In an increasingly global marketplace, businesses with an international presence face communication challenges each and every day. These concerns run the gamut from individual communication between employees based in different countries to language barriers in collaborative efforts and clarity in the sharing of important, worldwide operational information. Competitiveness on the global scale is put at serious risk when there are barriers to effective communication and organizations lack a common business language, such as English, or fail to improve English proficiency.
Pearson English is here with new and improved Business Solutions to help companies not only build the necessary English skills in a just-in-time framework, but also allow them to monitor progress and success.
Developing key business skills with Skillshops
A strong grasp of English in the workplace makes it possible for staff members to develop the skill set that’s imperative for successful continued operations. Enhancing these communication techniques means better performance and a higher level of effectiveness at work.
The best solutions are delivered in the context of work and businesses need skilled workers to meet their operational goals. Business skills require not only language education, but context that suggests how and when to apply a process and how those outcomes are best communicated.
We are proud to introduce Skillshops by Pearson English: a new way to develop those key business skills and improve professional communication to the benefit of both the business and the employee.
Skillshops by Pearson English are designed around communication and management competencies tailored to the needs of busy professionals and delivered by experienced business trainers. Skillshops are intensive virtual workshops focused on the acquisition of the business skills and communication techniques required for continued global success for a business and enhanced effectiveness for individual staff members.
- Flexibility: The virtual classroom leverages the power of communications infrastructure and technology that enables flexibility and encourages group collaboration. Time commitments are reduced and travel costs are saved.
- Fast, measurable results: Skillshops provide the fast track for skill development, along with data and reporting through self assessments and needs analysis, goal setting, in-session feedback and session reports.
- “Learning by Doing”: Skillshops offer a strong focus on practical skills, adhering to the “learning by doing” philosophy. The classroom methodology is flipped, with an active learning approach in place that employees communicative and participative activities.
Learn more about Skillshops.
Empowering learners with One
One – the digital platform that enables talent to communicate, collaborate and operate in the world’s common language, English – is continuing to evolve. One empowers learners with the tools they need to successfully and professionally express themselves, and to develop their business skills in the context of work – quickly. Employees see the benefit in the work they do each and every day.
Focusing on outcomes that enable a common business culture, One by Pearson English keeps talent motivated by defining goals to achieve – and provides a reason to achieve them.
What’s new in One:
- Relevance: Business-specific content is customized to each learner’s role and ability level. This includes exclusive, exceptionally relevant content from our partners at The Financial Times.
- Collaboration: One offers a secure venue in which learners can work together on business projects.
- Productivity: Learners are provided increased access to language experts for quick, productive feedback, as well as everyday business tools and templates for faster, more effective work.
- Flexibility: One is accessible online and on demand, with content translated into 15 languages.
- Interactivity: Employees progress is placed in the fast lane with immediate feedback on communication skills.
Learn more about One.
Demonstrating success with One Dashboard
We know how important it is for companies to see a return on investment, which is why we created One Dashboard – the robust reporting tool for One that puts you in charge of your company’s success.
With live data that indicates the progress to each user and their administrator, One is instantly trackable, accountable and tuneable. You can decide who will get access to specific data. From seeing how employees are getting on with individual tasks to setting goals for whole teams and departments, One Dashboard allows businesses to quickly and easily monitor their progress and maximize their results.
One Dashboard delivers:
- Accountability: Effective measurement of all learners’ progress on the One platform is not only possible, but easy.
- Control: Administrators can identify and encourage learners based on their activity and performance.
- Ease: Helpful tools mean easy management of learner performance. These provide the information needed to make decisions about productivity and development.
Learn more about One Dashboard.
Navigating the global economy and maintaining and improving competitiveness is an absolute must for modern multinational enterprises. With the suite of powerful new releases from Pearson English, businesses have the tools they need to not only keep pace, but to create the best possible outcomes. English as a common business language is the foundation for success.
Working in teams and collaborating are two of the most important and beneficial skills of a modern professional, no matter where he or she is located in the world. Employees who can work together and create positive results are incredibly valuable to a business.While the need to collaborate locally will always exist, there’s a growing demand for businesspeople to work together remotely, whether with fellow staff on the other end of a continent or halfway across the globe. The continually progressing globalization of the world’s economy means that a greater emphasis is being placed on international teamwork than ever before. Businesses that can facilitate collaboration between their employees will have a better chance of solving problems and finding new business efficiencies. Of course, this is only true if the differences between different cultures and languages can be removed.
