Getting InSync » Latest Articles
Sep 28, 2022 Janice Murphy

Master and Overcome Cultural Blind Spots in Global Virtual Training - Webinar Recap

Virtually There Session Recap

Click to Watch Replay of Master & Overcome Cultural Blind Spots in Global  Virtual Training

We are more accustomed than ever to delivering learning in virtual environments. info.insynctraining.comhubfs2022 Virtually ThereVirtuallyThere_WebinarGraphic_936x321_092722(1)-2Still, many professionals in the training industry remain unaware of their own cultural blind spots.

Could this be you?

To maximize learning potential, you need to design materials that speak to learners as individuals. It goes without saying that if learning content is packed full of unrecognizable sayings, jokes that don’t land, or examples that not everyone can relate to, we run the risk of creating a barrier to learner engagement.

Oftentimes, we prioritize organizational culture over local culture—but, when dealing with a global scope of learners, this can be a BIG mistake.

So, how do we, as learning and development professionals, HR specialists and corporate trainers, handle cultural differences to better engage learners and increase ROI—even when the subject matter is outside our own cultural realm?

In this InSync Training webinar, led by Jessica Rathke, Comtec Translations’ Cultural Services Partner, and joined by Emily Decker, Head of Partnerships at Comtec Translations, you'll learn:  

  1. How to approach cultural differences when delivering virtual training to a cross-cultural audience, including how to prepare, localize and present learning content.
  2. Be introduced to the internationally recognized Hofstede framework which supports how people learn depending on their own cultural context.
  3. When you need to consider potential cultural blind spots - hint, it’s earlier than you think!

Scroll to the bottom of this post for the full Virtually There webinar transcript. 

Click to Watch Replay of Master & Overcome Cultural Blind Spots in Global  Virtual Training

Get back to planning your year-end and 2023 professional development journey. Visit The InSync Academy Course Gallery for world-class, industry-standard certifications and workshops. Become a Certified Virtual Training Expert® to fine-tune your virtual classroom training approach, in a time zone that works for you: APAC, EMEA, and Americas.  



Master and Overcome Cultural Blind Spots in Global Virtual Training


EMILY DECKER:  …and thank you everybody for joining us today. We are really excited to share such an interesting topic with all of you about overcoming cultural blind spots in global virtual training. To kick things off, I will introduce myself as well as our amazing speaker, Jessica, and share with you the format of today’s session. So, my name is Emily and I am Head of Partnerships at Comtec. I have been working in the translation industry for about five or six years now, and so far, throughout my career I’ve worked very closely with both learning and development teams and also training consultancies to support them with translation, transcreation, localization into a whole range of global languages and to help them navigate some of the challenges around language and culture. I am delighted to be joined by our very special guest speaker, Jessica Rathke, and to introduce Jessica, she is Comtec’s Cultural Services Partner. Part of our network of cultural awareness specialists’ delivery training and coaching in this field. We have invited her to speak with you all today to give you a sneak peek into the Hofstede Insights Cultural Dimensions Framework, and also talk to you about how considering all the different dimensions of culture as part of your training program can really bring a whole range of benefits. Just a little bit of context I support into why a translation company is talking about this subject. So, we work with a whole range of international businesses throughout different sectors who often share with us the kind of challenges that they face around culture, whether that’s communication with colleagues or customers, marketing strategy, learning content and typically we tend to get involved once content such as training programs have already been finalized and written in English and then ready for localization. But we’ve seen over the years that actually considering culture earlier in the process hugely supports the localization sort of stage of the project. It helps to identify any risks, any elements that might need tailoring to the target market, also ensuring that the messaging of your content is really tailored and relevant to each target audience as opposed to kind of translating just based on one target audience. There are two different areas to consider in terms of culture in a learning training environment. One of them is the facilitation to training content and how to ensure the delivery of your training really lands with your audience, and that’s what Jessica is going to be focusing on for us today. The other is the content of your training and how to make this relevant for your target audience and your learner, depending on their cultural background, and we are very pleased to say that we will be delivering another webinar on this topic in February next year and we will confirm the date as soon as we can. So, without further ado, I will now hand over to Jessica to kick things off. Thanks very much, Jessica.


JESSICA RATHKE: Alright, well thank you very much for that lovely introduction, Emily, and I’m really pleased to be here. We have a lot to cover today, so I’m going to just jump right in.


