6 steps to maximising global learning and development programmes

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Russell Evans
Managing Director of Primeast, a Global training and leadership development specialist and 2015 Queen’s Award winner in International Trade
Russell Evans

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Working with people to improve organisational performance and create great places of work around the globe.
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How To Reap Benefits from Your Global Learning and Development Programmes

Laying the right foundations is key to driving and sustaining a global learning and development (L&D) programme that maximises investment and delivers tangible results.

Ensuring global consistency and respecting local sensitivity for organisations operating across multiple geographical regions is dependent upon each country working to a standardised learning programme which local facilitators adapt to include cultural and national differences.

In contrast, training bought separately at each individual office location, will be inconsistent  in content and quality – reflecting the host country’s own interpretation, which may not be aligned to a corporate’s overall objectives.

A global approach to learning and development ensures consistency of communication with all information channelled through a central point. This sees head office speaking directly to a single group of providers who cascade the message to facilitators – thereby minimising the chance of misunderstanding or misinterpretation and helping to build strong supplier relationships

Here are six steps to help businesses reap the benefits from their global L&D programmes:

  1. Be clear on about your aims

If you don’t know or understand why you’re embarking on global L&D, you’re unlikely to properly measure outcomes and results. Key stakeholders need to buy into the strategy behind the decision – which must be linked clearly to the organisational purpose.

Before embarking on global L&D, consider what problems need to be addressed and identify the root of these challenges and what the learning should achieve – it may be that the appropriate course of action might not be L&D after all.

  1. Understand the risks

Global L&D isn’t without its challenges and organisations need to understand the risks and factor them into the project. Key considerations include regulations or laws in countries where you operate that present a problem. For instance, some countries are very specific about working with overseas suppliers. By working with just one supplier you do increase supply chain risk- having all your “eggs in one basket”. This may not be a significant risk if you choose your supplier wisely, however when economic times are hard, the temptation can be to force suppliers to reduce costs and this can compromise their ability to deliver an effective global solution.

Balancing the need for consistent communication with cultural sensitivities is another common challenge. While it is important for the core learning to be preserved, the delivery of sessions often needs to be adapted to suit the host country. This isn’t always easy, particularly as in any one session there may be multiple cultures and not the culture of the country where the training is being delivered.

  1. Ensure you have the right partner

The glue that holds global L&D together is your partner. They need to be proactive, willing to spend time with you to understand your business and your needs – and capable of delivering the right solution in culturally sensitive ways.

Organisations who fail to invest substantial time researching partners are likely to suffer from a lack of trust, which will ultimately affect the success of a programme.

  1. Be open

Global L&D programmes often fail when individual regions are left in the dark. If they aren’t consulted during the design of projects, they often feel that the learning is being done ‘to’ them, rather than ‘with’ them. This approach can result in push-back from staff, failure to comply and inconsistency from the top down.

Take the time to explain the importance of L&D to the company, involve regions in the design and share the programme as it is being created. Also, explain to employees why training is needed along with the overall plan and goals of the programme. Without a transparent approach, staff may not commit to the project, resulting in plummeting productivity.

  1. Pilot each region first

Pilot the programme in each region before rolling out global L&D to test for any problems and allow regional L&D personnel the chance to give feedback. This helps to ensure buy-in and to check that you are happy with what is being delivered before committing to multiple  courses over a period of years.

  1. Be vocal about successes

Shouting about what has worked well is vital to bringing people on board with global L&D. There’s nothing more capable of driving success than success itself. Share powerful case studies of how global L&D has been applied successfully across regions to demonstrate the possibilities, increase competitiveness – and highlight the value of the programme.

Global learning and development programmes can be effective tools to ensure consistency throughout an organisation. Taking the right approach to maximise your global L&D is critical to achieving commercial and cultural success.

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