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Employee Cross-Cultural Training Program


The current climate in the business environment has become so competitive that organizations are now competing at a global level. Local markets have also become so strained, forcing companies to move beyond borders to seek opportunities. To survive in the globally competitive market, the organization should be well endowed with resources and skills that will enhance it to have a competitive edge over the rivals in the market. However such global initiatives have been hampered with various management challenges which include but are not limited to management of diversity, conflicting international laws, and financial issues. Organizations that have managed to overcome these challenges have been very active in reorganizing their management structures as well as initiating and implementing employee training programs whose aim is to equip all the employees with salient skills on dealing with cultural issues that will enhance expatriates cope with unforeseen events in the new cultural situations in the new environments (Caligiuri, Phillips, Lazarova, Tarique and Burgi, 2001).

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The role of cross-cultural training programs

Employee cross-cultural training programs are very important in an organization that has diverse cultural backing as well as a company operating in a global environment because it not only equips the employees with the relevant skills but also provides an opportunity for the employees to develop and improve their careers (Pande and Krishnan, n.d). A well-structured training program should incorporate all employees in the organization as well as cover all areas of operation of the organization. In addition, the program should be a continuous process since the business environment is always dynamic such that what may be the practice today may not be applicable tomorrow. However, the program should have a timeline depending on the method applied or the type of employees (existing, fresh, or potential) subjected to the training program.

Cross-cultural training is very important especially when the organization is operating at an international level. Adequate skills in cultural awareness not only benefit the organization to venture into the international market but also enhance communication within and outside the organization. Cross-cultural training enhances the improvement of organizational culture through incorporating employees from different cultures or nations into the organization. All employees should be competent enough to communicate information adequately, and were called upon to conduct international assignments, they may not interfere with the operations of the organizations due to cultural deficiencies. Different cultures have different beliefs, values, and practices and therefore the training program should be able to enhance an understanding of these varying new experiences and relationships.

Cultural training enhances employees inefficiently leveraging employees’ strengths, making them more culturally flexible and responsive, the result of which is the improvement of the company’s professionalism and reputation. In addition, the program helps the organization assign international duties effectively as well as preparing the employees for assignments both locally and internationally. For instance, where a company intends to send an employee on international duty (whether short-term or long-term), the training program will serve to psychologically and technically equip the employee with the skills to deal with cultural shocks and acclimatization. These skills should be tailored not only to the organization’s business issues but also to the interactions and social issues, and the training can be conducted through group sessions, face-to-face, or e-learning.

International operations are always carried out in a diverse legal environment where the operating laws may at times conflict. In this case, employee training on international law is important to equip the employees with an understanding of the different legal requirements in the global business environment. In addition, international labor laws may differ from the local laws and therefore it becomes important that all employees are well equipped with skills to enable them to operate effectively in the international arena. Although existing employees may be at least, if not fully aware of the global laws governing the business, new employees are always at amiss on legal matters and therefore they would need sufficient training during their orientation. In designing the cross-cultural training program, the specifics of cultural practices in different nations should be the focal point since what one culture may term legal may not be legal in a foreign country.

Many organizations have transformed themselves into multinational companies with permanent operations being established in foreign territories. It, therefore, becomes important to have sound employee training programs that encompass training employees on foreign market cultures and operations, as well as on repatriation issues. The training programs are aimed at developing employees to successfully operate in foreign markets, adapt to foreign environments, and readjust to the local environment after foreign assignment (Harvey, 2009). As much as an employee will face hardship adjusting to the foreign environment, so will the employee experience a lot of pressure trying to adjust to the domestic environment following a long absence. The training program should ensure that the existing employees are trained on how to handle both domestic and foreign operations, while new employees should be subjected to a comprehensive orientation program that encompasses diversity interactions and multinational operations. The program should equip the employee shifting to a foreign assignment with customized skills that will suit him/her while away as well as advancing the same training to his/her family to enable them to cope with the changes in the social environment Pande and Krishnan, n.d, p. 12)

Multinational teams are also very influential on how the organization performs as compared to the competitors. Multinational companies should enhance multinational team’s capabilities by incorporating employees from diverse cultures or nationalities to leadership positions – commonly referred to as polycentric strategy- and equipping them with all the relevant skills that are important to deal with cultural differences. Indeed, according to Lockwood (2004), multinational teams do not succeed due to cultural values or diversity training, but due to the ability of individual members in the team to use their cultural intelligence to create unity among themselves. Although multinational companies may have uniformity of operations across all their units, the behavior and practices of the people who run them are different and therefore may cause failure (Pande and Krishnan, n.d, p. 4).