One thing I will say is, please, if there are any questions that come up as I do the presentation, please put them in the chat and we will be leaving time at the end for me to address those questions. There’s quite a lot to cover with the topic of culture if we think about how many countries there are in the world. That’s a lot of different cultures. There are similarities and differences in many of them, but it is something that I think is increasingly important for us to consider as demographics change as this slide indicates. You know, diversity is very important for facilitation and delivery of online learning. I think the digital world actually amplifies some of those cultural characteristics and differences. It has this tendency to tribal us a little bit, so I think for virtual training this is so important. As markets increase for our respective clients, customers participants, that too is influencing the amount of cultural adaptation that is becoming increasingly important, and the bottom line is, different cultural groups really do learn differently, and so we’re going to be exploring that today.


But first, before we get started in the official presentation, I just want to get you guys involved a little bit. So, I will ask you to put your answer in the chat and just curious to see what people have to say about this. It will be a one-word answer pretty much or a two-word answer. So, one of the cultures represented by these flags here is being described in each of these lists. So, one of the cultures would either be China, Mexico, Canada, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Finland, oops, no, sorry, this is Russia, my apologies, Russia, Finland, the Netherlands, France, the UK or the US. So, this culture is being described by one culture or culture A as being relaxed, friendly, spontaneous, uninhibited, emotional or impulsive. So, one culture would describe one of these cultures up here as that. Another country would describe this culture as always being in a hurry. Very serious and reserved, restrained, composed and methodical. So, which country is being described up here, do you think? Okay, we have…


EMILY DECKER:     We’ve got on guess for Canada so far.


JESSICA RATHKE: Lucky guess, and they are describing the same culture. Both of these are describing the same culture. Okay…


EMILY DECKER:     We’ve got on guess for the US, there’s one guess for England.


JESSICA RATHKE: Okay, England, US, Canada…


EMILY DECKER:     France.


JESSICA RATHKE: Any more, okay. Anyone else want to, okay. Excellent. Now it isn’t A or B, it’s the, A and B are the same culture being described by others.


Okay, let’s move on. So, and maybe I, I hope I explained that well enough. It seems like I might not have, but there’s only culture being described here. And that culture is the United States. So, a couple of you got that right. So, the cultural perspective of A was the Japanese think that Americans are quite relaxed, friendly spontaneous, emotion, impulsive, where as Mexicans think we are pretty, pretty much in a rush and more serious and reserved and restrained and methodical and composed. So, I’d like to introduce culture in this way because the culture is all about the perspective we have with other people. So, when people, a Japanese person experiences the United States, this is kind of what they experience. When a Mexican person experiences the United States, this is what they experience. So, the perspectives are really almost opposite of one another, and I think this is why culture is becoming increasingly important, because we are so globalized, because the clients and the participants in virtual training are so diverse. You know, we can’t be all things to all people, but we can tweak things a bit to make online learning much more relevant to different cultures.


So, understanding culture, it’s actually quite a dense subject, so I’m going to try to cover quite a lot today. I am part of Hofstede Insights, so we have the logo here. It is one of the premier cross-cultural communication companies in the world, along with being a partner of Comtec, myself, and Dr. Hofstede defines culture as the collective programming of the mind which one group distinguishes itself from another, so the group would be culture of country even. So a little bit about Hofstede himself, he worked for IBM Corporation way back in the 60s and he was in Human Resources and at the time of course IBM was one of the most global companies in the world with a huge number of employees all around the world, and he noticed in his interactions with people and being called in as an HR director in the international group to resolve conflict to deal with issues that would crop and he started thinking that actually he thought some of these might be a result of culture. He did quite a lot of research based on the employees at IBM Corporation and developed the initial four of the dimensions that we’re going to explore today. The dimensions or the model that is the Hofstede model is, it has been validated over 20 times since the 1960s and it is a validated model for distinguishing cultures in identifying why some are one way or another way. There’s a lot more to the science, but I wanted to give you kind of the idea that this is scientifically based. It isn’t random and that culture really comes from what they picture kind of represent is, you know, we grow up in an environment where we imitate the people we are around. Namely our parents, but our relatives and the people that are part of our school and maybe religious organizations and what have you, and so we adopt those ways of behaving, because well, that’s the way one behaves in our own culture, and so you know, we’re kind of in-viewed with our own culture and that’s how we view the world.


