How Intercultural Training Can Improve Productivity Within Your Organization
Doing business in a new culture can be daunting. First-time visitors to a country have to quickly grasp market requirements, create and market their products and services in a competitive environment all while learning how to communicate with local employees, in a polite and efficient manner.
India can be especially overwhelming for newcomers and business visitors from the Western world. Dizzyingly multicultural, India is a melting pot of regional languages, customs and classes. It is also a country where things are changing rapidly, with modern ideas co-existing with deeply traditional approaches to business. For instance, startups in a modern metropolis like Bangalore may welcome more informal ways of communication, as compared to an established firm within the textile or aerospace industry, with older people at the helm.
How can your organization stay ahead of the curve and ensure that your company is a part of this global workforce? In this post we will take a look at some intercultural differences that need to be addressed to increase productivity at the workplace and we will focus on French executives working with their Indian counterparts.
Focusing on Indo-French Communication
There are around 600 French companies functioning in India as of now, and with improved trade relations, the landscape is all set to usher in more cross-border initiatives. There is a need for structured training targeting French workers and local Indian employees to foster better communication between both parties.
Not Addressing Cultural Differences Can Lead To A Communication Breakdown
Because cultural norms differ widely, teams can harbour incorrect, stereotypical perceptions about the other, leading to unnecessary conflict and breakdowns in communication. Here are a few examples:
Just Indian Things
Why Not Just Say No?
Westerners usually struggle with understanding why Indians struggle to say no directly when they are unable to take up a project. Indians are famous for being indirect and may offer vague answers like ‘I will see’, ‘Can be done’, ‘Let me check’ or ‘I will get back to you’, when a simple no would suffice. Culturally, refusing to do something outright is seen as rude, overly aggressive and Indians would rather take the easier way out than break with authority and offer an unambiguous reply.
Tackling Personal Questions at the Workplace
The French may also find personal questions at the workplace very hard to deal with. Indians tend to be chatty and may pry into your personal life in an effort to get to know you. Don’t be surprised if a colleague asks you if you are married, calls you home for a festival, or asks you how much rent you pay where you live. Indian employees have a different approach to cultivating relationships at the workplace and less separation between work and their private lives. You will need to acquire the skill to deflect such questions with a smile so you don’t come across as arrogant and rude.
How Indians Perceive Foreigners
On the other hand, Indians too have their own set of challenges to overcome when working with Europeans, who are often seen as being rude, arrogant or unwilling to mingle with the locals. Indian employees also resent having to change the way they behave, and question why they must be the only ones to adapt to the needs of others. While it is hard to radically change one’s behavior, unconscious biases, habits and create a separation between private feelings and public, official requirements, there is a scope to make small changes and adapt - so one can transition seamlessly across cities and continents.
The Solution : Structured Training Workshops
Immersive workshops conducted by experts can aid in erasing these barriers and inculcate better business etiquette. When global leaders take timely and proactive steps to bridge the gap between various stakeholders, interpersonal communication improves and business goals are met efficiently. This helps boost employee morale and leads to improved revenue and productivity for European firms keen to take advantage of the vast opportunities in the Indian market.
The Benefits of Intercultural training
Organising a workshop at your workplace can pay rich benefits. Proactively organising training for incoming French staff and existing Indian employees can lead to:
- Better understanding between cross-cultural teams leads to a more friendly, productive and inclusive workplace
- With greater alignment and shared goals amongst workers, there is a greater likelihood of key outcomes being met on critical projects
- Organizations can avoid expensive delays and communication breakdowns, further down the road
- Empowering individuals and helping them develop the ability to adapt to new situations pays rich dividends in the long run
- These workshops help cultivate leadership skills so your team is equipped to meet strategic goals, and bring your company vision to life
Please do get in touch with Arsha Consulting for an expert seminar tailored to meet your specific business communication needs. Workshops are conducted by native French communication professionals with deep connections in India. Our seminars focus on intercultural learning, organizational culture, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution. case studies, role-plays, and innovative exercises are used in our trainings to bring key learnings to life and solve real-world challenges.
Preeti Prakash | Journalist