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Globalization has made the world a smaller place and presented organizations with unique opportunities and access to a diverse cross-section of talent. Employees have benefited, too, by leveraging technology to design the work-life balance they crave.
We may have broken down geographical barriers, but our planet is still home to a dynamic collection of distinct languages and cultures. If your company is to thrive in this internationalized landscape, you must have a localization strategy to train your employees in place, one that goes beyond basic translation and taps into key cultural nuances.
Training is crucial to your organization’s success – 94 percent of workers say they stay at companies longer when their employers actively participated in their learning. What’s more, higher-skilled employees mean better service, greater customer retention, and ultimately, a higher bottom line.
Here are six tips your company can follow to develop a localization strategy for training and eLearning content, that is both effective and scalable.
1. Create training with localization front of mind
A successful localization strategy starts with a robust foundation. So, when developing training materials, keep future localization needs front of mind.
Most organizations create their training content in International English, as it has the highest number of first- and second-language speakers around the world. If English is your native language, refrain from including idioms (e.g., break a leg, a dime a dozen), colloquialisms (e.g., ain’t, gonna), and country-specific references (e.g., the President). When the time comes, these make translation more time-consuming and difficult.
Further, build a logical structure for your training course – a framework that will remain the same across your global workplaces. How you present information to learners is critical to their understanding of the content and its broader context, especially for remote employees working through course material independently.
2. Play by the 80-20 rule
Also called the Pareto Principle, the 80-20 rule suggests that 80 percent of outputs result from 20 percent of inputs. In a learning environment, it asserts that in most cases, 20 percent of the training content achieves 80 percent of the desired outcome.
How does this impact your company’s approach to its localization strategy for training? It means that translating all of your educational content may not be the most economical, effective, or efficient method of localization. Instead, if you focus on the core 20 percent of your training material, you can more thoroughly meet regional needs and deliver a finished product faster. In short, less work for a better result.
For example, if you are localizing a training video, the most crucial elements to adapt are visuals and narration. If you have created the video with cultural neutrality in mind (see: point 1), the visuals can likely remain the same. Then, your focus can center on translating the narration and adjusting the content for cultural preferences in partnership with a native speaker.
3. Be culturally aware
Language is only one side of the story. Culture plays a significant role in successful localization for global training, so be aware, open-minded, and willing to adapt your training style.
Here are three cultural considerations to incorporate in your training strategy:
- Be cautious when making jokes – what is funny in one part of the world may be offensive in another. That’s not to say you should not use humor to delight employees. One study found that humor reduces learner stress, makes a course more engaging, and improves information recall.
- Be emotionally intelligent. In some cultures, shyness is interpreted as disinterest and rudeness. In others, expressions of frustration and anger are not appropriate in a workplace setting.
- Be mindful of management styles. Typically, Westerners adopt a top-down management style. In East Asian countries, for example, mid-level management consensus is the norm. What’s more, context-conscious cultures prefer clear rules and unambiguous leadership styles.
These three concerns are the tip of the iceberg. Unintentional insensitivity can ruin a trainee’s experience and potentially mar your company’s reputation, and references that your audience cannot relate to distract from your core messaging.
4. Do not forget about logistics
Culture and language are vital but do not forget about the practicalities and logistics of training international employees. Different regions have different capabilities, and it’s your company’s responsibility to rethink the tools and processes it uses to deliver training to meet those needs.
First, do not assume that workflows are consistent across your global offices. Investigate how employees actually do their jobs in the workplaces you are targeting with training materials.
Then, consider available technology. Do learners have reliable access to the internet to attend your live training sessions? Do they have high enough connection speeds to stream your training videos? Do they have consistent access to a computer or smartphone? You don’t want to waste your resources on a training course that your intended audience cannot access.
5. Localize measurement, too
Training employees without measuring progress is like driving blind. So as you develop your localization strategy, adapt both quantitative and qualitative measurement methodologies and metrics, too.
Ideally, metrics should be consistent across all regions your company operates in to allow for benchmarking, employee group comparison, and the identification of knowledge gaps. Key performance metrics include completion rate, engagement, learner feedback, and test results.
6. Seek professional guidance from a localization specialist
An effective localization strategy for training, if done correctly, can open doors for your organization and drive growth. However, when poorly executed, you risk offending employees, miscommunicating key duties, and disappointing your customers.
Do not rely on Google Translate. Instead, seek professional guidance from eLearning localization professionals that can incorporate appropriate terminology, cultural and custom variations, and other regional nuances into your training materials. With localization experts by your side, your employees will be equipped with the practical knowledge they need to do their best work.
Don’t allow your message to be lost in translation. Collaborate with Commit Global and deliver best-in-class eLearning content adapted for global audiences. Contact our friendly team today to learn more about thriving in today’s international business landscape.