Business meeting planning international expansion opportunities

Is Your Team Ready for International Expansion?

As your organization is growing, the natural course is for you to take your business across the borders, expanding into new markets and exploring new opportunities. However, this is not always a smooth sailing type of process. One of the most important questions you need to ask yourself is how well equipped is your workforce when it comes to the required skills for entering new markets?

As HR leaders of an expanding global organization, you need to know, especially because discerning how knowledgeable your staff is about other cultures, customs and communication norms is vital to a successful entrance into a new region. But how can you really tell?

Gathering data from your corporate learning programs will help you better understand your workforce and determine how to best prepare them to do business in new markets. To gather the right data, you need to ask the right questions and keep in mind three important tips.

Steps for HR Leaders

1. Ask the Right Questions

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) HR outlook report, only 14% of HR leaders were content with the quality of their analytics.

Before designing and rolling out a learning program, make sure you set specific goals for learning outcomes. Then, come up with tangible ways to measure your staff’s performance in these key areas. Keep goals concise and focused to ensure the data collected will inform leadership about the workforce.

For example, consider a company that is expanding into a French-speaking region. A goal to merely “expand” French language skills among staff would be ineffective. A more focused goal would be to “expand the staff’s French language vocabulary required for product selling and general business communications”. This goal directly addresses the language needs of the company and ensures that resources are allocated efficiently.

Targeted goals will also help you gathering the most informative performance data. This in turn will equip HR leaders to make sound judgements on the capabilities of their workforce.

2. Do an Initial Assessment

Once you have set goals, begin by conducting an initial assessment of your employees’ current skills. This will help you discern what skills you can build on and where skill gaps exist. You might want to consider using an online assessment tool, cutting down one the time required for you to get relevant results. In addition, an online test also gives your employees the freedom to complete their assessments when they feel best prepared, without the added pressure of a face-to-face evaluation.

For Speexx, this has inspired the development of the Language Assessment Centre (LAC) where employees and potential candidates get an online evaluation of their fluency in foreign languages.

3. Solicit Both Qualitative and Quantitative Feedback

It is important to balance these quantitative analytics with qualitative feedback. Conducting post-training questionnaires and requesting testimonials will give an authentic voice to what the quantitative metrics are telling you. This will give HR leaders a fleshed out, big picture view of the current skills of their workforce.

Gathering data is easier than ever. The advent of comprehensive blended and online learning programs means that integrated reporting programs are often built right into the platform. For example, we work with our Learning Centre that helps us track student performance and provides our HR manager with insights about each of our team members doing an online course.

4. Pick and Track Key Performance Indicators

Which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you track will vary based on the learning goals you have set. The percentage of staff taking versus completing a training program or pass rates within the set time frame is a useful metric to start with. However, there are other areas to dig deeper into in order to understand better how effective learning is.

For example, a training manager who is rolling out a language-training program may want to measure skill enhancement or the increase of new language behaviors used in the workplace, increased customer satisfaction post-training and increased productivity numbers. And, let’s not forget the importance of employee satisfaction. Often development schemes are geared in large parts to increase employee retention.

After the language training is completed, you may want to survey customer satisfaction levels. This will help gauge how effectively your staff are using their new communication skills to interact with clients. Similarly, you might test to see if sales are increasing in markets where the new language dominates. These KPIs will allow you to track the success of your business, in addition to the success of individual employees’ efforts.

Learning analytics equip HR leaders with the insights they need to make sound business decisions. To make the best decisions, you need to gather the right data—and to do that, you need to ask the right questions and set targeted learning goals.

Consider foundational skills via an initial assessment, and skill growth through real-time feedback. Balancing quantitative data with qualitative feedback will help HR leaders gather a holistic picture of their workforce and determine the best methods of preparing them to meet the demands of a growing organization.

For more information, download the Speexx white papers Rise of the Virtual Team and The Promise of Virtual Blended Learning.

About the Author

Mehdi Tounsi is MD for USA & Global Alliances at Speexx, the world’s leading online language training provider. With over 20 years’ experience in the learning industry, Mehdi has successfully implemented learning and talent management strategies for various industries, including content providers and LMS platform specialists. Mehdi assists global organizations in meeting the challenges linked to cultural diversity, improving communications within global operations and developing learning programs to enhance workforce mobility. Follow Mehdi on Twitter.