World View: Focus on Panama

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Panama wants to increase its higher-skilled jobs, allowing its population to produce finished products for export. This upgrading of skills requires specialized education and training.

Reprinted from “Training: The Source for Professional Developement” by Dr. Neil Orkin

Location, location, location! Panama has been blessed with a perfect location to conduct commercial shipping. A ship can cross from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and vice versa by using the 50-mile waterway known as the Panama Canal. The revenues generated from the canal are critical to the country’s financial success. Panama intends to greatly increase the canal’s capacity by 2014. This unique waterway will have a major impact on the country’s development.

The population of Panama is more than 3.5 million, and it is culturally diverse. It has a very literate population. Spanish is the language of the majority, although some speak English. Banking, farming, and shipping through the canal are its major sources of income.

Where does training fit in? Panama wants to increase its higher-skilled jobs, allowing its population to produce finished products for export. This upgrading of skills requires specialized education and training.

Panama is only a few hours from several major cities in the U.S. It fast is becoming a banking center, as well as a world trade center. Its population is eager to learn. Although there have been anti-American feelings based on past American foreign policy, the opportunity to work for an American firm is greatly valued.

Customer service and management training programs are needed. As finished products are produced in Panama, quality training will be key, as well. Since many employees do not speak English, training in English as a foreign language (EFL) will be needed.

When conducting global training, it is crucial to always be aware of several factors that are present in all cultures. These include:

  • The formality of the culture
  • Language usage
  • The importance of the group
  • How time is treated

Formality: Panama is a country where formality is expected. Trainers are expected to wear a business suit; they do not elicit confidence by dressing down. You should address participants by their last names unless asked to do differently. You will be expected to lecture extensively. The thought is that you are the expert, and your ideas should be heard. Ice-breakers and training games are not viewed positively.

Vocabulary: Check to see if your English is being understood. Although many of your participants will speak English, you may need to adjust your vocabulary. Using computer-generated slides and providing participants with handouts can provide them a better opportunity to learn and retain the course content.

Group Dynamics: The group is important. Participants should not be singled out. Be sure to praise the class as a group.

Timing Is Everything: In terms of time, punctuality is valued in business settings. You are expected to start your training programs on time. Participants will return from class breaks and lunch as asked.

Panama is already a world trade center and quickly becoming an international banking center. With its convenient location, having your organization develop a trained workforce there makes a lot of sense. Its location allows you to provide goods and services worldwide. Latin America is a rapidly growing market. Having a presence there can allow your organization to grow. In short, you can’t afford to overlook the dynamic country of Panama.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

Focus on Boliva

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Training is in its infancy in Bolivia. Most training conducted is technical in nature, but there is a need for supervisory and leadership programs.

Reprinted from “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin

Located in South America, Bolivia is famous for its beautiful topography. The country has both rainforests and one of the largest lakes in the world, Lake Titicaca. Mount Illampu, located on the outskirts of capital La Paz, has an elevation of more than 20,000 feet. Depending on where in the country you are training, be prepared for the high altitude and the need to acclimate yourself to the “thin air.”

The population of Bolivia is approximately 11 million, and it has two capitals. Its administrative capital is La Paz, while Sucre is the constitutional capital. It is bordered by five countries: Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. It is considered to be located in the middle of South America. Bolivia is culturally diverse, with more than 30 languages spoken in the country. Spanish is the language of business.

Bolivia exports mainly oil, natural gas, some textiles, tobacco, agricultural products such as soybeans, minerals such as zinc, and tin.

The global downturn of the last few years has negatively affected Bolivia as it has not been able to maintain and grow its economy. But the Bolivian government has not yet enacted market-oriented reforms. Most developing countries seek to convert their raw materials into finished products, but the Bolivian workforce currently does not have the skills to produce finished higher-level products (computers, electronics, pharmaceuticals, etc.).

CHALLENGES

Bolivia offers many challenges to organizations interested in doing business there. Half of the population lives below the poverty line. Many of these citizens have not received the education needed to compete on a global basis. The middle class is small in Bolivia. The domestic market is limited in purchasing goods and services. Without a well-trained workforce, companies are not able to produce and export the finished goods necessary to grow the economy.

Training is in its infancy in Bolivia, and many Bolivian companies do not offer training to their employees. There is no organizational culture for training. The training that does take place typically is held at the worksite. These companies usually are located in the La Paz, Santa Clara, and Cochabamba areas.

Most training conducted is technical in nature. Classes involving Western management practices, including supervisory and leadership programs, are needed. Computer training also could meet a definite need. Programs in English as a foreign language (EFL) could help globalize Bolivian organizations, as the majority of the workforce does not speak English. Because training resources are not widely available, the cost of training programs is higher than in the U.S. as resources need to be obtained and shipped to Bolivia.

