How to Teach Staff from Different Cultural Backgrounds

This week we are sharing with you an article written by Alina Burakova of EduReviewer.

Cross-cultural miscommunication is a hallmark of today’s workplace. Cultural miscues often lead to ineffective workplace communications, which can affect productivity. If you are dealing with a situation that requires teaching staff from different cultural background, read on. In this post, we are going to discuss how you can create an effective training program in a cross-cultural setting.

If the staffs in a workplace have some knowledge about dealing with cultural issues, they can behave in the right way to keep the workplace vibrant. In terms of providing feedback, a typical American manager is very different from a typical French manager. While accentuating the positives is a norm in America, blunt feedback is more common in France. To teach staff from different cultural backgrounds, you have to be a bit strategic.

What’s Effective?


People coming from different countries are different in invisible and subtle ways. To make a training program effective, you have to address those differences. If you want to provide criticism, you have to find a constructive way to do it.

For decades, German, Indian and Japanese companies have provided their employees with this type of training. They often send their employees to foreign countries to learn about these subtle differences in business practices. Most employees do not like training programs, and that is one of the reasons why a training program needs to be strategic.

Providing cultural sensitivity training is a complex task, and many companies are using artificial intelligence to make the job easier. SAP is a company that uses software to impart training to staff from many different cultural backgrounds. The company has branches in more than 130 countries. SAP employees can receive interactive instructions and classroom-based training. Employees are trained by both external and internal trainers.

Working Through Discomfort


Teaching your staff only the nuances of cultural differences is not enough. Trainers should also be taught how to act in uncomfortable situations. Focusing on real life situations is the hallmark of a good training program.

According to experts, globalization has played a very important role in narrowing the business gap between countries. But it is clear that globalization has done little to narrow the cultural gap. Understanding behavioral nuances is now a business necessity.

You have to assess your workforce even before you design your training program. Some employees will provide useful input. Ensure the confidentiality and anonymity of those employees.

Practices To Implement


Your staff can work as a unit only when they can overcome cultural differences. So, you have to focus on promoting cultural awareness. Here are a few tips that will help you promote cultural awareness.

Clarify the Concept of Global Citizenship


Help your employees gain cultural knowledge. To make your teaching effective, hold training classes. Help them understand the fact that the global workplace is getting increasingly diverse, and understanding people from different countries is a must.

Tell your students that they should talk about their job in the language of globalization. In your formal training, also cover things that are directly related to your business. Address topics such as business etiquette, communication, marketing skills, and negotiation skills.

Focus on Communication Skills


In order to get along with people from different cultures, your staff must develop good communication skills. The way one communicates with others is a very important thing. To become a good communicator, one should try to learn the language of the other person. The staff whose first language is not English can practice English speaking regularly. However, many business people use skilled translators for effective communication.

Talk about Good Manners


Having good manners is a prerequisite for working with people from different cultural backgrounds. Saying “thank you” and “please” is very important in some countries. Talk to your staff about being polite, caring and respectful. In some situation, it is appropriate to be informal. Talk about those situations as well.

Encourage your Staff to Listen to Their Colleagues


Observing foreign colleagues and customers is another great way to develop cultural awareness. When in a foreign country, they should observe the local people and follow suit. Tell your staff that in a foreign country, listening is more important than talking.

By observing the behaviors and attitudes of foreign colleagues and customers, your staff will learn many important things. Even if the behaviors seem confusing and odd, it is important to react in a rational and calm way.

Pay Attention to Cultural Differences


When your employees pay attention to significant differences in culture, they become more culturally sensitivity. In spite of differences, there are many similarities in cultures. For example, discussing religions or politics in the workplace is inappropriate in most cases. There are some other sensitive topics that should be avoided in most situations. However, if your staff talk about these things and get into trouble, you should try to handle the situation wisely.



Culturally literate staff can certainly make a workplace better. They make their co-workers feel respected, and enhance communication and productivity. However, teaching staff from diverse cultural backgrounds is a sensitive task and that is why you have to be very strategic. We hope the tips provided in this post will help you do a better job.

Author bio:

Alina Burakova has been writing articles for over a decade. Her writing has helped many big organizations. Alina has also been a tutor on some of the best tutoring websites. Her mission is to help professionals deal with people from different cultural backgrounds.

2 thoughts on “How to Teach Staff from Different Cultural Backgrounds”

  1. I’m bilingual bicultural so I can really zero on different cultures but people who have only one language and culture are often CLUELESS on handling multi-cultural situations. You gave good general tips but cultures have so many levels of interactions that ‘clueless’ is equivalent to ‘hopeless’.

    I recommend the book: “Figuring Foreigners Out: a Practical Guide” by Craig Storti. It is the absolute best eye opener to different cultures and a must read in the situations you are talking about.

Leave a Reply