Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to provide cross-cultural training – prior to departure or on arrival?
The ideal answer to this question is both as there are advantages to be gained from training at each stage. Training in home country prior to departure prepares the relocatee for the demands of the first stages of adaptation. It calms initial fears, provides confidence and reassurance as well as evaluating and reviewing unrealistic expectations. Training which uses research on value differences can discuss differences before the emotional context that may be attached when those differences have been experienced. Use of a cultural mentor who is experienced in the host country is important to add validity to the pre-departure training. Training in the host country can ideally be in the form of follow up to the earlier training and provide on-the-spot explanations of aspects or situations the relocates have found confusing. While the relocate is immersed in the culture the trainer can provide support and encouragement in the behaviour and attitude changes needed to adapt well to working in the new location.
What is the difference between cross cultural training, intercultural training and diversity training?
Sometimes the differences are more in semantics where different words can be used to convey the same meaning. Cross-cultural usually refers to training that involves increasing awareness about two or more cultures, perhaps where the trainee is moving from one culture to another and the training will focus on home and host cultures. Intercultural training often refers to training which increases awareness between a number of different cultures, perhaps where the trainee will be managing a culturally varied group. Diversity training is more often used where the different cultures are present working together in the same workplace or represented among the client base and focuses on increasing awareness and value of the other cultures. Keep in mind that your trainer’s use of the different terms may be more influenced by their own cultural background (Intercultural is a term used more in the USA than in other countries for example). Ask questions to determine what the content of the training will cover and what the outcomes should be for your trainees. Trans Cultural Careers can provide training to cover any of these areas of training need.
Why provide training for family members?
The most common reason for early return from overseas assignment is partner or family dissatisfaction.In asking your employee to relocate overseas they are committing to a major change for the whole family whether they choose to relocate or commute. Making the adaptation easier for the whole family means your employee is more able to focus on the new work environment and more likely to perform to the level of productivity you are seeking.
What are the issues facing children moving to another country?
In many countries expat children live in compounds or apartments with similar housing conditions to home and attend international schools rather than local schools. Their need to adapt to the local culture is often comparatively low. However they do need to adapt to the sub-culture that exists within international schools and expatriate communities and may be very different from the laid back Aussie environment they are accustomed to. The issues of making new friends, dealing with restricted freedoms, new peer groups with different standards of what is ‘cool’, tougher study and homework regimes, being a constant source of interest or curiosity to the locals around them, and adapting to servants can be issues the family and children need to manage.
Is training really necessary for moving from one English speaking country to another?
Moving to an area of low cultural distance, where the amount of perceived similarity between the cultures (including language) is high is undoubtedly easier than a move that involves high cultural distance. Many relocates make these moves successfully without training. Many also report a period of depression or anxiety as they go through the change adjustment cycle, many also hold on to stereotypes, prejudices or values that impact on their ability to relate well to workmates or employees. Training can ease the change process, speed the adaptation and mark you as an employer who is aware of the needs and acts to anticipate and prevent problems rather than responding later when damage has been done.