The Harvard Business Review highlighted the need for businesses to focus on and develop their internal collaboration abilities, as this skill is quickly becoming a source of competitive advantage for companies in the global business realm. The publication pointed out that the most successful companies are ones that have their partner organizations and satellite offices across the world share ideas and work together on projects. The Business Review also cautioned against applying traditional models of production outsourcing or other familiar processes when encouraging collaboration. Organizational leaders need to be involved in these efforts and make sure employees can be as connected as possible when creating new and potentially powerful innovations for the good of the business.
Moving Past the Obstacles
Of course, common systems need to be in place for collaboration. The rise of cloud computing, live Web-based chats and effective video conferencing have cut down on the delays that previously made international collaboration less than efficient in a time sense. The need for a common language of communication endures, however. Creating a common language for business interactions, both inside and outside of an organization, is becoming a higher priority as the global economy expands and nations experiencing an economic rise see internal and external expansion.
Companies that understand the importance of a commitment to business English education will also realize more consistent, high-quality results when it comes to their collaborative efforts. Employees can share ideas and information easily and without translation errors will be more efficient and better able to reach positive conclusions. With a strong business English learning plan in place – and an emphasis on hiring candidates with good existing English skills – companies can leverage their international employee base to put the best staff on the right jobs, regardless of location.
Mass Collaboration: The Next Step
The rise of various “mass” modes of industry and commerce, from production to distribution and marketing, demonstrate the power of a widespread approach to the overarching processes of business. Because collaboration is an internal activity instead of an external one, businesses need to have a common language in place to facilitate it. English is already the recognized and undisputed language of business. Beyond its common use in commerce, English is also a popular vehicle for communication in many parts of the globe, meaning that employees are more likely to have some experience, although it may be basic, with the language. Using business English in collaboration efforts is one powerful way to maximize the human capital of a company and create competitive advantages.
Blending Skills and Experiences for the Maximum Benefit
One of the most valuable resources that an international company has in terms of human resources is the breadth and depth of their employees’ experiences. Cultural and educational differences shouldn’t be viewed as a detriment to productivity, but a way to reach new, useful and powerful conclusions that couldn’t otherwise occur. The ideas held by an employee in Eastern Europe my be seen as outside the box by a staff member on the West Coast of the U.S., and the converse may be true. When workers with different perspectives have effective partnerships, they create concepts and solutions that are strong, diverse and exciting.
When organizations emphasize business English education, they make the potential for these fruitful collaborations a reality. Staff members who share a common language can exchange their ideas, unfiltered by translation and middlemen, to work toward their goals. The consistent use of business English across a multinational organization doesn’t only facilitate the simple day-to-day communication needed to keep a company running efficiently. It also makes these powerful chances for international collaboration possible. Having business English in place is also a benefit for companies collaborating with international partners.
With the overwhelming majority of large companies and growing startups choosing English as the standard for international communication, it’s not just an advantage to use the language; It’s a serious operational problem to be without a staff who can speak it.
Attracting the best employees is a high priority for businesses of all sizes and across industries. For competitive companies that have offices across the world, bringing in top talent isn’t just a desire; it’s a requirement for continued success and growth. Organizations that move beyond their country of origin need to target intelligent, productive professionals who can think, act and communicate on a global level, no matter where they originally come from.
Collaboration in general is a great tool for businesses, especially those that span large geographic distances. The sharing of skills, experiences and ideas on both the local and worldwide levels is a major component of success in the modern economy. Companies that move away from a strictly vertical hierarchy and empower employees to make decisions in a collective, interdependent system often see better results and are more prepared to face the demands of the modern business world. The Harvard Business School pointed to collaborative innovation as one of the most important current sources of competitive advantage. The monolithic research and development department is turning into an outdated concept as more companies encourage employees working locally and remotely to innovate and craft new concepts, products and solutions.