So, I also would like to explain what kind of more background behind the Hofstede model, and what DR. Hofstede viewed as the drivers of culture or the different levels of culture and the main driver of cultures are value systems. And these are in-viewed in us, we don’t really see them or touch or feel them, but they are really kind of part of us. And these are things that we really can’t see, especially if we go to a different country or we experience another culture, but these are very much drivers of the practices and our behaviors. So, things like the difference between right or wrong, good or evil, what’s considered normal behavior or abnormal, what’s dangerous in life or what’s safe or behaviors that are forbidden or permitted, depending on the culture we live in. So, values drive the practices and the next layer would be those practices that are much more closely associated with our value systems, such as religion or types of spirituality for example. And then we have how we conduct a meeting and the rituals and structures we have around different types of things such as meetings. Then we have the people who represent our cultures, who we epitomize as the people who represent our values or are sort of, yeah, those heroes in our cultures and every culture have these. So, I’ve got a few here, so we have of course our parents and relatives and important people in our lives. It could be a teacher or a mentor, sports personalities or actors would also, I think, fit into this category, and I have politicians as examples of those representing very different cultural values. We have Vladimir Putin on one side and Barack Obama on the other and they both represent very different cultures, and we are seeing a lot of that today, obviously. So, we move out to the next layer and those would be, these would be, these are kind of the fun things actually, these are the things that we experience that is kind of cool about going to another country like food, who doesn’t like going to Italy or France and enjoying the food or to Canada, to French speaking Canada, which I have been to a lot. The food is amazing, right? Or cities like Toronto, the way people dress can be quite different. The art, again, can be very different from other countries. What’s funny or not funny is very much culturally driven, and then of course, for Emily and me because we come, our roots in the language services industry, it’s different languages. And languages are very much a representation of cultural values and belief systems and what have you. But those are kind of expressions and outward expressions of the culture, I don’t want to say superficial necessarily, but we don’t always perceive the values until we’ve spent some time in a culture and ooh, suddenly that’s where we start going, ooh, things are a little bit different here. Especially if we do things that people think are strange or are, maybe not forbidden, but I’ve certainly been yelled at in countries because I, I did something that I didn’t realize was wrong. So, that’s a very broad overview of the Hofstede model.


So, the Hofstede model is comprised of what we would term six social dilemmas or dimensions. I like to call them dimensions, but these are drivers of culture. So, I’m going to give you an overview of the six dimensions of the Hofstede model. We’re going to take a look at three of them, I have them circle here, but it is important to kind of understand I think the broader picture. So, number one, and the most influential is what we call the Power Distance Index, and this is the relationship we have with power. So, you know, are we comfortable with a big differential in power in our country, for example. So, Putin versus Barack Obama or our current President, Biden, would be good example of that. How much power are we comfortable ascribing to an individual, for example. Individualism versus Collectivism, that’s pretty easy to understand. So, Individualism being the person, you know, the individual is most important. Our relationship to the group pretty loose and not so important versus collectivism where the group experience, particularly in Asia I would say, is very very important, the collective of societies. Masculinity versus Femininity, bear with me on the name, it’s a little bit old fashioned, but it was developed in the 60s, we haven’t come up with a better name for this, but this is our relationship to motivation. So, masculinity being the best verses femininity being doing our best. Uncertainty Avoidance, so how comfortable are we as a culture with uncertainty? Are we kind of okay with it? Are we kind of philosophical about it? Or do we worry about it and try to mitigate any uncertainty in our lives? Long Term Orientation, how, you know, are we very short term? So, I would say the US is a fairly short-term society as is the UK. Longer term orientation I would put a lot of Asian cultures would be much more long term oriented. Japanese businesses might have 10-year plans. I don’t really hear of too many 10-year plans in business in my home country anyway. Indulgence versus Restraint, so this is our relationship to pleasure. So, do we just go out and buy a Maserati on credit and enjoy the Maserati today? Or, do we save money for that and delay the pleasure of driving it because we are a bit more restrained about, in this example, money? So again, those are the six dimensions and we are going to focus on the Power Distance Index, Individualism versus Collectivism and Uncertainty Avoidance.