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The process of training

The training program should be administered through off-the-job training sessions that will enhance interactions between all employees. The sessions should be organized to suit the participation of every member of staff through lectures and brainstorming as well as role-playing. An important aspect of the training program is identifying the training gap in the organization that would significantly influence the performance and communication in the organization. In addition, one of the various methodologies may be used. These include “attribution; cultural awareness; cognitive behavior modification; and experiential learning” (Pande and Krishnan, n.d, p. 13).

For existing employees, the training program should be administered through lecturing as it is not only cost-effective but also it can be administered to a mass of people thereby allowing an opportunity for interaction and brainstorming. The organization will need to identify training personnel from within or outside. Although internal training personnel will be cheaper and acquainted with organizational operation’s mission and goals, outside sources may be more preferred since they have expertise in the training of staff and may be more reliable in providing the most relevant materials for the program. Moreover, the outside source may be more convenient due to the nature of training, which emanates from the need to iron out cultural communication challenges and work ethics problems. In addition, off-the-job training may be preferred due to the level of concentration that may be afforded since there will be no interference from business operations. Where the trainer may need to have some knowledge about the organization’s products and operation as well as policies, the prior arrangement should be made to orient the trainer before the start of the training program. The time frame for the training should also be considered. Since it is an interactive session, and considering that the normal operations of the organization should not be interrupted, a reasonable time frame of around five days per group of employees selected from diverse cultures should be considered.

The training program should also be tailored to include a multicultural committee made up of a management team who should ensure that the program runs smoothly through enhancing the incorporation of the organizational goals as well a the employees’ goals in the program to achieve positive results. The importance of the multicultural committee will also be felt throughout the training program as it will act as a morale booster to the employees who will see it as a role model of what cultural diversity is all about. Training manuals are important and should be provided to the employees during the training session although some pre-work materials that require brainstorming may be provided before.

New employees and future employees will have to be trained during their orientation to the company. The orientation program is important as it will enhance the understanding and adaptation of the new employees to the organizational culture as well as help the new employee to internalize the diverse cultures in the organization. A well-structured orientation program should be able to provide the new employee with an understanding of the organization’s vision and mission, organization structure and level of diversity, communication patterns, and organization’s rules and regulations that will govern them in the course of their work. The time frame for this program will be very vital, as it will be very important to give the new employees sufficient time to fully adjust to the new environment; normally, a training program of about a month will be reasonable enough for this program. In addition to the training program, training manuals that include all the aspects that the new employee is expected to learn should be provided which may be in form of hard copies online.

The diversity training program will need to have various activities that should revolve around the goals of the training program. Such activities will play a key role to ensure the success of the training program as well as motivating the employees during the training program. Such activities may include, role-playing exercises debates, and cultural exchanges. In addition, resource materials such as articles on affirmative action, lectures, and presentations may be used to strengthen the outcome of the program (Hamlett, 2009). Moreover, the employees will be required to give feedback whether critique or commentary about the program to ensure that the program has had the intended impact on the employees. This can be done at the end of the program and certification made on completion of the program.


A well-designed cross-cultural training program is vital for the continuous performance of both the employee and the organization as a whole. For the organization to succeed in the ever-competitive global market, all the employees should be well equipped with cross-cultural skills that will enhance organizational behavior and communication. Competent employees should be able to cope with the differences in cultural practices regardless of the place in which they are assigned duty. The well-structured program will enhance staff motivation as it will work as a preparation tool for global assignments and as well as a platform for the organization to claim a competitive advantage in the global market.


Caligiuri, P. et al. (2001). The Theory Of Met Expectations Applied To Expatriate Adjustment: The Role Of Cross-Cultural Training. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 12 (3): 357-373. 2009. Web.

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Hamlett, C. (2009).How to Write a Diversity Training Proposal. Web.

Harvey, M. G. Repatriation of corporate executives: an empirical study. Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 20, 1989. Web.

Lockwood, N. R. (2004). Cultural Intelligence: A New Approach to International Management Training. Web.

Pande, A. and Krishnan, S. K. (N.d). Expatriation: The Cross-Cultural Issues and Design of Training for Coping. 2009. Web.

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