A Standard for International Operations
The development of the global economy provides businesses more opportunities, but it also presents new, unique challenges. In-depth global collaboration wasn’t a viable option in decades past, and information that needed to be exchanged across countries was often handled by translators. This approach is no longer quick or responsive enough for modern-day business needs, and it’s one of the reasons why business English has developed as the default method of internal and external communication for companies across the globe. This is true even when there are no native speakers involved, as English provides a consistent method for sharing ideas, developing concepts, negotiating and accomplishing other tasks that simply isn’t possible when using intermediaries. It’s now common for international organizations to test recruits on English proficiency.
A perfunctory English competency test doesn’t gather the information needed to implement a consistent language policy, however. An in-depth assessment provides a wide assortment of benefits, from the ability to compare positional benchmarks to prospective candidates to crafting an internal Business English education strategy and track ongoing development. This skills test doesn’t just make sure employees have the right level of English capability to succeed; it helps craft organization-wide strategies for development that can push a company past its competitors. Facing the reality of a constantly increasing need for international collaboration means a strong commitment to English as an important business tool.
A complete assessment of English language skills and a commitment to ongoing education also allows companies to attract and hire recruits who are outstanding in many respects but don’t yet have great Business English skills. Although there are baselines below which it simply isn’t practical to hire a candidate, a company that can provide training in using the language of international business certainly has an advantage over its competitors. Offering continuing educational opportunities also helps attract candidates who already have a good base of English language skills and want to develop them further.
An international business needs employees who have a strong grasp of corporate English To communicate internally and with outside vendors, partners and even competitors. A company that can develop benchmarks, best practices and plans for continuing development in relation to Business English use will be able to fully leverage the power of international collaboration, employee recruiting and retention and development and worldwide growth.
Keeping track of etiquette across different countries and cultures can be difficult for international business travelers. This is an instance where the knowledge of Business English and the resources that understanding the language opens up are incredibly valuable. Many websites, guides and other materials are written in English, so being able to access these important informational streams is much easier when that language is understood.
A strong knowledge of corporate English allows for direct, efficient communication between staff members from different companies, even when they don’t share a native tongue or were raised in different countries. Instead of having to rely on interpreters or translators to communicate sensitive information about both business and other matters outside of the board room, employees who speak Business English are empowered to engage in direct conversations and reduce the noise and misunderstandings that occur during translation. In this way, learning English for professionals also opens the door to more business opportunities across the globe and, therefore, more chances for travel to interesting international locations. Business English is the key to chances for growth at home and abroad.
Although corporate English will help staff members avoid conflicts and resolve any issues that do arise, there still needs to be some sensitivity and tact used. With that in mind, here’s some advice for making international business trips successful:
Do Your Research
There are too many cultural differences to review them all in a comprehensive fashion, but there are some measures to be taken that can help make trips as smooth and pain free as possible: research local customs. If your company already has a branch in that country, then contact a human resources professional or someone of similar standing for some useful advice about issues including mealtimes, handshakes, the exchange of business cards and many other topics. Colleagues who have previously traveled to the country to be visited can also be a valuable source of information.
Whether or not you can get this information from an inside source, researching the culture and customs of a nation is important, according to CNN. For example, knowing that it’s impolite for men and women to make contact—even a professional handshake—in India can mean the difference between a costly mistake and a good first impression. Along with a strong knowledge of Business English, learning how to say a greeting or salutation in the local language can be an effort that employees at the company being visited will will likely appreciate.
Understand how Meals are Held
One of the biggest country-to-country differences is eating and etiquette related to sharing food. This is one area where doing research can definitely pay off. With the advent of smartphones, it’s possible to create a short list of major points to remember, and even review on the way over to the first big dinner meeting in a new country. Following the lead of others and discretely asking questions, instead of just assuming, can also help.
Some missteps will only have you looking a little foolish, while others will create a more serious negative impression on your hosts. Here are a few of the most notable ones, compiled in a separate article from CNN:
- In Japan: Never rest chopsticks in the food being eaten, as this can remind native Japanese of a common funeral custom. Instead, place them close to the body, parallel to the plate.
- In India, the Middle East and parts of Africa: Do not use the left hand to handle food or, for the most part, utensils. The left hand is considered unclean in these areas and shouldn’t be used to handle important documents either. CNN pointed out that those who are naturally left handed should refrain from using their right hands instead.
- In China: Don’t turn over a fish after one side has been eaten. This is viewed as poor manners and bad luck, and can cause someone, especially a person involved in business negotiations, to lose face.
