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HRTV: Best coaches on diverse cultures

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Singapore – Instead of using classroom training to help new leaders learn and manage intercultural differences across diverse offices, the best coaches are found within the company.

It is important that companies find the right coaches to help leaders on understanding cultural differences, according to Fons Trompenaars, one of the top 50 most influential management thinkers alive as identified by Thinker 50.

The good news is Trompenaars says the best coaches are already available within the company. They would be senior leaders who are familiar with the business scope, who understand the depth of cultures they have worked in, and had experience managing both intercultural and international teams. Pairing them up with new leaders will help the newbie learn far better than in a classroom setting.

However, the managing director of Trompenaars Hampden-Turner Intercultural Management Consulting says improving a manager’s intercultural people skills is similar to grasping a foreign language. Both require the learner to invest time and effort in to learn and practise the skills on a daily basis.

“You cannot learn a new language in half a day. For some, it takes a lifetime,” Trompenaars said. “[It is the] same with cultural differences.”

Trompenaars suggests using a “modular approach” to help leaders understand cultural differences when they are posted to a new country. Breaking up the learning process into bite-sized modules will give them opportunities to apply what they have learnt in their everyday life.

The module should also include a process that allows leaders to exchange feedback with their internal trainers and the local teams. Trompenaars says leaders can then create their own case studies and share that information with others when it’s their turn to coach on cultural diversity.

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