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Cross-cultural Awareness Training – A Matter of Perfect Timing!

by Marina Ibrahim, bizz buzz on 15/06/2016

Working Abroad

I have recently delivered a cross-cultural training to an assignee from Ukraine, who has been promoted to lead a new team in the UK. Having lived and worked in the UK for four months I noticed on the day of the training that she was experiencing some symptoms of stress: feeling overwhelmed, discouraged and demotivated – typical symptoms of culture shock, the rollercoaster of emotions, where – on the cultural adjustment curve – after the initial short-lived ‘holiday or honeymoon stage’, the ‘frustration stage’ kicks in.

Trends of globalisation sees more and more people moving abroad for career reasons, job progression or because companies expand into new international markets and want to establish new operations-, logistics- or sales-teams. Who wouldn’t be excited experiencing a new country, new culture and new lifestyle?

BUT – These are also challenging times for everyone involved: employees and employers alike – both of course want the relocation and assignment to be successful and a valuable return on investment. International assignments and the move abroad are not as easy as a ‘walk in the park’.

IN FACT – most people do not even know that any lengthy stay abroad comes with a particular challenge that they often overlook. If left ignored and unmanaged, it can become a fatal recipe for failure and costly for the companies who paid for expensive relocation packages. Its consequences: Underperformance – Burnout – Absence – Premature termination of the assignment.

These are the costs and implications for assignments without any professional cross-cultural training and preparation – costs that could be avoided if cross-cultural training was considered as an investment. The training and tools provide insightful learning and empowers employees to gain self-awareness, self-reflection and an open-minded attitude so that they become ready to manage the cultural adjustment pro-actively, enjoyably and successfully.

“Great cultural training, really good session and I look forward to putting it all to use! The content has been extremely valuable for me. It was well delivered and the discussion on all areas has been helpful to think about different aspects of my assignment. Marina was extremely flexible in discussing all aspects of interests but also really structured to get it all done in the timeframe. I also learned how to manage the assignment to my strengths and to take all tools into account to manage cultural differences of my multi-cultural team.”

AND – cross-cultural training has to be time critical! Ideally placed during the first stage of the adjustment curve, soon after the arrival. At this stage the host country has still got the charm-of-newness factor – it is thrilling and feels as being on holiday. Applied during this stage of this euphoria cross-cultural training uses the momentum of the positive mindset to research and prepare coping strategies and develop an action plan to master the cross-cultural adjustment and to establish a new healthy balance between professional, personal and social life. Successfully implemented cross-cultural training can help the employee to ‘hit the ground running’.

To find out more how I can help your organisation or arrange a FREE review of your needs, please contact me on 07958 629 220 or email