TRAINING TIPS

  • Bolivia is a formal country in terms of dress and how participants need to be addressed. Trainers should wear appropriate business attire, and call participants by their family name unless asked to be less formal.
  • Because English is not widely spoken,all materials need to be translated into Spanish, and trainers need to be fluent in Spanish. If the organization asks you to teach the class in English, you will need to speak a bit slower and include visuals. Also, be sure to gauge if the vocabulary you use is understood by all.
  • Bolivians like training to be action oriented, with most activities involving skills practice in groups. The trainer is not expected to stand in the front and lecture to the class.
  • Singling out individuals is not expected or encouraged. When debriefing activities, you will need to speak about the class as a whole group. Trainers are respected, and a certain distance is expected when feedback is given.

While the lack of a trained workforce and the low standard of living in this country are not easily overcome, change can happen quickly. Currently, neighboring Brazil has a growing middle class and a trained workforce that produces goods and services for some of the largest multinational organizations in the world. This could be Bolivia someday.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

Focus on New Zealand

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Training programs that currently are in demand address management development topics, sales, customer service, and communication and presentation skills.

Reprinted from “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin

New Zealand depends on its export prowess to help keep its economy healthy. The challenge is that its products are mainly agricultural. The New Zealand government wants to change this model to one where its citizens are able to produce and export finished products, which requires a higher skill set.

Watersports, hiking, skiing. For those who love the outdoors and nature, New Zealand is the place to be. New Zealand has a population of 4.5 million. Its citizens boast a high standard of living, and a 99-plus percent literacy rate. English is the main language.

New Zealand depends on its export prowess to help keep its economy healthy. The challenge is that its products are mainly agricultural. Tourism is also a major source of income for this country. The New Zealand government wants to change this model to one where its citizens are able to produce and export finished products, which requires a higher skill set. Producing these finished goods also would allow a much higher revenue stream. Making this transition to a more developed economy is of keen interest to policymakers in this country.

The government is moving toward developing a higher-skilled workforce. Worker training plays a key role in these plans. Companies that invest in training these highly literate employees can experience great business success. In these times of oversaturated home markets and organizational pressures to grow markets, many companies use New Zealand as a base of operations to sell their products and services in Australia, the Far East, and the Pacific Rim.

That said, the costs of training can be higher because of New Zealand’s far-off location, and the transportation costs involved in getting materials there. Training programs usually run two days and are conducted off site at hotels or university learning centers in one of the three largest cities in the country: Wellington, the capital of New Zealand; Auckland; or Christchurch. Training programs that currently are in demand address management development topics, sales, customer service, and communication and presentation skills.

TRAINING TIPS

  • New Zealanders enjoy fast-paced practical Programs. The more “hands on” the better. keep adult learning principles and practices in mind when doing course development. Your participants will respect your expertise, but won’t expect you to conduct a traditional program, with the trainer providing the class with expertise through lecture.
  • Small group activities are welcome and expected But be mindful that participants don’t want to singled out in class keep the group front and center.
  • In One sense New Zealanders are informal but many have a reserved nature. They want to get to know you, but it could take a little while before they start to ask questions. Be patient and flexible.

New Zealand is a beautiful country with a highly literate population that respects and values training. Your organization can build an effective training operation in this country quickly.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

Focus on Ireland

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The Irish government champions and supports training for its citizens.

Reprinted from “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin

Ireland is known for its beautiful scenery. Its coast has been featured in countless movies and books.

In recent years, companies have done business here for many reasons. The Irish are hard-working people and very literate (99 percent literacy rate). Ireland’s main language is English—and it is valued in both its spoken and written form. Ireland has had its share of famous authors, including James Joyce and playwright Samuel Beckett. This serves as a major benefit for North American trainers, who do not need to translate their training content, and can maintain their typical language and speed of delivery.

In addition, Ireland is a member of the European Union. This opens up many business opportunities in Europe with minimal “red tape” for organizations operating here. North American organizations that do business here are well positioned for future growth. For many years, Ireland had the fastest-growing economy in Europe. It experienced a downturn more recently, but business is slowly improving, and the future is bright. Ireland’s highly educated population is skilled in manufacturing higher-order products, including telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.

Ireland’s population is slightly less than five million. Because of its relatively small population, Ireland needs to export products to truly grow its economy. There is an awareness that workers require a higher skill set to compete in the global economy. Irish companies can earn far higher profits selling finished goods as opposed to commodities. Training is needed to allow this change to occur. Businesses will benefit from manufacturing products, and exporting them worldwide. Irish companies have strong reputations and are highly regarded for high-tech products.

The Irish government is willing to invest in the country’s business future and attract new global organizations by providing them with a favorable tax situation. It also champions and supports training for its citizens. Training is needed in topics such as customer service, quality, and leadership.

The main locations for training are the capital, Dublin, and the cities of Cork and Belfast. Training programs often are held in hotels or onsite at the company itself.

TRAINING TIPS
Training in Ireland is similar to training in North America. Trainers should portray themselves as peers to participants. They should position training as a way for adult participants to build knowledge together with the trainer in a collaborative fashion.

Irish participants do not want to be lectured to. Trainers can and should introduce small group work. The Irish are an outgoing people and will want to participate in training programs. Let participants realize they should not be afraid to speak out and voice their opinions. They should be told that there are no bad questions. This will give them permission to be themselves.