Before we get there though, I think it’s important to also kind of take those dimensions in mind and understand what we would call the cultural stretch. So, we’re going to look at Europe very quickly first. So, the UK, an English-speaking country, for most of us, on this webinar today, we’re pretty culturally similar, so the stretch is not really very challenging between say the UK and the US or the US and Canada or the US and Australia. But it gets a little bit more culturally challenging when we start moving into the Nordics, to Denmark and to the Netherlands and then the stretch is even more challenging when we move into Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Switzerland. So, the cultural stretch, meaning those dimensions, there’s a greater degree of difference in some of those dimensions with these, the countries that we have to stretch more to really understand, and the orange would be another cultural stretch and the red would be the most challenging cultures. So, a bigger stretch and a greater necessity for adaptation in some of these different dimensional levels.


Very quickly, the same type of thing, only looking beyond Europe and into the world, a lot of the world is red. So, resuming an English-speaking country, such as the ones in green for us, the stretch is just not that big, but the stretch can be pretty high when we think about the rest of the world, and I think it is so important today because of migration, there are people migrating from a lot of these red countries into our own countries and into countries across Europe for example. Although Covid kind of got in the way, markets are expanding way beyond what have been typical markets for most European and North American companies. We are going into places like Africa and moving beyond into Eastern Europe or more into South America and Southeast Asia. These are becoming increasingly important markets and the cultural stretch is something we really, I think, need to consider so that we are successful in those markets and delivering training to those people.


So, we’re going to take a look, we’re transitioning now into virtual learning and kind of taking a look at different levels of support that we can provide, because again, you can’t customize for every single country unless the cultural stretch is so different it doesn’t really make economic sense, it doesn’t make time sense, so you know, what could we do, so of course, there’s translation, so maybe translation is enough, you know, the cultural stretch isn’t that different, so we don’t really need to adapt things very much. Maybe we need to culturally localize a bit, but we look at well, what can stay the same? In terms of preparation, in terms of facilitation and delivery and then in terms of assessment. You know, culture impacts all of these to one degree or another, but again, we may not have to go to, you know, a complete revamp for every culture. Maybe just certain learning assets or methods don’t need to change or maybe, you know, they do need to change, or do we really need to change everything depending on the specific culture. So, there are different layers to this that I want you to kind of think about as we go through the different dimensions.


So, again, the whole point of this presentation today is to really understand how culture can impact, you know, inclusiveness in online in virtual learning environments.


At best, I thin, you know, cultural missteps can maybe just bore somebody, like this lady here, she’s asleep. Or, you know, maybe it could really be frustrating for somebody and they really disengage, and you know, that really defeats the purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish with them. So, this is what we’re trying to avoid.


So, I alluded to this earlier, I love this proverb, we don’t know who discovered the ocean, but we can be pretty sure it wasn’t the fish. So, this is what I was referring to earlier in terms of being able to view our own culture. We just assume many things, because of those value systems that have been imparted on us. We celebrate our cultures. We like our idols. We do things a certain way, but other people do things differently, and I have to say that I had this point of view until I was in my 20s and I went to study in Austria, and this is way before the internet was invented [LAUGHS]. I was so on my own and I was definitely a fish out of water. Culturally kind of similar, but they did things really, really differently, and it was really startling to me. At first it was really exciting, but then I was like, God, why do they do things the way they do them? You know, things, we don’t do it that way at home, and they were like, yeah, but you’re not home, you’re in our country. So, you know. I think this is a really great analogy and when I decided to get my certification in cross-cultural training, I really didn’t realize just how much there is to all of this.


So, we’re going to take a look at that in a more in-depth way, so we’re going to take a look first at one of the most influential, which is our ability or the extent to which less powerful members of a society accept that power is distributed unequally.


