Best Practices in International Assignee Cross Cultural Training

e-blog picLast week GDI President Neal Goodman was honored with an invitation to speak at the 2011 FIGT (Families in Global Transition) Conference on Best Practices in International Assignee Cross Cultural Training and Expat Support.

In this very interactive session, we shared and examined the latest best practices that contribute to a successful cross-cultural/expat training program.  The topics/questions the participants brainstormed included:

If you were to design your ideal cross-cultural/expat training program, what would it look like?

What topics must be covered to help a family integrate into their new culture?

What methodologies have you found to be most effective in expat training?

What have been your best and worst experiences in cross-cultural training programs?

What are the most effective technologies and social media/networks to promote expat success?

Below are the combined results from the interactive session…

If you were to design your ideal cross-cultural/expat training program, what would it look like?

  • Consist of cross cultural training and coaching together throughout the duration of the assignment
  • Be embedded into a broader “developing a global mindset” curriculum
  • Led by trainers with experience in that country
  • Provide ongoing resources/access throughout the duration of the assignment and beyond; training/coaching would take place before, during and after the assignment
  • Organization would capturing the acquired knowledge of expats to use for upcoming training sessions and general institutional knowledge
  • Tactile, sensory, experiential
  • Confront stereotypes
  • Draw upon and impart real-life understanding
  • Age-appropriate
  • Pre-program assessment to determine and respond to the specific needs of the trainee(s)

What topics must be covered to help a family integrate into their new culture?

  • Transportation
  • Clothing/shopping
  • School
  • Banking
  • Language/communication
  • Religion/history
  • Holidays
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Colloquialisms
  • Do’s and don’t s of the culture
  • Health concerns
  • Housing
  • Socializing customs
  • Social structure
  • Food
  • Emergency procedures
  • Security
  • Language
  • Administrative issues
  • Understanding of each family member’s approach/response to differences
  • Impact of going from a provider to a dependent (for spouse – sometimes)
  • Preparation for potential loneliness and the need to rebuild a social network
  • Understanding one’s own cultural biases
  • New corporate culture/environment
  • Gender issues
  • Symptoms and stages of culture shock

What methodologies have you found to be most effective in expat training?

  • Inclusion of the whole family and/or a parallel kids program
  • Exploration of the RAFT process:
    • Reconciliation
    • Affirmation
    • Farewell
    • Think Destination
  • Discussion of expectations
  • Simulations/games e.g.: Barnga, BaFa BaFa
  • Mentoring
  • 3 stages of Transition (Bridges)
  • Group coaching

What have been your best and worst experiences in cross-cultural training programs?

Best

  • Simulations
  • Local knowledge
  • Adaptation to audience
  • Short and interactive segments
  • Multi-format delivery
  • Inclusion/introduction of local food and music
  • Creative facilitation

Worst

  • Simulations gone wrong
  • Not debriefing simulations
  • Trainer underprepared
  • Generalizations leading to stereotyping
  • Participants who do not want to be there
  • Long/boring lectures

What are the most effective technologies and social media/networks to promote expat success?

  • Online forums
  • Webinars
  • Listservs
  • Twitter
  • Blogs

Readers, please feel free to add your best practices!


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