This is an informal culture. Participants will be fine being on a first-name basis with trainers. Although individualism is highly valued, be careful with overt praise. “Showing off” is not appreciated. Trainers should observe and monitor reactions and adjust their feedback style accordingly.

It’s also important to have clear ground rules for the format and schedule of the training. Participants value the structure and organization trainers provide them.

For global organizations looking for growth opportunities, having a presence in Ireland can help them build a strong presence in Europe and beyond.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

World View: Focus on Peru

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Most training programs run one to two days and are conducted in major cities, especially Lima.

Reprinted from “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin

Peru is a country with tremendous natural resources, especially metals such as gold and copper. It is a land famous for the advances of the Incas, who had one of the most sophisticated cultures the world has known. With a population of 29 million and a location next to one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, Brazil, Peru is a land global organizations need to watch.

Education is valued here. The Peruvian government understands that having a better-educated workforce will enable its citizens to do higher-level work and develop finished products for export. There is a shortage of engineers and scientists in Peru, which has hampered the development of its economy. Peru has experienced a large trade imbalance for many years. This is the result of exporting agricultural products and minerals, and importing finished goods. The Peruvian government believes that opening up the country to global trade (Peru has signed several trade agreements with other countries) and upgrading the education of its people can help turn things around.

Poverty is an issue for many of its citizens. Basic living conditions such as having clean water and adequate waste disposal are often not available.

Because the middle class is small and growing slowly, companies face several challenges here, including:

  1. The population does not have the disposable income to purchase many goods and services.
  2. The majority of the workforce does not have the skill set to manufacture finished goods for export.

The State of Training

The training industry in Peru is not as developed as in other countries. Most of the training is conducted in major cities, especially Lima. One- to two-day programs are popular. Comprehensive needs assessments should give your organization a clear understanding of what should be offered. Often, giving your workforce a through grounding in problem-solving, quality, and oral and written communication can make a difference. Don’t assume your Peruvian workforce is familiar with topics that are well known in your regular training. Although many of the “elite” in this country have studied abroad, expect the majority of your trainees to not speak English. You will need to watch your vocabulary and your rate of speed when presenting information. Using slides and visuals can greatly increase comprehension and
retention of your material.

Cross-Cultural Business Tips

Time: Although you will be expected to be on time to meetings, functions, etc., expect your Peruvian workforce to be late often.

Formality: This is a formal culture. Trainers are respected and are expected to lead the class. Minimize group work and use family names when addressing participants.

Group: This is a group-oriented culture, so you should not single out individuals.

Decision-Making: Trainers are expected to make all classroom-related decisions.

Costs: Keep in mind that the costs for a training program in Peru typically will be higher than usual. Most training materials need to be brought in.

Training in Peru can be challenging, but over time, as the country builds its economy, your organization will be well situated for global success.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success. Global Training Sytems in partnership with Badiyan Inc. has developed a global e-learning performance management program to take global business understanding to the next level.

Focus on Iceland

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Reading is a national pastime in Iceland—in fact, there are more bookstores in Iceland per capita than any country on Earth.

Reprinted from “Training: The Source for Professional Development” July/August 2016 p. 15 — Article Author: By Dr. Neil Orkin, President, Global Training Systems

Iceland is in the North Atlantic, a threehour flight by plane to Western Europe. It has a population of approximately 330,000, which is tiny by any measure. To put things in perspective, New York City has a population of more than 8.4 million. The capital of Iceland is Reykjavik, which has a population of approximately 120,000.

In the past, Iceland’s main product was its fishing industry. Most recently, the Icelandic government has been an advocate for the development and exportation of finished products such as those in financial services, pharmaceuticals, and software design and development. This change in product mix necessitated a highly trained workforce. Training has been a beneficiary of this new mindset. Currently, the majority of Icelanders work in the service industry.

Training programs usually are conducted in hotels or onsite at the company. Most training tends to be held in the bigger cities, Reykjavik in particular. Icelandic firms fully believe in on-the-job training. Even so, the most popular training programs are those on management, leadership, and quality (Six Sigma).

Trainees most likely will speak English, along with their native language of Icelandic and at least one other language. Icelanders are informal. Expect to address students by their first names. The trainer serves as the facilitator; you will not be expected to lecture. Small group work is valued. Icelanders like to be presented with content, given the opportunity to practice in small groups, and then allowed to debrief the activity as a class. Individualism is prized. Iceland is a highly technical culture. Students will feel comfortable with any technology you present them with. As a result of these factors, you will be able to present your training programs with minimal modifications.

KEY ASPECTS OF ICELANDIC CULTURE

Education Encouragement: Icelanders do not pay for education at any level. Iceland has one of the highest literacy rates in the world—99 percent. Reading is a national pastime; in fact, there are more bookstores in Iceland per capita than any country on Earth.

Being Green: Iceland uses hydrothermal and geothermal resources for energy. This has freed the country from being completely dependent on energy imports. It is also a clean, non-polluting energy source.

Opportunities for Women: Iceland supports and advocates for women’s rights. Women are represented at all levels in both the public and private sectors. Iceland has had a female head of state. Maternity and paternity leaves are fully funded and used by the workforce.

