component of personal and professional development that can lead to long-term changes in behavior and attitudes.
Why is this important? A training and consulting company can only show its success through the data, evaluation, and references of their clients. Transparency around customer satisfaction is a clear sign of a well-established thought leader in the industry. If they cannot name clients for confidentiality reasons, ask them for case studies or anonymized references.
Why is this important? The evolution of technology and digital trends within virtual teaming has made it necessary for consulting businesses to keep up with trends. Providing virtual learning solutions is no longer optional, but should be a standard portfolio product as organizations are decreasing global travel expenses. Your external provider should be able to deliver any standard program virtually. Pay close attention to whether the content is fully adapted to the virtual set-up, as a one to one translation of the content into the virtual context means poor instructional design capabilities. Virtual learning solutions should always be customized to the platform, the virtual context, and the learning environment.
Why is this important? External training providers need to respond to the reality of the workplace. Micro-learning, blended learning, and e-learning are just a few trends that indicate that many organizations are focusing on shorter training intervals combined with learning-on-the-job initiatives, or blended solutions with face-to-face and virtual components… Ask your external consulting partner for examples of how they approach this time- and resource restraint from a learning and development perspective.
Why is this important? Psychometric instruments need to be tested for reliability and validity of measurement. Validity means the degree to which the tool or assessment actually measures what it claims to do, reflecting accuracy. Reliability means the extent to which the inventory robustly comes to the same results, reflecting the consistency of the measurement. Instruments that are being used to generate forecasts of performances, skills, traits, or the current state of abilities need to be rigorously tested to sustain under these conditions. These two measures should be made available upon request as they signify the usefulness and quality of a test or inventory.
As mentioned above, Aperian Global is proud to be able to answer, “yes” to each of these questions.
If you’re currently sourcing a cross-cultural training provider or will be in the future, we’d welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your organization’s specific challenges or initiatives. We encourage you to set up some time to speak with someone from our team.