And this is something that I’ve been contending with myself for the last two years in a very strong way I guess, which you will hear about in some of my examples. So, we’re investigating just a finite group of countries here, ones that I have a lot of experience with, so I’m American, but have lived in the UK for 20 years. Germany, I’ve lived in Germany and have done a lot of business there. I currently do training and my business is also training people. So, I train people in Germany, I train people in Argentina and I train people in China. And I have to say, I do have to adapt my facilitation an awful lot for the folks in China. But I want to explain this continuum to you. So, it’s a way of sort of quantifying the cultural differences, so we have this scale of 100 and on this side, we have 0 power distance and then we have a number of 100 and then of course, you know, 75-80 countries that are in the model. I didn’t put them all here. It would be very messy, and so they are assigned a particular score based on Geert Hofstede’s research and the subsequent validation. The numbers themselves are useful, but what really matters is the differential between the numbers. So, the difference between say the UK and China is extremely high in terms of power distance. The difference between the UK and US is pretty negligible. There’s not a big difference. Argentina is a kind of more towards the middle, so there is a little bit more power with a director in a department, you know, a director of learning and development for example or a CEO of a corporation or of course the leader of the country, for example. So, in the low power distance countries, inequality is minimized. We don’t depend on other people so much. We can kind of do things for ourselves. We can take initiative. We have access to lots of information. There’s a free flow of information. Equal rights for all, or at least that’s something we aspire to. I’m not sure that’s really reality, but it’s something we aspire to. And we really don’t like control. We don’t like to be told what to do, pretty much. So, you know, on the other side of the scale, 8 is a pretty high scale, I would say Russia would be even higher there, Russia is in the 90s. So, inequality expected, it’s a part of life. So, they ascribe a lot of power to their authority figures or their politicians, for example. There’s a lot of dependence, certainly obedience, the power holder, so the instructor is sort of a privileged, knows everything kind of person. Information flow is selective and selected generally by the instructor or the facilitator and they are managing the way things happen, and it’s expected to be that way. Initiative is sanctions, so for example, with my China team that I am training, I came into it, even though I know this stuff, I came into it with, well, I’m going to show them, you know, how to apply the knowledge that I want to impart, which in this case happens to be sales. And I’ll expect them to be able to implement it. That didn’t happen. And I noticed that they never had questions, nobody ever came back to me with anything. They never asked questions in any of the trainings, they absorbed the information, they knew it, but applying it was a different scenario and I had to teach them how to apply it. So, very very different sort of circumstance in that training, and they expect control.


So, in terms of, you know, virtual preparation in low PDI, the structure as a facilitator and I’m, I know that facilitation is a big word with you guys, but I’m going to change it in a second, because I think there is, it makes the distinction very real. So, it’s more general instruction based on experience, knowledge and we’ll see how application comes into it in a second, but in this case, on the China side and the high PDI countries, facilitators is not really, the word doesn’t fit very well, and I’d be curious if any of you have experience with any of this. I would say instructor, they expect to be taught, very high status and clearly much more power and status than the learners themselves or the attendees. I would say in a lot of information about that person, the positioning of that person is really important. And also, the preparation needs to be extremely clear a lot of instructions on how things are going to play out and what they are supposed to do and what is expected.


In the actual delivery or facilitation, again, general instructions, framework, but deviations are okay, where as here, it’s really going to be top town and it is information being given and you stay very strictly to what the framework is, there’s no deviation. Here, the process is very interactive and collaborative and creative and the facilitator, in most cases, at least in my experience, in all the different countries where I’ve experienced virtual training and online training, it’s very interactive. People kind of interrupt one another or raise their hands and there’s all kinds of discussion, break out groups and things like that. We come back and share the information. This doesn’t really happen here so much. It’s very directive. And lots and lots of instructor guidance. We, on this side of the fence, low PDI, we give assignments with open output, so like essay writing for example, or something more expository, here it would be extensive information, but the goal is to know the information and that they can, for lack of a better word, regurgitate the information back. I hate to use that word, but I couldn’t think of a better one, so I’m sorry about that. So, there’s not so much, you know, instructor is not the right word here, it’s facilitator. You’re there to just help things along. This one, again, it’s, the instructor is responsible for these students, or, I call them students, but they are responsible that the information is conveyed and that it is acquired. And they will be judged by that. The focus is here on low PDI is on the application of the concepts covered, so it’s very open output, where here it would be assignments, tests, mastery of the information and very precise answers. So, this is again, my example where I was expecting people to be able to apply what I taught them, but yeah, it didn’t really happen, so I’ve had to revamp everything I do with this group of people.


So, I need to just do a time check here. I need to get going. So, individualism, how we relate to the group. So, the US is the most individualistic society in the world, followed by the UK, Canada is pretty individualistic as well. Collectivist societies, it’s groups of people who take care of each other and look after one another. I find it interesting, a lot of it I think has to do with legal systems, where an individual in the US and countries with very strong legal recourse, they don’t really need groups to help them or take care of them. They don’t need all sorts of contacts to get things done, where, and if something goes wrong, there is legal recourse, where as in a lot of collectivist societies, that isn’t the case. So, I think that’s one reason for that difference.