Free Health Care: Icelanders are some of the longest-living people on the planet. They are able to utilize medical services free of financial concerns.

Language Power: Icelanders are encouraged to be bilingual at a minimum. Global professionals need to know languages and cultures to be truly effective in global business.

No Military: While this is not possible in many parts of the world, Iceland is aided by its isolation. Not having a standing military allows it to utilize these funds in other ways to benefit its citizens.

Connection to Nature: Icelanders enjoy spending time in nature (i.e., lakes, mountains, forests, etc.), which centers them for their workday stresses.

Flat Tax: International studies have recognized Iceland as having one of the most egalitarian cultures in the world. Corporate taxes are reasonable, as well.

Sense of Community: Icelanders believe they can access the support of family and friends during life’s challenges.

Is it any wonder Iceland was named the world’s third happiest country, according to the World Happiness Report Update 2016? There are lessons to be learned there.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

Focus on Norway

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Popular training programs in Norway include Six Sigma, customer service, presentation skills, communication skills, and leadership.

Reprinted from “Training: The source for Professional Development” Article Author: Dr. Neil Orkin

A country famous for its islands, forests, and fjords, Norway never ceases to amaze the world, especially during the Winter Olympics. Her graceful athletes usually win countless gold medals based on their great skill and connection to the land. This country has a population of approximately 5 million and is blessed with natural resources. Your organization will benefit greatly by doing business in this Scandinavian paradise. Building your training capacity here can benefit your company in myriad ways.

Norway is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It is known for having a 100 percent literacy rate, a corruption-free political and business environment, and one of the highest per capita income levels in the world. The United Nations Human Development Index ranks Norway as No. 1 in the world for its standard of living. Norwegians receive free health and education benefits, as well as robust pensions. It is an egalitarian society with a large middle class. Norway is famous for the fairness and opportunities it provides all its citizens. The current prime minister is a female, and women are well represented throughout society.

Unemployment in Norway is less than 3 percent, and the country has benefited from huge oil and gas reserves. Norway has a defined savings plan for its citizens known as the Government Petroleum fund. The largest producer of aluminum in Western Europe, Norway maintains a global trade surplus. Its telecommunications network is one of the most modern in the world, and more than 80 percent of its citizens speak English.

Norway’s location provides access to many markets throughout Europe, including Russia. Although many of the area countries have experienced economic challenges, the timing is perfect to enter these markets prior to the expected area business growth.

Popular training programs in Norway include Six Sigma, customer service, presentation skills, communication skills, and leadership. Norwegians feel comfortable with their approach to business but are always interested in how successful North American companies operate and train their leaders. Your training costs for all programs will be 15 to 20 percent more than in the United States, but your return on investment will be well worth the effort.

TRAINING TIPS

  • Most, if not all, of your participants will speak English, but avoid idioms and keep your language as clear and straightforward as possible as participants may not be entirely familiar with your vocabulary and delivery. Use slides and handouts containing the content you’ll deliver to help reinforce your message.
  • During your program, trainer-directed communication is expected as participants want to learn from the trainer.
  • Norwegians tend to be reserved and strive to avoid confrontation. If a trainee is being quiet, be careful not to push him or her to participate.
  • During your program, be careful not to focus on a particular participant for praise. This could make the participant and group uncomfortable. If positive recognition is deserved, praise the specific group, not the individual.
  • Norwegians are comfortable working in groups. They also like to be treated as individuals, so the proper balance between these two approaches can be key to the success of your program.
  • Norwegians are often private, so “ice-breakers” and questioning participants about their personal life and families is not welcomed.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

Successful Repatriate Training

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The retention of corporate professionals after a global assignment is key to the future success of your global organization. How can you minimize the challenges that your repatriate employees face after returning from an overseas assignment? How can the knowledge they have learned abroad be transferred and shared? These five steps can help.

1. Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock. Until fairly recently, the idea of offering training to professionals who were coming home was considered odd. Repatriates were often thrown back into their jobs with no discussion of their international assignments. Research has shown that a home culture can seem strange after having spent a period of time negotiating a new culture. Providing repatriates with an outlet to discuss their feelings can be crucial to successful repatriation.

2. Transferring knowledge. Sound repatriate training should include time for the repatriate to discuss how to transfer the knowledge he or she has learned. This may best be done on an informal, just-in-time basis during a special project, or during meetings with the boss, or during special meetings of their team.

3. Mentoring expatriates. The repatriate can serve a key role in helping the organization develop a global workforce by serving as a mentor to expatriates going to the same country or part of the world. The information exchange between the repatriate and expatriate can help ensure a positive experience for the expatriate by alerting him or her to the challenges faced when working abroad.

4. Conducting repatriate forums. Organizing a group of repatriates who can share their knowledge of international business during regularly scheduled presentations gives a clear signal to all employees that global experience is valued. In addition, the networking between repatriates can help your organization build a more satisfied global workforce.

The strain and uncertainty of the overseas assignment can be reduced when the expatriate knows what career opportunities are available upon return. This knowledge also can create a much smoother transition once the employee returns home.

