Language is pervasive in everything that we do, from routine tasks to intricate business relations. Being able to communicate in an efficient and effective manner is key to streamlining business operations. Without a common language, unbridled multilingualism has the potential to cause all manner of communication mishaps and misunderstandings. Likewise, a complete lack of a common language leads to stagnancy and curtailment of progress. As such, having a common language, a.k.a a lingua franca, is the key to charting a course for an efficient and successful company.
Choosing a lingua franca can be a little difficult, but it’s a safe bet that English is a good choice. Though there is no universal language, English can be looked at as the international language of business. Implementing a learning solution for your company can quickly and notably improve collaboration and communication between branches and international teams. As such, the language that will be used within the company should be firmly and clearly established to any new member of staff, so that they are informed from the very beginning as to how communication will be carried out. Of course, it’s not necessary that the lingua franca is used within monolinguistic groups, but it should be a flagged requirement that this common language will be needed when dealing with external members of the company or team. It is the responsibility of upper management to gauge when English should be used, or when this will be counterproductive. For this reason, it’s recommended to provide employees with an accessible and actionable corporate learning solution, so that they will feel comfortable in their English usage when they switch between languages.
Not only will having English as a lingua franca streamline and facilitate the daily operations of a business, but on a larger level, it helps to unify interlinguistic members of staff and strengthen the policies and beliefs of the company.
When onboarding new employees, employers should be aware of the fact that placing too much emphasis on fluency, in any language, may prevent the right candidate from being selected for the job. It is the responsibility of the employer to choose who they believe deserves the role, and language shouldn’t always be the determining factor here. Moving forward, the employer should implement a corporate language solution, so that employees can perform their duties to the best of their abilities and with linguistic competence. It is an unfortunate but common practice to seek linguistically equipped new members of staff, rather than providing existing employees with the necessary language skills. Before any kind of linguistic training is even considered, it should be a priority that the general training is provided in a method that works for the employee, whether this be in their native tongue or a common language such as English. If it is conducted in a common language, concept checking, and clarification are key in order to ensure that training practices are understood and accepted.
It is up to the company the level of detail and investment they put into finding a language strategy, such as hiring a language consultant, conducting company questionnaires, level tests, etc. Once the demand is understood and the approach tailored towards the company, don’t hesitate to implement a language solution as quickly as possible. In terms of corporate strategy, this implementation allows fellow companies to know that language and communication is one area that will be continuously improved and strengthened within the business. It also lets fellow businesses know that you are open and available to do international business and collaborate with ease. Furthermore, the existence of a workforce that is continuously and consistently improving its language skills shows a level of dedication and commitment that will be echoed in further business operations and collaborations. Employers should note that language training should be made accessible for employees, therefore expenses should be covered by the company and classes should be held during working hours. This will ensure a higher rate of participation, attendance, and overall reward.
Any international business, or a business with hopes to become international, should be informed of the importance of being culturally aware and appropriate when considering business with other nationalities. Having a lingua franca such as English does not immediately create a cultural understanding between members of various nationalities. This applies to senior and junior members alike. Leaders must be prepared to tailor their approach to suit a multicultural workforce. Understanding the cultural background of their employee is crucial to delivering quality mentorship and guidance. Not only that but having a cultural knowledge of the market and climate of international business is a key factor in improving your corporate strategy. On the flip side, a lack of cultural understanding can lead to both miscommunication and employee dissatisfaction within the company. Cultural training should be included in a language solution if necessary, in order to equip employees with the skills needed to negotiate, make decisions, network, etc. Even something as simple as having the correct etiquette and social cues for an international business meeting could give your company a corporate advantage over another. Mistakenly assuming that another country will understand and accept the norms of your own nation can be a grave mistake, so be aware that you must brush up on the cultural customs of a place before doing business with its inhabitants, or employing somebody from a different nation.
Corporate strategy varies from enterprise to enterprise. Some business owners choose to focus on profitability, some dedicate themselves to providing quality leadership, and some focus on growth and development within the company. Whichever path of corporate strategy comprises the basis for success in your company, the driving force behind this strategy is to improve the company overall. It’s crucial that business owners do not overestimate the power and efficiency of having a workforce that can communicate on a streamlined level, by having a lingua franca. Of course, adequate training should be delivered to each employee regardless of language, in order to prevent language from becoming a barrier within the workplace. Following this, a corporate language solution should be a permanent fixture to provide new and current employees the constant opportunity for growth and development. Furthermore, increasing cultural awareness and expanding the cultural horizons of your enterprise will always be a ticket to success, and you can be sure of a higher rate of employee satisfaction in an environment where all employees are understood, accepted, and welcomed. And lastly, maintaining and showcasing this effort towards both language growth and cultural awareness acts as a gleaming flagpost to other enterprises, highlighting that you are both committed to and enthusiastic about upholding a business that can communicate internationally and across various cultures.