A new model of global organization is coming to the fore. Traditional top-down hierarchies have been swept away in favor of agile and responsive ‘networks of teams’. These are virtual teams that are set up and disbanded as needed to create new products and services and meet fresh global challenges from new competitors.
The challenge organizations face is how best to build the skills base of individuals to optimize global virtual team working.
Deloitte has described this trend as ‘the rise of teams’. Many companies have already begun the move away from conventional functional structures – 92% of companies surveyed by Deloitte believe that redesigning the organization is ‘very important’ or ‘important’. Deloitte discovered that only 38% of all companies and 24% of large companies with more than 50,000 employees are organized function by function.
However, key to the success of contemporary, agile ways of working is ensuring that individual employees have the necessary skills for flexible working across borders.
e-Learning at the point of need
This is where virtual learning, a topic widely explained in the Speexx white paper ‘Making Good on the Promise of Virtual Learning’, comes in – e-Learning delivered at the point of need in the workflow.
An increasing number of organizations are developing virtual learning capabilities – 90% of respondents to the latest Speexx Exchange survey and the participants at the Speexx Exchange conference are now using e-Learning. Only 10% are not using e-Learning, compared with 19% of organizations describing themselves as new to e-Learning the previous year.
Language and communication skills are no longer a nice to have; in a world comprising global virtual teams, these skills are critical. Misunderstandings arising from language and communication issues are the biggest challenge facing virtual teams, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey. There is evidence that language and communication difficulties have jeopardized major cross-border transactions, with quantifiable financial impacts. Virtual learning has a major part to play in language and communications skills acquisition.
Virtual learning for virtual teams
Here are the top three tips for introducing virtual learning that will underpin successful virtual teams working across the world:
- Assess individual employees’ current language and communication skills. It is vital to map these competencies against a consistent global benchmark. Too often, local managers’ assessment of second language skills is overstated – the level of skill required for communication in business is higher than that needed to order a beer on holiday.
- Foster collaboration and communication among teams across the world. This will help bolster language and communication skills. It can be useful to provide virtual learning content on or alongside collaboration platforms, so that learners can access the learning content they need on the job. Virtual learning works best when it is part of a blended learning portfolio, supplemented with one-to-one coaching and mentoring. It is important to ring-fence time for all these learning activities.
- Align learning content explicitly with organizational objectives. So, if the organization is targeting a new vertical sector, make sure learners have access to content that will reflect the vocabulary they will need in that sector. Or if the organization is targeting a new country, learners may need support in softer cultural aspects of communication, such as turn of phrase and body language.
Providing virtual learning that will help employees gain language and communication skills wherever they are in the world, will contribute massively to the goal of creating an agile network of virtual teams. At the same time, it will contribute to engagement and retention levels, as employees will understand that there are many options available for self-development and promotion in the organization.
With a global talent pool ready and able to be deployed into virtual teams at a moment’s notice, the organization will be well placed to act quickly and stay ahead of the competition.
For more information, download the Speexx whitepaper ‘Making Good on the Promise of Virtual Learning’.
Speexx is a Silver Sponsor of NextSteps 2017, NetDimensions’ Global User Conference this May.
Armin Hopp is the Founder and President of Speexx. Speexx helps large organizations everywhere to drive productivity by empowering employee communication skills across borders. It offers an award-winning range of cloud-based online language learning solutions for Business English, Spanish, German, Italian and French. More than 8 million users in 1,500 organizations use Speexx to learn a language smarter and deliver results on time.
Speexx is also hosting an exclusive webinar, breaking down the Global Human Capital Trends as presented in the Deloitte trends report ´Rewriting the Rules for the Digital Age´, and designed to help professionals gain a better perspective on how to leverage the top ten HR and L&D predictions and impact learning in their organizations.
For more information, visit the Speexx website.