To remain competitive globally, organizations need to make it clear to all employees that global experiences are encouraged. One way to do that is through an organizational design that promotes international assignments. Another way is to provide repatriate training programs.

Too often, repatriate professionals leave their organizations because they feel that their knowledge is undervalued. These five steps can help prevent this from occurring.

Neil S. Orkin is a principal with Global Training Systems, a global management consulting firm specializing in human resource development located in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Successful Repatriate Training, Neil S. Orkin, Performance in Practice, Reprinted with the permission of the American Society for Training and Development, Alexandria, Virginia.

Six Steps to Successful Global Succession Planning

global succession planningA hot topic in human resources development circles has been global succession planning. How can companies best meet their human resources development needs abroad and track the global skills of their people? How can a global professional be kept connected to the home office and satisfied with their job and organization? Here are six steps to help you with this important challenge.

1) Database Management Systems – Organizations need systems that note the international work experience and foreign language skills of employees. Training professionals need to be able to make ad hoc queries on a computer to get employee profile information. Windows based programs exist that can make the job of finding the appropriate professional much easier.

2) Selection – Interview candidates to verify their interest in a foreign assignment. The professional may not feel that the assignment is a good fit for his or her current professional and personal situation. It is far better to have this information before the employee is chosen than to risk a failed assignment which can be extremely costly for both the individual and the organization.

3) Mentoring Programs – Providing the global professional with a mentor is critical to the success of the assignment. The mentor, ideally someone at a higher level in the organization who has completed a successful international assignment, can inform the professional on how to navigate his or her assignment and also let the professional know what is happening back at the home office.

4) Keeping in Touch – By installing a computer or fax machine in an expatriate’s home, he or she can receive daily messages from the home office. This helps keep him or her informed and feeling part of the team. Some firms have created special newsletters for expatriates to help them stay current with organization news and information. Certainly, regularly scheduled trips back to the home office so the employee can be briefed on important company news and meet with his or her mentor is key.

5) Repatriation – The organization needs to sit down with repatriates and help them map out a personal action plan noting the challenges they feel they may face. Another challenge is deciding how the knowledge and information that repatriates have gained can best be shared with home-office professionals.

6) Retention – It is not uncommon for repatriates to leave the organization after an overseas assignment. Losing a key global professional can be very costly. Having a clear career path for repatriates is critical, as is allowing them to serve as mentors and providing a forum for them to share the knowledge they have gained with future expatriates.

Following these six steps will allow your organization to become more global and enable you to develop and retain a team of global professionals.

Neil S. Orkin is a principal with Global Training Systems, a global management consulting firm specializing in human resource development located in Hillsborough, New Jersey.

Speaking to Global Audiences

As speaking professionals we recognize how important it is to understand our audience and to customize our message to the groups we are speaking to. When presenting abroad or here in the United States, it is key that we have an awareness of the non-native speaker of English and prepare our speeches accordingly. Here are a few simple steps we can take to maximize the impact our presentations have with global audiences.

Intercultural Communication Issues

TIME ISSUES: It is not unusual for speakers to want to include a lot of information in their speeches. This can be very problematic when speaking globally. Listening to a speech in a second language can be very tiring, so the shorter and more direct your presentation is the better. When conducting seminars allow plenty of time for covering each section of your program and for questions. Give participants time to “recharge” with adequate breaks.

VISUALS: The use of visuals is always important. Remember to include pictures and diagrams to help you present your message. These diagrams can help your audience follow your talk particularly if the visuals are clear and not too cluttered.

LANGUAGE: Try not to use jokes because humor can be very place specific and may not travel well. The same goes for idioms and slang. It may be useful for you to tape yourself before giving your presentation to “weed out” your use of idioms and slang. This language can be very confusing to your global audience. Americans tend to drop word endings particularly final consonants, which can make what you are saying difficult for your audience to follow. Another common problem when speaking to global audiences is speaking too quickly. We really need to remember to slow our rate of speech down.

OBSERVE YOUR AUDIENCE: It is key to observe your audience when giving your presentation. Don’t be impatient, and be willing to adjust your delivery based on audience reaction. Your audience will appreciate the effort you took to customize your keynote presentation.

By following these four simple steps you will notice that your audiences have more energy and will be understanding your message much better. This will definitely be worth the changes made.

Reprinted from Liberty Bell Newsletter. A Publication of the Liberty Bell Speakers Association, a Chapter of the National Speakers Association.

Focus on Finland

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Training costs may be higher in Finland, but this is balanced by the low-risk environment and excellent growth potential.

Reprinted: “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin, July/August 2014

Finland is well known for its strong social welfare system and advanced standard of living. The government provides free higher education, a comprehensive health-care system, lengthy vacations, and well-funded pensions to the Finn people. This system gives Finns a great sense of personal security and pride in their country.

Finland tops the charts on almost every possible country ranking. It is one of the most literate countries in the world and has one of the highest per capita incomes. It often ranks as the least corrupt and most transparent civilization in the world and has ranked as the most democratic country in the world. Women participate at all levels in Finnish society. The environment is respected and protected through the legal system. Known for its beautiful mountains, forests, and lakes, the Finnish landscape is breathtaking.

