How to Stop Being Just Another Corporate Extraction

Communication and language skills are critical when traveling abroad on business.We all have a vision of the corporate road warrior, an executive that hops from one place to another to lend some direction or expertise from the point of view of the home office. Of course, effectiveness is dependent mostly on the skills of the executive, but it’s usually an uphill battle. Few managers are humble enough to enjoy an outsider coming in with their viewpoints.

Now imagine how much more uphill that battle is when the road warrior is in a different country, working with people with whom they might have a significant communication divide.

There are ways to easily demonstrate how much value you can offer to their operation and level the playing field. Here are some ideas.

Make an effort in communications

No one wins any friends by expecting people to bend to their needs. Coming into meetings expecting everyone to speak English is fine if that’s a lingua franca of your organization, but just making an effort in communicating in their language can make a big difference.

“I’m in a corporate staff position, and I deal with our other HR staff in the US and Mexico, and there is always sort of a divide. It kind of humanizes someone who is bit of a corporate extraction who they may perceive doesn’t live in the real world. It’s a real bridge-builder,” said Penske Truck Leasing VP of Labor Relations Steve Lozon. He took advantage of the company’s Rosetta Stone learning program in an effort to better communicate with the company’s sizable Latino workforce at home and abroad.

It could be as simple as a greeting or a quick email. Whatever the case, that humanization process begins with communication.

Go outside the expected social engagements

When someone from corporate comes to town, everyone’s expectation is for the local management team to wine-and-dine them, sequester them in exclusive meetings, and genuinely wall them off from any spontaneous situations.

Now what if that same executive made it a point of having lunch in the cafeteria or break room? Management and the rank-and-file come away with the favorable impression of an executive that’s engaged with their operation, and the executive might actually come away with some valuable, unfiltered information. It’s a win-win.

Give and take

The traveling executive might come into town with orders from corporate, but that doesn’t extend the perception of adding value to the relationship. Legitimately help the satellite office in any challenges they might have—externally or in dealing with corporate. Make an effort to be a temporary part of their team. Share some non-offensive gossip if you have to.

To hear more about what Steve had to say about his experience in language training, read our new customer story.

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