This past month, the ASTD Eastern PA Chapter focused on the Communities of Practice (CoP) for Global Human Resource Development (HRD) Global HRD. The ASTD Community of Practice provides a forum for professionals from different countries with an interest in developing talent for the global workforce, regional and country specific best practices and global benchmarking. A wide range of multiple languages content can also be found here.
This topic provides me with yet another opportunity to share with you lessons learned in the field of training and development. A few years back, I had the opportunity to take a new hire training program that I developed, in partnership with global line of business subject matter experts. I assumed because the program was a success domestically, that basically the program could be rolled out as is to a global audience. A business case was developed and approved by the senior leadership team and global and regional differences were noted from a technological standpoint. Regional trainers were identified and trained to conduct the training sessions. Months of planning occurred to ensure that the regional trainers were prepared to conduct their training sessions and the training curriculum pretty much stayed intact.
At the same time, I was also working on an initiative to move parts of the new hire training program to an online format so that it would be more easily accessible to a global audience while at the same time minimize training resources. An analysis was done to determine which courses in the curriculum would be best suited for this type of format and work was completed to transition these courses to a web-based training format. All was moving along swimmingly with very little pushback from the global subject matter experts I was working with when all of a sudden, as the online courses were being ready to be implemented, it came to my attention, through an informal conversation, that some global regions (who by the way were very involved with our offshoring efforts) preferred instructor led training to taking online training via web-based programs.
It was only through my recent studies that I was able to objectively review the deficiencies of the training program and realize that although an analysis was completed to ensure the overall learning and performance objectives were met, very little work was done to complete a cultural analysis which would of course include doing an analysis not only of the culture itself, but of the preferred learning styles in which they were affiliated. Having recently returned to my former place of employment and having the opportunity to revisit some of the initiatives that resulted in these online courses, I am now able to ask the questions that need to be asked and conduct a more comprehensive needs analysis when dealing with a global audience.
So what lessons have I learned when working with a global audience?Cultural differences are real and should be considered as part of the needs assessment when designing learning programs. As part of the needs analysis, the following should be completed:
With regard to the design and delivery of instruction, especially e-learning type programs, special consideration should be given to understanding:
- Audience Analysis
- Cultural Analysis
- Learning Style Preference Analysis
- Communication Preference Analysis
- Learning Needs Analysis
- Cultural Orientation
- Preferred Language vs. Global English
- Use of Images and their cultural context and implications
- Communication Styles and Barriers
- Technological Limitations
As training professionals, we want to be able to design and deliver training programs that provide an environment conducive to all learners. However, in order to achieve that objective, we, at times, may need to recognize the differences that exist.