Finland is one of the easiest countries in the world to do business in. The Finnish government believes in legal protection for organizations. On a per capita basis, Finland may have the highest cell phone and Internet usage in the world. As a result, the Finnish people are technologically advanced, which can provide a great competitive advantage to companies that maintain a Finnish workforce.

The population of Finland is only approximately 5 million. The main language of Finland is Finnish, but English is widely spoken and taught in the schools. This serves as a major benefit to North American trainers, who do not need to translate their training materials.

Finland holds a strategic location in Europe. By having a presence here, your organization will have easy access to Russia, Eastern Europe, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. These are all areas of the world with great growth potential for your organization. By virtue of its membership in the European Union, Finland has free trade opportunities throughout Europe. By doing business in Finland, your company will have access to a well-trained, professional, English-speaking workforce. This workforce has top computer skills, and is fully supported by the Finnish government. Finland wants to make it easy for your organization to do business here.

WHERE DOES TRAINING FIT IN?
Because of its small population, Finland needs to export products to truly grow its economy. There is awareness that workers require higher skills to compete in the global economy. Finnish companies can earn far higher profits selling finished goods as opposed to commodities. Training is needed to allow this change to occur. Your business will benefit from manufacturing products, and exporting them worldwide.

The Finnish government is well aware that continual training is required for its citizens to stay on the cutting edge of technology. Training is needed in topics as diverse as critical thinking, creative problem solving, quality (including Six Sigma), leadership, and advanced presentation skills.

The main locations for training are in the following major Finnish cities: Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa, Oulu, Turku, and Malmo. These programs often are held in hotel conference centers. Larger organizations often conduct training sessions onsite. Your training costs may be higher in Finland, but this is balanced by the low-risk environment and excellent growth potential.

TRAINING TIPS

Training in Finland can be different from training in North America. The Finnish people are very reserved and quiet, and they appreciate “silence.” Other tips:

  • Address your participants by their last name.
  • Do not single anyone out for praise.
  • Do not expect Finns to share information about their families during training. This type of information is considered private.
  • Instructor-led training is the norm.
  • Have clear ground rules as to the structure and schedule of the training.
  • Using slides and providing participants with handouts can help them learn best. You may need to adjust the speed and delivery of your material until you are clear on participants’ English comprehension as English most likely is not their first language.
  • There is a good chance that your participants will not ask you many questions. This is a part of the Finnish culture, and needs to be respected.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

World View: Focus on Poland

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Among the most-needed training programs are those focused on customer service, as this concept did not exist under the Communist reign.

Reprinted: “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin,

With a population of more than 38 million, Poland is not culturally diverse—it is almost 100 percent ethnic Polish. Poland’s history has been strongly affected by its location between Germany and Russia. Prior to 1990, Poland was a Communist country with a planned economy. For the last 20-plus years, it has been a market-oriented, capitalistic land. Although the Polish leadership strives for an open economy, this change has been slow and not easy for the population. It is, in effect, a “work in progress.”

Despite the global downturn of the last few years, the country has been able to maintain and grow its economy. A major prize for the Polish nation was gaining membership in the EU in 2004, which connected it to all of Europe.

Most developing countries want to convert their raw materials into finished products. Poland is no exception, and has had great success in exporting machinery and transport equipment. Still, there is an awareness that a large percentage of its population works in agriculture, and this needs to change for it to have long-lasting global business success. Having a better trained workforce will be the difference in their future success.

One positive of the Polish workforce is an almost universal literacy rate. The Polish people are comfortable working together, and education is valued. There is a great interest in everything Western, and an interest in learning from Western organizations.

Among the most-needed training programs are those focused on customer service, as this concept did not exist under the Communist reign. Communication skills, presentation skills, and creative problem-solving are key, because under the prior system individuality was not highly valued. Western management practices, including supervisory and leadership programs, are in great demand. Programs in English as a foreign language (EFL) are wanted and necessary as much of the workforce does not speak English. The large number of English language schools in the major cities attest to this training need.

Because training resources are not widely available, the cost of training programs will be higher than in the U.S. as resources will need to be obtained and then shipped to Poland.

Training Tips

  • Poland is a formal country in terms of dress and how participants need to be addressed. Trainers should wear appropriate business attire, and call participants by their family name unless asked to be less formal.
  • English is not widely spoken. Your rate of speed will need to be slower than you may be used to.
  • Include many visuals. Be sure to gauge if the vocabulary you use is well understood by all.
  • The Polish people are much more group oriented than typical American participants. Singling out individuals is not expected.
  • Trainers are respected, and expected to use a more formal lecturing style.
  • Training programs often are held on two to four consecutive days. The location depends on the training space a firm has. Holding a program outside the office in a hotel is looked at favorably.

Building a presence in Poland will give organizations a critical entry point into the European Community and beyond. All global organizations need to enter this market. The time is now.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

World View: Focus on Chile

chile-flag

Government policies are being structured to develop a computer- and science-oriented market, for which training is needed.