So, you notice the flags have shifted all around, totally unrelated to the previous dimension, so again, China very much on the collectivist side and the US extremely on the individualist side and then we have Argentina and Germany kind of in the middle, but you know, far less individualistic then these two countries. So, again, on the individualist side, it’s a we consciousness, so we have to be very conscious of the relationships of people. It is definitely relationship before task, so from a facilitation or instructor viewpoint, we would spend time building that relationship and trust with people. I think, you know, the US is always about task [LAUGHS]. We do task before relationship. If the task goes well, then we’ll be your friend then, but we’re, we may not be your friend until, you know, you’ve proven yourself otherwise. And it is much more I consciousness. And I notice this when I travel to different countries, Americans and people of very high individualistic tendencies say the word I a lot. I notice myself doing that. Harmony and this idea of losing face is really crucial and it, I think this will have a huge impact on how virtual learning can be structured for highly collectivist societies. The other thing is, is there’s a lot of implicit communication. There’s, because there is this collective consciousness, people know each other really well. They depend on one another. They do things for one another that wouldn’t happen so much in individualistic countries. So, much communication is implicit, and I can tell you that in my experience, a lot goes over my head. I miss a lot of things because I’m not part of that collective, if you know what I mean. So, we like freedom. If we do something wrong, we lose self-respect or we feel guilty. We’re not, we don’t really impact other people so much. There’s isn’t that loss of face, and we are very explicit. You know, it’s the words mean everything.


So, for preparation, it is relationship building. I would create a lot of, I would do simply group tasks, because, and introducing topics for these people, as opposed to having them participate individually, and certainly not individually with people of other cultures who are very individualistic, the individualistic people always dominant. And these people will not say anything, and it’s really not fair. So, I think that in terms of preparation is really important, bigger picture, how everything fits together, that generates action, whereas individualistic people just pretty much are action oriented from the get go. So, the outcomes should be group focused, whereas again, everything here is very much on the individual side, it’s for each person to work on. They may brainstorm, but it is going to be individual conclusions.


So, some of this I already kind of mentioned, I would, for collectivist people, what I would recommend is that you have, break them out into a group and give them the work that needs to be done, and then one person speaks on behalf of the group because they’ll arrive at a conclusion themselves, whereas individual feedback of course would be the outcome here and the way tasks would be performed. There would be a lot of direct feedback. You might, you know, recap in writing. Here its all going to be indirect and any individual feedback would only be done one on one, definitely not in front of other people, especially if it’s negative. You don’t point people out individually in these cultures, whereas course assessment here is direct.


And this is what I was talking about. There’s all kinds of stuff going on with indirect communication or collectivist communication. I miss gestures, silence, because everybody knows what everybody is thinking. And here I am talking and I’m waiting for them to say something, but they don’t say anything, but I see eye contact sometimes, and I see expressions that I’m not quite sure what they mean. So, we really depend on that directness. I’ve got to get moving, don’t I?


So, I said this was really dense. This one’s going to be a real quick one. So, this is the extent to which people feel threatened by ambiguous situations and have kind of created beliefs or institutions that try to avoid these.


So again, very different approaches to this. I would say, you know, it’s all about structure on this side. Now, bear in mind that China in this instance, is very much an anomaly. So, take China out of your heads, this more applies to the US and Great Britain. This is sort of an anomaly here. Theirs is more philosophical than practical. In terms of uncertainty. But I’m going to speed up here so that we have time for questions and I’m going to go to an example real quick, because this background and context, structure and detail, theory first, application later is super important.


Germans love theory. We’ve got to give them the theory or they’re not going to believe that it’s worth anything. Lots and lots of detail, and it’s got to be Professor Doctor, Dr. Somebody or another. On the, I’ll give you an Argentinian example in a second, and again, on our side of the fence, meaning US, UK, it’s all about the practical application, it’s the how, not the why. And again, we want a practitioner, rather than somebody with three PhDs, pretty much.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: No, it looks like it’s at the end of the slides.




