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From the Desk of the President

Making Technology Work for, Not Against, You

By Neal Goodman, Ph.D.


Welcome to the October/November issue of GlobalExchange.

Among features in this issue, learn about dietary guidelines from around the world, including the way that the very models used to educate people is so reflective of their respective cultures. Also, discover how much you do and don’t know about America. Your results may surprise you – especially if you are American!

But, as usual, I would like to kick off the issue by providing some global management guidance.  This month we will focus on ways to ensure that - whether your team is in one office or all around the world - you manage your technology to work for, not against, your team – particularly in this intense period of knowledge transfer…

There is an obvious and widening skill set gap between baby boomer upper managers (many of whom are about to retire) and the X and Y generations – a younger group that can more easily adapt to advancing technologies but may be lacking in the leadership and wisdom that their predecessors possess. As organizations work to shape the future of the workforce and facilitate the necessary transfer of knowledge to the younger generations, they will undoubtedly leverage these younger employees’ comfort with technology and take advantage of the adoption of various remote and virtual training methods.  However, it is crucial to understand the risks inherent in using technology to facilitate communication.

The challenge for corporate leaders is to ensure that all members of their team understand how to navigate the risks involved in the technologies they use. A primary risk is that when people become used to particular technologies, and realize that others globally are using the same technologies as well, cultural differences are often overlooked until problems arise.

Training and development departments have their work cut out for them on both fronts.  Here are a few tips for trainers to avoid the pitfalls of technology – and to teach to the rest of the organization:

  • Strategically decide between when content calls for in-person or virtual meetings/training or both.
  • Understand/educate the workforce on the reasons that cross-cultural issues become trickier in a virtual environment.
  • Ensure everyone involved in a virtual meeting/training session fully understand how to use the relevant technology prior to the event.
  • Have technical support staff available (preferably at each location) during all important meetings and training sessions.
  • Be aware of/warn staff about the limitations of free online translation services.
  • Prepare and distribute agendas for virtual meetings in advance of the meeting
  • Encourage all participants in a virtual meeting or training session to identify themselves when speaking (if there is not a video available)

 

Neal Goodman is the president of Global Dynamics Inc.