Reprinted from “Training” 03/24/2011 by Dr. Neil Orkin

Chile has one of the most vibrant economies in the world. In fact, it may be the strongest economy in South America, and it is well positioned to continue its growth in the coming years. Chileans are a proud people. The rescue of the Chilean miners last year gave the world a positive look at the culture of this fascinating country.

The population of Chile is more than 17 million, and its capital is the city of Santiago. It is clear that the management of the economy in this country has been successful. Inflation has been controlled, government savings and investment plans have been prudent, and the country encourages global trade. Chile trades with dozens of countries worldwide.

Chile is the biggest exporter of copper in the world. Up to 30 percent of its revenues comes from this mineral. However, the government is interested in reducing its dependence on copper. More than 90 percent of the population is literate, and government policies are being structured to increase opportunities in other business areas, especially the development of a computer- and science-oriented market. For success in this area, higher-order skills are needed, which is where training comes in.

The typical training program in this country is one to three days; online training also has become popular. Solid, practical programs are in demand. There is a great interest in management development and leadership development for management. Corporate professionals are looking for communication skills improvement classes, business writing, and customer service workshops. Both groups want creative, problem-solving programs. Chileans are life long-learners, and appear to enjoy continuing their education.

The cost of training in Chile depends on the number of people registered. Typically, the investment is less than that in North America, and the return on investment is high.

Training Tips

  • Remember that Chileans can be quiet and at times formal. Learners are often reserved. Working together in groups usually is well received.
  • Be careful about your use of small talk. Steer away from talk of politics, crime, and religion. Do your best to listen actively.
  • Personal space is treated quite differently in Chile, with individuals standing much closer than in the U.S.
  • Because many of your participants may not speak English, you will need to regulate your language when talking to others. Speak slower, simplify your vocabulary, use visuals, and help those in need of assistance by using active listening.
  • Chileans like structure, so be as organized with your materials as possible.
  • Let them know when the test will be, and what to expect.

By following these tips, you can win in the new global economy. Chile will be on the world stage for many years. Understanding how to best meet Chile’s learning needs can help you succeed and prosper in the years ahead.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

World View: Focus on Indonesia

cross cultural training indonesia
You can’t go into the Indonesian market with 
a “business-as-usual” attitude when it comes to training.

Reprinted: “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin

From the beaches of Bali to the high energy of the capital city of Jakarta, Indonesia is a fascinating country. It is the fourth most populous country in the world, with a population of more than 230 million and 280-plus different ethnic groups, so organizations are interested in tapping this marketplace. Indonesia also is the largest Muslim country in the world. By selling to this large market, or exporting products from there, global companies see participation in this economy as critical to their global business 
success.

This land is blessed with tremendous natural resources, including vast amounts of oil. Indonesia is a member of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). With an ideal global location, and reasonable labor costs, global organizations cannot ignore this country. The 
Indonesian government has opened the country to foreign investment and has made great strides in developing its economy.

The State of Training in Indonesia

It is clear to the Indonesian leadership that training is key to the country’s success. In the past, the Indonesian business model was to export agricultural products, oil, and minerals, and to import finished goods such as machinery, computers, and processed foods. The government wants to turn this formula around by exporting higher-value finished products. As such, the labor force needs to be trained to develop and produce these goods, and a higher level of skills is needed. Currently, nearly 50 percent of the workforce is involved in agriculture, and many feel this ratio needs to be greatly lowered.

Education is valued in this country. The literacy rate is more than 90 percent. Indonesians are 
eager to learn, and they understand why training can help them prosper in the workforce. Organizations have been pleased about this positive attitude toward training. Still, to run effective training, 
adjustments must be made. If you go into this market with a “business-as-usual” attitude, you will fail.

Training Tips

Most training programs in this country are 
short and focused; two- to three-day programs are popular. The most requested topics are strategic management, customer service, leadership, and sales and marketing. Some tips:

  • Cutting-edge concepts are expected.
  • This culture is formal, and the trainer is 
expected to lead. Small group discussion should be minimized. “Ice breakers” and games often are not appreciated.
  • English is not the first language in this country. Although many of the “elite” in this country have studied abroad, expect the 
majority of your trainees to not speak English. You will need to watch your vocabulary and your rate of speed when presenting information. Extensive use of visuals can greatly increase comprehension and retention of your material.
  • This is a group-oriented culture. Do not single out a student for praise or constructive feedback. Always include the group.
  • Age and job title are greatly respected. Do not call trainees by their first names unless invited to do so. Be aware of the “small talk” you use when interacting with your trainees. Do not talk about religion, politics, or family life if you want to connect with your trainees.
  • Silence is valued in this culture. Avoid filling the quiet in the room with words as your trainees may like to think about your questions before they respond. Keep in mind that they also may be quiet if they disagree with your point of view. It often is felt that challenging the trainer is disrespectful and harmful to the training environment.

Indonesia will remain an important country for your organization in the coming years. Having a corporate presence in this country is valuable to your company, and cultural diversity skills will be of great value to the trainer in Indonesia.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

World View: Focus on China

cross cultural training in china

The need for workers able to do higher skilled work is a big reason for the great interest in training in this country.