Know When to Talk Business
It can be difficult to know when a good time to discuss business is, outside the confines of a board room. Although this changes from country to county, a good general guideline is that many cultures frown upon business discussions during off hours – some during meals or travel, others at anytime outside of a structured meeting. Breaking this rule especially because it’s directly related to negotiations and making a deal, can severely impact any sort of business effort attempted by an organization. This is another area are where doing some research ahead of time will pay off. Another strategy to take is to ask someone with experience, a host or even hotel concierge about the standard in that particular country. The goal should always be to ask first, reducing the number of mistakes made and the possible damage done.
Everybody gets nervous. It’s a part of life that people simply have to battle through. However, for some, the struggle is a bit more intense. According to the Harvard Business Review, approximately 20% of the world’s population suffers from debilitating anxiety in potentially stressful situations.
Author Scott Stossel, a Harvard graduate and renowned journalist, uses a sports analogy as an example of his own anxiety. He describes how when he was younger, he purposefully lost an important tennis match because his anxiety had taken hold of him and all he wanted to do was finish the game as quickly as possible.
The idea is essentially the same in international business, but the game is changed. Employees don’t often find themselves stressing over three-point shots and scoreboards. Instead, they’re worried about securing investments and chasing acquisitions. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America’s “Stress & Anxiety Disorders Survey,” 56% of employees say that stress and anxiety influence their performance
Redirect Anxiety Positively
Many aspects of the job are prone to cause anxiety, but there are areas where businesses can help their staff, namely: Business English. In an increasingly multicultural business environment, employee pools have become a collection of cultures and languages. Giving employees a singular means of communication to interact with not only internal colleagues, but with external organizations, as well, will help establish confidence and overcome anxiety that may otherwise hinder their abilities.
A certain amount of anxiety can be beneficial, explained David Barlow, founder of the Center of Anxiety and Related Disorders as Boston University. This sentiment tends to push us to improve our efforts and work harder. Anxious feelings that cause people to monitor their actions and adapt to new situations more successfully keep us from becoming too comfortable in our present situation. For international businesses, staying complacent can be poisonous to long-term growth. When a company believes there’s no reason to push for a stronger product offering or improve its service standards, the enterprise takes the first few steps toward failure.
Battle Anxiety with Confident Communication
At the same time, it’s difficult to be confident in your abilities if you can’t communicate with your colleagues. Research published by the American Psychological Association found that employees who were excluded because of their language abilities resulted in worse overall business performance. Why? Because your employees don’t feel committed to a common goal and are more prone to focus on their work out of concern over job security. This doesn’t foster collaboration among workers or business partners.
In the global marketplace, mastery of Business English separates those satisfied with mediocre communications and international relationships from firms aiming to achieve the highest standards while interacting with customers and clients.
Think about it. If your employees aren’t prepared to work with international business partners in a common language, they will likely let anxiety take control and limit their capabilities to speak clearly and effectively with colleagues and business partners. Having the ability to communicate across cultures and languages with Business English prevents companies from becoming victims of anxiety.
What does it take to get ahead in an international business environment? It’s just as important for top leaders to develop their business skills as it is for every member of a workforce. You need to lead by example, and show others in your organization that professional development is a core value for your company. Here are several ways to strengthen your executive team and generate support for international skills that all employees should work to embrace.
1. Develop Multicultural Skills
Preet Kuar, an executive recruiter for California-based firm Pacific Staffing, told the Sacramento Business Journal that people skills are among the top priorities for employers when sourcing executive talent. Chief among them is the ability to connect with clients from various cultural backgrounds. International business agreements and partnerships succeed when executives and leaders are able to connect. Understanding the culture of your business collaborators will help you to build trust and strengthen relationships. While Business English remains the the global economy’s preferred language, it’s equally important for executive team members to have a genuine desire to work with clients and partners from various cultural backgrounds.
2. Achieve Business English Proficiency
When working with international customers and clients, it’s crucial for business leaders to have the vocabulary necessary to effectively communicate across all levels. Having Business English skills that are only sufficient isn’t enough to effectively convey to international partners that your company is dedicated to collaborating without barriers. Instead, you need to ensure your leaders are well-equipped with the skills needed to actively participate in or lead multi-party meetings, communicate clearly over the phone and create concise email messages. With executive-level Business English development, your company’s management can be prepared to enter into negotiations without the slightest hesitation.
