Top 10 Considerations for Global Training
Feature Story – By Jennifer Bryan
When planning global training, remember your learners
There’s an old adage that says the more you learn about your audience, the more they will learn from you. This rings especially true with global life sciences training, where the misinterpretation of information could have serious consequences for patients.
With a focus on launching training involving multiple cultures, whether across the European continent or at a single location in Philadelphia, here’s a countdown of 10 considerations.
10. It’s Not Only What You Say, It’s How You Say It
The language barrier is perhaps the most obvious of all global training challenges. In some instances, there could be multiple languages among employees on global teams. Add regional dialects, grammatical idiosyncrasies and thousands of word meanings, connotations and nuances into the mix, and it’s clear why attempting to translate existing content word-for-word is not the best way to convey true meaning and intent.
When developing any global training materials, strip out complicated sentence structure, acronyms, jargon and expressions like similes, metaphors or idioms. Communication is only effective when recipients get the exact same message you intend to send. Using clear, simple language will save you time and money in the long run.
9. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
When developing global learning materials, exercise caution when using images. Pay attention to clothing, hand gestures and cultural and environmental elements to ensure the imagery is culturally appropriate. For example, the “thumbs up” gesture, commonly seen in photos and icons in the United States to convey approval, agreement or accomplishment, is considered offensive in certain parts of the Middle East and an insult in Bangladesh. Also use caution with images that show people looking at a wristwatch or using the “OK” or “V for peace” hand signs, all of which can have negative connotations elsewhere in the world.
To ensure your content is culturally sensitive, get input from trusted individuals within those cultures. Find a supplier that can effectively translate and make sure all materials are culturally adapted for the audience. If you don’t have the resources to do this, use an alternate image or leave it out.
8. Avoid Version Control Headaches
Revisions are inevitable. Confirming that you have the right version can be more difficult when it’s in another language. Put a system in place for version control from the beginning to make it easy for everyone to follow, enabling you to stay on top of updates with consistency — and control costs.
With global regulations becoming increasingly complex, it’s essential to consider the local compliance and regulatory environment for your audience. Before you begin the project, find out what level of legal and compliance approvals your materials may require and how to gain them in each region so you can factor this into production timelines.
6. Set Meaningful and Measurable Learning Objectives and Align Them With Business Goals
As with any other training program, delivering a successful global learning initiative demands that you meet the needs of your learners. To identify goals, consider what your global audience must walk away knowing.
In a global setting, the overall business goals of one division may differ from those of another. That’s why it’s important to at least know what they are and consider how they impact the learning objectives for each audience.
5. Incorporate Multiple Delivery Modes for Optimum Global Adaptability
In any given population, there are people with different learning abilities. Now consider that population in the global arena comprising diverse job roles, such as those in manufacturing, labs, warehouses, offices, etc. They may work in different geographies and speak various languages.
All these variables make determining the most effective training delivery mode more complex. Self-led elearning and videos may be convenient, but some employees might learn better through live instruction either in person or via a virtual live stream. Other learners may gain the most from interacting with their peers either in person, through an online forum or via gamification platforms.
Finding the best delivery mode to address different learning abilities and needs may result in a blended approach to allow employees to learn in the manner, pace and place that suits them best.
4. Know What’s Happening in the Region
When planning your training schedule, make sure it doesn’t conflict with any national holidays or significant events in the region. Stay abreast of current regional events in case of any political or social unrest, natural disasters or other factors that could impact the timing of your training.
3. From Technology to Time Zones
Technology infrastructure and equipment requirements may impact the delivery platform you choose. What virtual engagement platform is accessible by your audience? Do they have their own laptops or must they rely on communal computer stations?
Scheduling and logistics for global training also requires coordination and communication due to time zone differences. For example, factoring in the 14-hour time difference between your U.S. West Coast office and Singapore will impact your training plan.
2. Keep an Eye on the Bottom Line
The expense of global training can be considerable and variable depending on what’s needed in terms of communication, production and implementation. As with any business need, the pros and cons of various training strategies and methods must be weighed. Investing in global training shows your company understands and appreciates cultural differences and believes that learning to operate effectively and ethically in cultures other than your own is essential.
1. Get Input From All Stakeholders
Building a global training program must start by establishing processes for working together across regions. Appoint an individual or team to take ownership of the project.
This should include gathering input from all stakeholders in your global training initiative so you’re not working in a vacuum. Reaching out to global partners ahead of time to learn what works best for them is far more effective than moving ahead without their input.
Global training in life sciences requires a heightened focus on developing an effective and efficient strategy for content and how it’s delivered. Whether your employees are interacting on a virtual team or face-to-face, a well-designed approach is essential for effective engagement across your corporate landscape. Ultimately, it will ensure the effectiveness of training and the accuracy of what is conveyed.
Jennifer Bryan is head of commercial training & development at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Email Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org.