You’ve seen your business grow into markets you wouldn’t have dreamed of when you first started out. You’re very proud that you’ve been able to onboard people from around the world, who bring languages and cultures that just add to your organization’s melting pot. This is what a business in the 21st century is supposed to look like.
Not so fast, says Harvard Business School professor Robert Steven Kaplan.
All of this growth might be adding to the bottom line, but without a concerted language strategy, you’re leaving money on the table.
Professor Kaplan, along with Tsedal Neeley, wrote last year in the Harvard Business Review:
As we have observed in countless organizations, unrestricted multilingualism creates inefficiency in even the most dedicated and talented workforces. It can lead to friction in cross-border interactions, lost sales, and a host of other serious problems that may jeopardize competitiveness. Developing a comprehensive strategy for managing language can help transform that vulnerability into a source of competitive advantage.
He should know. He led global investment banking at Goldman Sachs for over 20 years.
So what goes into a business language strategy? That’s what this series of posts will focus on. A comprehensive strategy considers:
- Whether or not to adopt a lingua franca
- Judging talent based on language skills
- How language fits into your firm’s value proposition
- Your HR department’s blind spots regarding language
- The challenges of cross-national communications through technology
- Whether or not fluency is a suitable goal
- The role managers play in a language strategy
- Building a language training budget
This all ties in with a free webinar we are producing featuring Professor Kaplan entitled “Why Your Business Needs a Language Strategy”. The webinar will go live on Tuesday, April 21st at 11 am EDT. Through this informative 30 minute conversation with the professor, you will gain a greater understanding about the role language plays in the business world and how to craft your own language strategy.