MaDaI - Interkulturelles Training

Do you or your employees need Intercultural Training?

Expanding market potential is a continuous process for any business, be it part of a global group or a single enterprise. New markets, new countries nearly always involve contact with different cultures.
The importance of these cultural issues will be different from case to case but is almost always critical for success. Indeed, it is often the smaller differences, e.g. between European countries that cause problems because they are trivialized.
Having made the strategic decision to go abroad a plan needs to be developed and executed. Since setting up a subsidiary abroad, strengthening an existing business or taking over a complete entity usually involves exchange of personnel this is the central theme here.
Operating in foreign markets can be a great opportunity – it is a major challenge both at the professional and personal levels.

Who should be sent and why?

It will be assumed that the target is to improve the bottom line. Additionally, it may be seen as a step in future top management training. For the latter case, the costs can be seen as art of the further education programme.
The costs for expats are high: various studies have shown that, depending on the company size, management level and location, costs often range from 300.000 to 600.000 €/a. The costs include e.g. a better salary, a guaranteed pension and insurance schemes. In some cases family support (extra flights, schools etc.) also needs to be included but in any case relocation costs at the beginning and end of the contract. Seen as an investment these costs should also yield a return!
With this background the company expectations should be very clearly defined; at least a well-defined ROI, a time scale for fully integrating the delegate in the new position and appropriate lines of communication between headquarters and the delegate established.

Is the chosen employee up to the task, does he have a detailed knowledge of what is expected of him and has he been given the necessary tools to do the job?
In particular where foreign companies are taken over it is essential to analyse the culture of the subject company, to identify the opinion leaders and to define differences in hierarchy and the way it works.
It is also important to understand the expectations of the delegate and to document these. The package needs to include the longer term perspective and a safety net at home. An employee that leaves the company requires simply writing off the investment, can lead to delays in executing the strategy or even abandoning it; increased investment or even greater losses.

The reality

The reality often demonstrates that although the targets look good, and plausible, in the business plan they are more difficult to achieve than expected. The reasons for success or failure are complex and can seldom be simply identified in terms of product price or quality or indeed the commitment of the employees.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”
Failure often stems from simple ignorance of the employees and managers. Poorly defined targets may be one reason but unintentional incorrect behaviour can lead to a lack of trust between the delegate and the local employees or customers; the basis for successful business relationships is simply missing.
Studies suggest that the reasons for the failure of takeovers or for the development of international businesses are:
• 30% due to strategic problems resulting from:
o Organization
o Sales ,
o Marketing ,
o Production
• 70% due to different mentalities and a lack of understanding of different cultures.

We are not aware of any statistics to document the real losses due to such failures but the known examples suggest that several billion Euros are lost annually.

The solution

For global groups in which sending delegates abroad or company takeovers are a frequent issue, it may be worthwhile to install a special department to address the issues. This will involve additional fixed and overhead cost.
An alternative is to employ external intercultural management consultants. Thus, larger companies can variabilize fixed costs and smaller companies can make use of professionals on a fixed, short term basis. The offering includes different modules from individual preparation for a delegate and his/her family as well as the logistics of the relocation (Visa, accommodation and school searches as well as the actual relocation.) to company culture analysis and suggestions for assimilation,
Before working with a different culture the least one needs to know is:
• What is the E-Mail culture (Are they considered as formal or more informal communication, who should be copied etc.)?
• How are meetings organised?
• What is required from a presentation?
• Is humour appreciated (Dos and don’ts!)

Of course, there’s a lot more before one is proficient but simply being sensibilized to possible faux pas can mean the difference between success and failure!

The Costs

Which percentage of an investment are you willing to pay, to make sure that the chance of success will be maximized? The cost of intercultural training is generally much less than 1% of the personnel investment.
What does it cost to prepare a delegate for the „cultural shock“, to provide the information needed to make the first days and weeks a little easier?
We offer you different solutions according to your needs. Naturally, the more one wants, the more one has to pay but just as an example;
We offer 2 day intercultural seminars for groups of min. 3 participants (different management and/or employee level) starting from

Of course we can also offer coaching for larger groups or on an individual basis.
The smaller the company the more important is the motivation and loyalty of all the employees and, usually, the more important is quick success. Additionally, in times when the local market lacks dynamic, a geographic expansion may be one of the few strategic options. Especially in difficult times, the success of any action becomes even more critical and needs to be planned most carefully so as to have the maximum chance of success.

We’d be most happy to receive comments on this article or enquiries as to what we at Ma.Da.I can offer.
Daniela Marchese Stephen Pask, SteDaPa Consulting
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 Marchese Daniela - Ma.Da.I

     Intercultural Management