‘Henk, from international logistics, calls his trading partner in South Korea to ask whether the products have already been shipped. “Yes,” says Kim. So, Henk thanks him for the information and then continues with his work. Two weeks later, Henk starts to worry because he hasn't received anything yet. He calls Kim and asks where the products are. Kim explains that they were shipped from the factory, but that they are still being held at the airport. Henk asks why he hasn’t been informed of this and Kim explains that he wanted to tell him during the phone call, but Henk hung up right after Kim had confirmed the shipment. Henk concludes that Kim has no sense of responsibility and is not a reliable trading partner. Kim is offended by Henk's attitude and feels that Henk attaches no importance to the relationship.’
A Dutch multinational operating in more than 150 countries believes there is room for improvement in its communication with foreign partners and clients. Opportunities are missed and unnecessary costs are incurred as a result of misunderstandings caused by cultural differences. The organization wants to raise awareness among employees who often do business with certain countries about potential cultural differences. The employees need to be empowered to make better choices in order to communicate well – despite different cultural backgrounds – and thus strengthen relationships and avoid misunderstandings.
Spot On Learning's Cross-Cultural Communication Program improved the knowledge and skills of the employees in the logistics department, so that they can now better understand cultural differences and communicate more effectively.
The blended program is a five-step process that thoroughly trains and prepares participants to strengthen business relationships in various situations by reducing misunderstandings in communication.
Step 1: Client intake for customization
Situations from the client's day-to-day practice are discussed and analysed. The input is used to customize the Cross-Cultural Competences Scan, the workshops and the online program.
Step 2: Online Cross-Cultural Competence Scan
The scan asks participants questions about their international knowledge, experience, behaviour and skills. They are made to think carefully about the topic and the score provides insight into their current level of competence. In the workshops, they discuss this competence, its relevance and the ways in which the participants can master the art of cross-cultural communication.
Step 3: Two half-day workshops
In the workshops, a theoretical framework is provided and applied in practice. Employees learn to take practical observations and experiences as their starting point, to be able to analyse and understand them, and then make choices about how to strengthen communication. Participants learn about cultural dimensions, as researched and documented by experts such as Richard Lewis and Erin Meyer. Information is given on the cultures of the target countries chosen by the client. Participants learn how people from other specific cultures view people from other cultures, especially the culture of their ‘homeland’, and vice versa. Many common differences and participants' experiences with the chosen countries are discussed. The trainers Spot On Learning engages have a great deal of international experience and knowledge of the theory and practice of cross-cultural business. For these workshops, we usually work with experienced expert Esther Janssen and her company Culture-Inc..
Step 4: Homework between and group assignments during workshops
After the workshops and between the 1st and 2nd workshop, participants apply what they have learnt from the assignments and cases. They are given the task of describing experiences and solutions.
Step 5: Online evaluation and case-based online learning program
After the workshops, the program is evaluated and the results are reported to the client. A few weeks or months later, an online program starts with six 'learning paths'. These are short interactive online learning activities, each dealing with a case from practice. The cases are adapted based on the client's professional situation and the evaluation following the workshops. Participants apply the knowledge they gained during the workshops. They are reminders for participants to put what they discussed and learnt during the workshops into practice.
Spot On Learning uses participants’ own experiences to create a client-specific program. Once participants have completed the program, they can apply the theory, cases and their learning experiences to quickly recognise and better respond to situations in their international work. This significantly improves their communication and cooperation with international clients. The client also gains insight into its employees’ level of cross-cultural competence and the bottlenecks experienced by the organization in its international activities.
Spot On Learning offers online and blended learning programs to companies that work with teams and crews made up of different nationalities and different cultures, or who work in highly international environments.
The programs teach participants how to communicate effectively in English and deal with cultural differences. Spot On Learning also offers programs on occupational health risks in tropical countries, in conjunction with partners.
The company is based in Amsterdam and its clients include Seatrade Shipmanagement Group, Exmar (Euronext: EXM), Heineken, TMC and Boskalis (with EMC Travel Clinic).
Most of Spot On Learning’s clients are located in the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany. But participants in the online and blended programs come from more than 30 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, China and Brazil.
For more information on Spot On Learning’s blended cross-cultural communication program or other services, please use the contact form or chat button on this website to contact us.