JESSICA RATHKE: …of uncertainty avoidance in a training scenario with an Argentinian client. I hope the graph, we can get the graphic up for you. But the scenario is this…I was tasked with giving a training for a sales and a production team. It’s a translation company, and so we brought these folks together and the sales people of course talked a lot. I solicited input from the production team and nobody would talk. And it was a really stressful situation and I really didn’t quite understand what was happening. After that was over, I called the leader of that group and said, what’s going on? And he proceeded to tell me that I had not done a proper introduction to his team. I didn’t give them enough background information for them to begin to comment on any of the training that we were giving and if I take the time to, you know, an hour or two of my time with them then they’d be more than happy to participate. So, I learned a lot about preparation of training for this particular group of people, and it really told me that, and it really is that uncertainty. They weren’t really sure what to do with it. So, my preconception was that they were going to understand what was going on and I was completely wrong. And again, I understand Argentinian culture, but I missed the, I missed the cue there myself. So, would it help if I pull up my own presentation? Or, I’ll just carry on. I think I’ll just carry on. So, there, I think I’m going to end there so we do have time for questions. I just want to say two things for you and we can make this information available to you. One, is we have, so, I appreciate you listening to this and I’d be curious, you know, what your experiences are or if you have any specific questions for me. Second of all, we have a really interesting tool that you may find quite useful in your roles, especially if you’re going to facilitating on say multicultural trainings or maybe there’s a specific country that you’re going to have to facilitate for that you’re not so familiar with, it’s called the Culture Compass and what that is is it is a, an online kind of survey. You answer a bunch of questions for your own kind of cultural bias, if you’ll pardon the word, but your cultural profile maybe is a better work, and then what it, you pick 3 other countries or cultures that you would like to compare your profile with, and it produces a report. It’s actually about 20-30 pages of report that gives you ideas on how you can adjust your behavior, your facilitation maybe, or at least apply that to your facilitation. I found it really, really helpful and it’s, the Culture Compass itself is $40.00, it’s not very much money. I think it’s great value for money and then something that can be added on to that, that at least for, if somebody is really interested, we could provide an hour of coaching and discussion about that, which I’ve done with a number of different people and that can kind of reveal some additional insights. Normally that would be charged by the hour, but I think we’d really like to offer that to someone if you want the Culture Compass. There are a lot of different aspects to culture where we can do awareness, we can take that to a deeper level and investigate specific cultures, if that’s something that would be helpful to you. We can go as deep as consulting on development of facilitation programs and things of that nature.


So, I’ll leave it at that. We’d love to have a chat with you if you’d like to have a follow up conversation to this. But any questions at this point? I’m not sure what happened with the slides, but there wasn’t much left anyway, so I’ll leave it at that and open it up for questions.


EMILY DECKER: It looks like we have got one question in the chat from Krista Linnell. My audience is currently all US-based, but we run into issues scheduling our events, e.g. accidentally overlapping a Jewish holiday. Do you have any recommendations and do you think the Cultural Compass would be helpful for that?


JESSICA RATHKE: I don’t think the Culture Compass would probably be that useful. There might be other cultural things, but it is really by country rather than, yeah. It, it would be based on Israel rather than US, so I think some of the information would more biased to people who live in Israel than Jewish people who live in the US. In terms of overlap of a holiday, that is a really tricky one. I, I have a number of Jewish colleagues and friends and I’ve ended up running a PR agency because I was the only gentile in the entire company, and so I did a lot of answering of the phone that day. I think people are, you know, if they’re practicing that particular faith, I think it’s really hard to encourage people to participate in something when it is a religious holiday for them. I wish I had a better answer for you on that one, but I don’t think Culture Compass, it might give you a little insight, but I think it would give you too much bias towards Israel, to be honest.


EMILY DECKER:     I guess something more practical, like putting all of the holidays into a calendar, a shared calendar.


JESSICA RATHKE: Yeah, exactly.


EMILY DECKER: Does anyone have any other questions for us at all?


JESSICA RATHKE: No questions. Was this too much, overwhelming your thinking? Adjusting?


EMILY DECKER: Christine said a shared calendar as well they’re thinking of doing, so.


JESSICA RATHKE: Very practical, I should have thought of that. I’m too deep down the hole of the culture rabbit hole [LAUGHS].


EMILY DECKER: Great, so there’s lots of stuff to think about.


JESSICA RATHKE: Yeah, another thing that I’m going to show you that you might find, if anybody is interested, I have a, I can provide this online, but it’s a, it’s called the 6 Dimensions of Culture, and it gives the relative scores if you will, for about 90 different countries. You might find that quite interesting. I refer to this all the time. It’s just a quick little guide, and it provides a little bit of explanation in there if anybody would be interested in having that. I think it could be a real helpful little tool. Because it can show you some areas that are really, really different, and it could be a starting point for you.