Reprinted: “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin, 07/28/2008

China has a population of more than 1 billion people. It is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The culture embraces Confucianism, a philosophy that stresses harmony, respect, and education. China is experiencing great growth and expansion in its economy. The production and selling of products worldwide has become a priority. The first Chinese products available in North America were textiles. Now it is not unusual to find complex electronic products such as computers that are made in China and sold in the U.S. The need for workers able to do higher skilled work is a big reason for the great interest in training in China.

Training costs in China are comparable to those in the U.S. and at times can be slightly lower. Programs in demand include those that address American business practices, customer service, accounting, supervisory skills, management development, communication skills, and Six Sigma.

Several cultural differences exist when conducting training programs in China:

– Trainers are highly respected in this culture. This culture believes the way to get ahead and succeed in life is through training and education. Your participants most likely will welcome the opportunity to take part in your training program.

– Trainees expect the trainer to lead the class as the expert, and lecture is the preferred delivery method.

– Harmony and order are valued in China. Your trainees do not want to stand out. Make sure not to highlight the performance of any one individual. This praise could cause the individual and class to feel uncomfortable. Always focus on group performance.

– Although China is a group-oriented culture, try to minimize your use of small group discussions. There is a belief that learning is more powerful when the knowledge comes from the trainer as opposed to the trainees. One interesting note: Even though China is a group-oriented culture, coaching is becoming increasingly popular. Chinese professionals feel they can learn new skills quickly through the individual attention coaching programs provide.

– Because relationships are critical in this culture, tell your trainees about yourself and your organization. The participants in your program will expect you to share this information right from the start.

– As China has a formal culture, it is critical for the trainer to address program participants correctly. Always start by using your trainees’ last names first. If they want you to address them differently, they will let you know.

You may experience several training challenges while conducting your program. Because trainees may not want to “disrupt” the class, they may not share their views on the program content, especially if there is a disagreement on the information covered. It also could be challenging to open the participant up to another viewpoint. Language could come into play if the trainee doesn’t understand English well, and is reluctant to let the trainer know about a lack of comprehension. The trainer will need to adjust his or her vocabulary to ensure that participants have a clear understanding of English.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

Training World View: Focus on Japan

cross cultural training in Japan

Japan has a thirst for knowledge, with many training and learning ideas incorporated from other cultures.

Reprinted from “Training” 02/06/2008 by Dr. Neil Orkin

Japan is one of the top training locations in the world. This country the size of California with a population of more than 128 million and few natural resources recognizes the value of education. Japan has a thirst for knowledge, with many training and learning ideas incorporated from other cultures. Children in Japan take after-school enrichment classes from the earliest grades. Literacy in Japan is universal, and great importance is placed on academic success.

Most organizations have comprehensive training programs. The Japanese automotive companies have had such successful training programs that many American companies are interested in learning about Japanese training content and methods (think The Toyota Way). And while the Japanese feel comfortable with their approach to business, they are always interested in how successful North American companies operate and train their leaders. As a result, popular training programs in Japan often deal with presentation skills, creativity, communication skills, and leadership.

Although training costs for all programs can run 15 to 20 percent more in Japan than in the U.S., your return on investment will be well worth the effort. To get the most out of your training, you will need to tailor it to your participants. Here are some tips that can help ensure you will experience global business success with your training interventions in Japan:

– Eliminate the use of “ice breakers” at the beginning of your session. Asking participants to give brief introductions of themselves is the preferred approach; ideally, this could be done at a function prior to the training.

– Address trainees by their last name followed by san. If I were a Japanese trainee, I would be called Orkin-san. Name cards with the students’ first names noted are inappropriate.

– Maintain trainer-directed communication as participants want to learn from the trainer. The Japanese are comfortable working in groups; this is a common practice in Japanese culture. Mixing trainer lectures with group work is the best way to conduct your program.

– Be careful not to focus on a particular participant for praise. This could make the participant and group uncomfortable. If positive recognition is deserved, praise the specific group—not the individual.

– When pacing your program, realize that time is looked at in a much more fluid way in Japan than in North America. According to research into the daily behavior of Japanese senior executives, they are much less event focused than North American senior executives. If important points are being discussed in a meeting, Japanese executives will stay at the meeting, while their American counterparts will move on to the next meeting scheduled for the day. Of course, as a trainer you want to cover all your program content, but to get the most out of the program and increase trainee satisfaction and retention of content, you may need to slightly adjust your schedule to allow trainees to get the most value out of each of the covered modules. Questions to the trainer should be fully addressed before moving on to the next section of your program.

– Be aware of potential training challenges such as trainees being very quiet, which may make it difficult to gauge participant understanding. Your use of language is key. Although English is studied for many years in the Japanese educational system, many of your trainees may not feel comfortable speaking or understanding English. Avoid idioms, and keep your language as clear and straightforward as possible.

– Remember that in Japan, there is almost no separation between work and after work. Don’t run back to your hotel room at the end of the day. Eating a meal or singing karaoke (English songs are available) with your trainees can have a huge positive impact on the program atmosphere and your connection with program participants.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.