We get a lot of questions on how to implement a content strategy across enterprises with thousands of employees. However, there is no single right answer or formula. Our clients also come from diverse backgrounds — English may not be their first instructional language.
In this article, we will discuss a couple of strategies that have worked for our clients over the years and the need for content localisation.
1. Different Content for Managers and Entry-Level Staff
The best strategy we have seen our clients adopt is to distinguish between content for managerial staff and entry level employees.
For most entry-level employees, their primary concern would be addressing their technical skills gaps. This concern is often resolved with instructional content.
For managers who have already acquired a certain level of technical capabilities and are making the transition into leading and managing a team, their primary concern would be building leadership and management skills. This concern can be addressed with motivational content.
In our experience, just focusing on these two groups is a simple and practical starting point for most organisations. Having content built around hard skills for entry-level staff and soft skills for management staff.
2. Start Small and Find Champions
Rolling out companywide L&D initiatives is very difficult due to issues with adoption. Adoption cannot be fully solved using technology as it often confronts company culture.
Organisations might not have the right experience and mindset to accept learning. I remember a time when I was an employee of a large MNC. I felt forced to go through e-learning content that I found more of a chore than a benefit.
Our advice is to start with a small group or department with forward-looking employees who are keen to take on learning and development. Use them as a testbed to roll out your new L&D initiative. If the initiative fails, the impact can also be minimized.
If the initiative is successful, this group can be your new L&D champions. Their success story can be shared to drive adoption across the larger organisation.
Local Language Content
A few questions must first be considered in order to evaluate the need for content in local language:
1. Availability of Professional Content in Local Languages
Useful content in the Asian context is extremely hard to find as the market has yet to grow large enough to justify heavy investments by content providers. Current L&D practices in Asian enterprises are at least 5 years behind their western counterparts. Therefore, many content providers choose not to focus on the Asian market, but create content using English and European languages.
For example, we have been trying to find strong local content providers in Vietnam for our clients. However, no local providers have met the benchmark comparable to the quality of content from other content providers in our ecosystem.
Although most of the best content is in English, we have put in place strategies to adapt English content to local needs.
2. Who Are My Audience?
You must know clearly the audience that the content is intended for. For example, most managerial staff can understand English content, but entry level employees might not.
What I would recommend is to get a sample of courses that a small group of employees can first try out. After the trial, employees can provide feedback on whether or not, and how the courses have been useful.
Trials can be done in both English and the local language. If it is observed that employees are highly adaptable to English content, language, then may not pose as a considerable barrier.
3. What Does Management Want?
You also need to understand what your management wants in order to convince them of best practices. For example, we have two clients in Vietnam, one which only wants content in Vietnamese and the other which only wants content in English. Each management has a distinct perspective on the type of content that will fit best with their organisational strategy.
By understanding how content aligns with overall learning strategy, L&D representatives must be prepared to give recommendations that might be different or even challenge management’s perspective. We find that higher management is often idealistic over content but lack oversight on the difficulties of execution as they are not involved in the day-to-day operations. It is the responsibility of the L&D team to provide honest and adequate advice.
It is important to understand the demographics of your workforce when it comes to implementing a successful learning strategy. There is no one-size-fits-all approach as every organisation is different. Only you know best what your organisation needs in order to be successful.
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