EMILY DECKER: So, Natalie has asked, how do you account for variation within a country I think that’s a really interesting question. I did the Culture Compass quiz and my power distance index actually comes out much than your average British person. So, how would you recommend that you account for variations such as myself?


JESSICA RATHKE: Okay, that’s an excellent question, and I feel that I would have covered that in a longer presentation. The answer to that question is, is the numbers that you see, so if I back up here…


EMILY DECKER: This is Jenna sharing, I think.


JESSICA RATHKE: Yeah, never mind, it’s fine. But if we go to something like this, forget what the dimension is, these numbers are averages. So, you know, it slants one way or another, so the average in these countries is quite high. So, there are going to be people at both ends of the spectrum in every country. There, in Argentina there are going to be people who are a 5, but there are also going go people that are 99. So, you know, some of it is individual. It’s also, you raise an interesting point too, it can be kind of complicated for people who have lived in different countries, you know, so I’ve lived in 4 different countries in my life, so my, I don’t track exactly the way the average American would track on some of the dimensions, so I hope that answers your question. There are people at all ends of the spectrum, but this is kind of the law of averages.


EMILY DECKER: We’ve also got another question from Megan. So, she supports teachers at colleges with international students. Any thoughts on how to link this info into that context?


JESSICA RATHKE: Oh yeah, that’s, it’s a tough one when you, know, she or she, I’m not sure, probably has students from every corner of the world, in that case, I think, you know, you can’t, as I said, you can’t quite be all things to all people, but I think you can minimize the, you know, it’s removing some of the glaring aspects of say American culture. It’s being very conscious of the things that could potentially offend. So, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but every once in a while, a swear word comes out of my mouth, and in Britain, most people don’t even bat an eye. It’s fairly common here. I don’t think I would do that in front of an international group of students, and I certainly don’t do it with my China folks. So, you know, there is a middle ground and it’s, I think it is setting expectations as well and, you know, soliciting you know, feedback from them, but also saying that you understand that there are a different culture and if there is something that you say that isn’t, you know, that they kind of view strangely or whatever it might be, that it isn’t meant to offend or there is no offense ever intended. You know, that person is doing their best to be as neutral as possible. And doing a little bit of study if there’s a particular group of people, let’s say they are from, I don’t know, I would pick Afghanistan maybe because there are a lot of immigrants from Afghanistan probably learning English. That might be a special group, and you could take some of them aside to have a more in-depth discussion and even educate them a little bit more on American cultural practices. I think that might be an idea I would have.


EMILY DECKER: Yeah, I love what you’re saying, Jessica. It’s basically just having that awareness, isn’t it, that the way that we do things in a certain culture isn’t necessarily the way that other people will do things in another culture and it’s just, even having that awareness and that kind of open mindset goes a really long way.


JESSICA RATHKE: It does, yes, absolutely.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Great questions, all right, well, we are at the end of out time together. I want to go ahead and thank our talented team of Emily and Jessica. We are thrilled to hear of all the ways to engage the global audience, as well as to be aware of our audience. InSync believes that we deserve the same quality of training that we give to our learners, so we are encouraging you to invest in yourself or your training team. Get on our calendar today to discuss what Global Training Solution looks like. Our training team can quickly assess and write the write quote for you and become more focused on the people. Whether that’s by the extension of your team, some train the trainers or even becoming a coach, we can help you find the answer, so please do sign up today. Zara has put her link in if you would like to directly contact her and have a conversation with her. I have now also shared the link to our course gallery calendar. If you have any questions or concerns, please do reach out to Zara, but we would like to thank everyone for their participation today.


JESSICA RATHKE: Thank you everyone. Really appreciate the opportunity and if any questions come to mind after, you know, maybe you go home and think about this or think about this during the day today, you know, pleaser do get in touch. I’m sure the lovely folks at InSync will refer you to us, and we will answer any questions that you have between Emily and myself.


EMILY DECKER: Yeah, absolutely, and as I mentioned at the start of the webinar as well, we’re looking to run a second session in February next year all about how you can gear your content of your training courses to fit individual target markets, so looking forward to speaking with some of you again then.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Wonderful, alright, well thank you again everyone. We’ll go ahead and close things up. Please do stick around if you have any questions, pop them into the chat and I will be happy to help.


EMILY DECKER: Thank you very much.

Published by Janice Murphy September 28, 2022
Janice Murphy