3. Strengthen Industry-specific Skills
Human Resource Executive Online indicated many organizations lack support structures that give employees—including executives—access to training and development courses that build their industry knowledge, which ultimately helps them make more informed decisions. In fact, the Houston, Texas-based nonprofit organization American Productivity and Quality Center recently released a study that found 80% of nearly 550 director and managers at enterprises in diverse industries indicated the modern business world requires a new leadership style. Meanwhile, just 21% of respondents claimed their organizations have very effective leadership practices. Simply put, there’s a growing skills gap in many international companies resulting from outdated policies, which can include neglecting the level of industry knowledge that people in executive roles have as they move through the talent pipeline.
4. Build Enthusiasm Around the Brand
At the same time, Forbes explained executives must be leaders in evangelizing their brand. In other words, they need to be visibly invested in the success of the company so that other employees can follow their example. Think about the way online retailer Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh helped develop a company culture that largely breaks down the boundaries between management, executives and other workforce members. Quartz indicated Zappos will integrate an organizational style called Holacracy, which effectively removes job titles and puts workers on a more even level. In a way, this naturally builds off Zappos’ foundational idea that employees are dedicated to the same focus, which is providing excellent customer service.
From the enthusiasm Hsieh demonstrates and shares with the e-retailer’s employees, the company also places a high value on taking responsibility for every individual’s work. In global corporations, it’s equally important for each member of the workforce to be a stakeholder in the success of the entire organization, which is ultimately carried forward by mastering the language of business.
Can you afford to ignore these strategies helping to better develop current future leaders?
People fear losing what they have. At least that’s what a recent study showed. Loss aversion can lead to short term decision making that leaves no regard for long term outcomes. The mindset, however, is not permanent. By adopting a second language, the same study demonstrated that people could overcome their natural tendency to see only short term profits.
Loss aversion simply means that someone is more concerned with what they may lose, as opposed to what they may gain. In everyday life, this may lead to a little frugality, but when it comes to an organization’s finances, fearing risk could lead to poor investment decisions. Luckily, a study from the University of Chicago revealed that these tendencies could be averted by learning another language, providing even more reason to invest in a Business English training program for your organization and staff.
The advantages of a second language
Risks are required to succeed in business. That doesn’t necessarily involve jumping at every possible opportunity that comes your way, but you can’t expect to excel if you’re doing things the exact same way as every other business in your respective industry. The greatest gains come at a risk.
Research from the study revealed that by adopting a secondary means of communicating, subjects were more likely to take chances promising a long-term gain at the cost of a possible loss. In one of the experiments, which involved betting on simple coin flips, researchers discovered subjects who were explained the experiment in their native tongue would only take the risk 54% of the time, while those listening via a second language would take it 71% of the time.
In a statement to the journal Psychological Science, the study’s authors are quoted as saying that despite subjects understanding the words they were being told; their emotional responses to them were muted because of a less biased understanding of the language. Working in a secondary language, like Business English, people are less emotionally tethered to what’s being said and, as a result, they tend to look at things more analytically.
The point of thinking long term
Regardless of where your business is operating, whether it is limited to a single market or across the entire international stage, your strategy should always be sustainability. Short-term investments and decisions can certainly bolster immediate numbers, but they come at the cost of long-term viability.
Having a long-term outlook seems like an obvious move, but modern business trends have helped to push companies away from this school of thought. The Friends Provident Foundation found that nearly 80% of chief financial officers would prefer to sacrifice future economic value if it meant satisfying their investors in the now. Unfortunately, while the benefits of short-term investments are quick to fade, their impact remains and can lead to wider, irreversible consequences.
The growing competitiveness of cross-border economics makes long-term thinking less of a suggestion and more of a need. However, the barriers to attaining such a mindset are so deeply ingrained in our psyche that it’s hard to make a decision without first weighing the myriad of factors that shouldn’t really be considered in the first place, like how others will interpret the move. A second language helps to remove that road block.
The objectivity afforded to a person working in a second language can be applied beneficially throughout the gamut of business functions. Having an analytical perspective helps leadership and staff make decisions that will support the company’s structure, reinforcing it so that your business can remain successful not just this quarter, but in the next and the next. Business English will give your employees the long-term outlook they need to keep your organization competitive for years to come.