Cross-Cultural Training is widely acclaimed to positively influence an individual’s ability to adjust to new surroundings in a foreign country, which in turn is said to be positively related to a successful performance. Most individuals who have had a Cross-Cultural Training before their departure to a new assignment will experience less culture shock, feel less uncertainty when interacting with foreigners and have more trust and self-efficacy.
Pre-departure Cross-Cultural Training helps to set the expectations right about the local culture and the upcoming assignment. It prepares oneself to different circumstances and various practicalities. And it facilitates smooth introductions to local contacts and networks. For any expat it is very important to start off smoothly and not to make unnecessary mistakes in the way he or she present him- or herself in the office or elsewhere. Therefore, pre-departure Cross-Cultural Training reduces anxiety and uncertainty and paves the way for a successful assignment.
Some argue that cultural aspects can only be understood properly by personal experience and that pre-departure training, therefore, can’t fully prepare an expat for the actual working and living conditions he or she will encounter. This holds some truth as well. Most people learns the most by their experiences and by making mistakes.
For sure, once the foreign assignment had started, many issues arise that need to be addressed from a cross-cultural perspective. An effective culture training will enable you to address many of such issues yourself. One needs to make a distinction between interpreting events from a local perspective and from one’s own cultural perspective. This allows one to see what is actually happening, how one interprets what is happing and how one responds to it. As such, cross-cultural learning never really ends. Additional management coaching or team training can always provide for complementary support.
Even after Cross-Cultural Training cultural bloopers will still be part of the game. But you can minimize the costs of such mistakes and get through the learning curve more quickly. After all, in order to build a house one does need some training as a carpenter.