Connecting talent with communications is key, Armin Hopp says
Much has been written about predicted and even current skills shortfalls across all industries. Talent management has been a crucial part of organisations’ human resources strategies since well before the digital age. However, in today’s global business space and with the rise in enterprise resource (ERP) solutions, companies have greater opportunity to work across borders, using mobile learning tools and talent management systems to counter skills shortfalls.
At the same time, strong cross-border communication skills are becoming more crucial to businesses wishing to flourish in the international arena. A common business language is helpful for communicating important corporate changes or goals. Organisations must consider integrating communications development into their talent management strategy, as there is a clear link between a workforce between strong communications skills and efficiency. The rise of globally deployed ERP systems means that companies can effectively integrate their talent management systems within their overall IT and communications structure, too.
Creating a culture of language learning
Training and L&D professionals have a key role to play in facilitating this initiative, offering language and communication skills training in ways that are motivating and compatible with a dynamic and diverse workplace. One common reason employees fail to improve their communication skills is that their line manager is reluctant to make time for training, giving talent development low priority compared to day-to-day business. Training and L&D professionals have a role in creating overarching culture of learning and development – including soft skills – as well as delivering the systems and content that enable learning.
Better communication keeps business flowing. In an effort to improve communications, some international organisations are communicating in ‘Globish’. Coined in 1995 by Jean-Paul Nerrière, a former vice-president of marketing at IBM, Globish is a simple form of English that is becoming the vernacular of some of the non-English mother tongue business world. While learning to embrace simplified English certainly helps communication, multinational organisations need more than Globish to communicate with partners and customers. In addition, staff skilled in local languages and customs are key to making an organisation’s global workforce more agile, productive and more competitive.
Overcoming barriers in practical ways
Multinational organisations face a number of issues when integrating global learning delivery with communication requirements, including cultural differences, learner attitudes and expectations. Some cultures prefer face-to-face training, while some prefer to work on their own. In the past it has been difficult to get all learners from different countries or even continents to the same level of development and to measure and compare the results. But now, with integrated global solutions, that level of consistency is much more achievable.
In summary, here are some points to consider when connecting talent with communications:
- Reality check: assess the skill level across your organisation and identify weaknesses and strengths. It is vital not to make assumptions about skill level but rather to implement consistent assessments globally. Many companies assume language skills are much better than they actually are – when unified tests are conducted, there is commonly a large gap between the assumed skill level and the actual level of communication skills.
- Adoption: It is possible to both tear down communication silos and integrate a globally consistent, streamlined solution while customising your approach locally to meet short-term and long-term business goals.
- Gap analysis: Ensure you identify the gaps between the actual and required skill sets across the entire organisation. Identify career opportunities and skill gaps that could be met through cross-border recruitment.
- Development: A communication strategy needs to be in place that closes skill gaps through talent mobility and succession planning. Management should be able to search the current profile of employees within the organisation, identify their language and communication skills and determine potential successors for job roles. This can then be matched to where vacancies might occur, address which areas suffer from a skills shortage and provide solutions to job roles that tend to be difficult to fill. For example, a skilled employee with a solid grasp of English working in Hong Kong may be transferred to fill a skill gap in a UK subsidiary.
- Blend it: Combine e-learning with classes that can be attended virtually or over the phone as well as in person for the most effective communications training delivery. In a major survey of e-learners1, 84 per cent of corporate learners said they found a virtual classroom introduction to the course useful and 83 per cent said they valued personal feedback provided by a trainer.
Connecting talent with communications is key. Failure to adopt language learning means organisations run the risk of not only losing considerable business, but they are missing out on a chance to address the talent development and potential of staff that will result in better staff retention and a more mobile and flexible workforce.
1 Audit carried out by Speexx of 72,197 Speexx students, during the period 01/06/2013 – 31/05/2014 across Europe, Americas, Asia and Africa.