Mindset India - Interkulturelles Training, interkulturelles Coaching und interkulturelle Beratung für Indien

Bilateral intercultural trainings are a must: thoughts after a training series in India

After a long period of planning a customer of ours, an MNC with German roots, decided to send me to India to extend their Global training program to the Indian companies they have acquired quite a while ago. Prior to that we have been conducting cultural trainings for employees in Germany, the Netherlands, and Japan to prepare them for collaborating with their new Indian colleagues as well as taken part in the selection and training process for their internship program which also includes 6 six month deployment to India, after which quite a lot have been hired.

Many of the Western employees thought it “unjust” that they should have to adapt to their Indian colleagues who were supposedly allowed to do business as usual - the Indian way. In the intercultural trainings and lectures I held for that MNC many complaints about communication difficulties (and even breakdowns) were voiced, about the differences in time and task management, and unintelligible Indian accents. Though the lateral training for the Germans,the Dutch, and the Japanese did help them understand their Indian colleagues, it was clear from the beginning that bilateral cultural trainings would be required to overcome communication obstacles and find a new balance between the different cultures. I was very excited when I got the news that finally a training series for the Indian companies had been approved. Though the planning took five years, the program was to be executed rather short notice (1 and a half month). Luckily, flexibility is one of our strong points at Mindset India!

It was highly interesting to see the Indian companies that I heard so much about in the previous trainings and lectures for their Western counterparts first hand. The Indian companies in Chennai and Pune had obviously undergone a painstaking learning process in the last five years adapting more to their Western and Japanese colleagues by aligning processes and improving internal communication processes, and establishing “intercultural interfaces”. In spite of these internal efforts, Corporate HR saw the need for an external trainer who has been involved with the companies for many years to supply the Indian organization with additional intercultural communication training.

The employees of the Indian companies themselves showed a keen interest in the training program which they expressed repeatedly in the pre-training questionnaires we send out as well as in the trainings. It was a great experience as a trainer to have such an eager audience who considered it a distinction to be trained by a German trainer. The attitude towards HR development programs in general is very welcoming in India. Individual participants seem to see the development programs as a chance to gain skills and knowledge that will help furthering their careers. My design of the training program which was based predominantly on exercises, introspection, group work, role plays was very appreciated as well. It seemed that in these companies employees were used to school like learning events.

My Indian participants were often puzzled by the actions and reactions of their Western (German, Dutch, and US American colleagues) and welcomed the intercultural concepts and communication guidelines I gave them in the training as help to decipher the mindset of their Western counterparts. With the Indian companies of this particular MNC but also with all the other Indian companies I worked with, there always seemed to be a genuine desire to do it right, to deliver good work, and to have a good working relationship with the Western colleagues. Something, one would not have guessed when hearing the accounts of the Germans, Dutch, US Americans, and the Japanese. It goes to show how tricky cross-cultural communication can be!

It became very obvious that one-way training programs are not ideal. Team trainings would be the weapon of choice to afford multinational/multicultural team members the opportunity to develop a common language, common symbols and thus a common organizational subculture. As team trainings are often too costly when not only the management team is involved, simultaneous bilateral training program are the next best choice.

Raising awareness for cultural differences and finding a language to grasp culture as a phenomenon is among the objectives of such a cultural training as well as helping participants to develop their abilities to communicate and collaborate with members of other (organizational) cultures. A joint effort of all parties involved to evolve the organizational culture as well as the individual intercultural skills will open a window of opportunity.

Nevertheless, it was also good to see that doing a training after five years of planning did have an immediate effect as well. Presently, we are analyzing the after-training questionnaires issued to both the Indian companies and the Western companies to measure that effect. But I am positive that the training series will make a change.

Kind regards,
Sascha Bosetzky