Offshoring has always been popular among businesses looking to access skilled international talent and cost-effectively scale their operations.
And as companies look to offshore more complex business processes, training offshore employees becomes more important than ever. After all, you have to rely on your offshore team to manage your business efficiently while you’re far away on another continent.
But just like any process taking place abroad, offshore training comes with challenges like personnel deployment and cross-cultural awareness. This makes offshore training a complex task that needs careful handling.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of training for offshore teams and guide you through seven practical steps to successful offshore training. Finally, we’ll highlight three common offshore training mistakes to avoid.
Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
- Why conduct offshore training?
- 7 practical steps to successful offshore training
- 3 common offshore training mistakes to avoid
Why conduct offshore training?
On-boarding and skills-enhancement training are common in most companies’ in-house teams. So why should your offshore team be any different?
A study by Glassdoor shows that companies with strong onboarding processes increase new hire retention by 82% and improve productivity by as much as 70%.
Here’s why you should prioritize offshore team training.
A. Team integration
Your offshore team needs to feel like part of the team if you want them to be invested in the company and perform at their best. Effective onboarding and training are key to achieving this.
B. Cross-cultural issues
Your offshore team may not have a similar working culture to your in-house team. They may lack the effortless ability to connect via a shared language, customs, or preferences. Onboarding and regular training can help them familiarize themselves with your company’s culture.
C. Company procedures
Your offshore team needs training to learn practical issues like your company’s policies, team, and personal safety procedures, technology, and products or services. Training can help ensure the offshore team adheres to company standards and goals as well as the latest industry standards.
So, whether you’ve recruited an offshore crew to work on offshore oil rigs in the North Sea or a team of call center agents, you’ll have to prioritize training to ensure great returns on investment.
Now that we know why offshore training is necessary let’s discover how to go about it with a few practical training tips.
7 practical steps to successful offshore training
Convinced about the importance of offshore training but don’t know where to start?
Here’s a simple seven-step plan that can help:
1. Outline training objectives and milestones
Establishing the expectations before beginning any training course is vital.
Creating meaningful, relatable, and effective training objectives ensures the success of your offshore training.
You can begin outlining training objectives by asking yourself the following questions:
- What do I expect offshore trainees to learn during the training course?
- How will this outcome help the offshore team contribute to the company’s mission?
- How will trainees’ development benefit overall productivity and performance and contribute to the company’s growth and revenue goals?
Once you answer these questions, you must translate those goals into clear, measurable objectives with deadlines for completion. You’ll also need to outline what you hope to accomplish at each step of the process.
Your training objectives should also take trainees’ skill level and experience into account.
For example, new personnel would benefit more from introductory training like basic company policies and procedures before moving on to any advanced training.
Here are a few sample objectives:
- New members of the team will learn company policies and procedures.
- As a result of this training, team members will acquire basic knowledge about the company.
- This safety training will provide new offshore recruits with basic emergency sea survival skills.
- New hires will learn production floor safety and fire prevention.
- Team members will receive minimum industry safety training, including how to identify potential risks in the workplace, fire prevention, and emergency training.
- New team members will receive offshore emergency training to equip them with emergency response skills.
2. Identify onboarding and cross-cultural training needs
Professionals from opposite sides of the world will have different ways of doing things.
If you’re working with a mixed team of offshore and onshore team members, they have to be able to communicate effectively and adapt to each other’s cultural norms.
Here are a few examples of specific cross-cultural differences:
- Communication and tone: Some cultures expect employees to always defer to leaders and wait for opportunities, while others expect them to speak up and take initiative to be recognized.
- Eye contact: Some Western cultures expect high levels of eye contact and interpret looking away as a red flag when communicating. Whereas in Native American culture, direct eye contact can be seen as disrespectful.
- Interaction with management: In China, they consider it disrespectful to criticize managers or superiors in any way, whereas, in the U.S, it’s not regarded as taboo.
Once you’ve identified cross-cultural differences, you’ll need to:
- Integrate cross-culture competencies into your training plan – remember to include measurable outcomes.
- Do a pre-training intercultural competency appraisal. This will help you identify the extent of the barrier and set achievable targets.
- Organize internal training for your in-house team to orient them towards the offshore team’s cultural practices.
- Offer regular refresher training for long-term team members.
You can use the existing onboarding process designed for your in-house team to teach your offshore unit about your company standards. But for your offshore team, you can adjust the training to suit their communication needs.
You could even replace onboarding processes such as physical walkthroughs with virtual ones.
Also, remember that cross-cultural training doesn’t need to take the form of formal training – you can get creative.
For instance, say you’ve recruited a team for your offshore manufacturing operation and need to provide them with first aid and basic safety training.
You could have your team watch a training video and then host an inter-team discussion over Zoom. This way, everyone can interact, share knowledge or experiences, and be on the same page when it comes to your business.
3. Create a well-defined training plan
Once you’ve addressed cultural barriers and clearly defined outcomes, it’s time to create your training plan.
Here’s a training plan checklist to help you include the most relevant information:
- Who’s completing the training?
- Is the training program meant to onboard new offshore team members or will it also develop new skills and expand on existing ones?
- When will training occur? Will it be hands-on training or theory-based?
- Where will training take place – onsite, offsite, or online?
- What information will it include?
- Will any certification be issued on successful completion?
A well-defined training plan can help you cover all your bases.
4. Identify resources and tools required
Once your training plan is in place, you can identify what resources and tools are prerequisites to complete the training and provide these to team members.
Here are our picks for a few great tools to improve your offshore training:
1. Microsoft Teams for video conferencing
Microsoft Teams is a tool that facilitates face-to-face conversation.
Your team can always refer to training manuals, pre-recorded videos, and documentation post-training. But they need virtual instructor-led training or live sessions.
Since offshore workers can feel disconnected and isolated from the company, face-to-face interaction will help you bridge the gap.
During onboarding and training, Microsoft Teams can facilitate video conferencing with your offshore team. It’s also useful for brainstorming sessions, continuing education on the changing aspects of your business and industry, and when introducing new projects.
- Video conferencing, online meetings, and calls.
- Screen sharing capabilities.
- Host webinars and special team events.
- Instant messaging and file-sharing capabilities.
2. Talmundo for digital onboarding
Talmundo is a LMS (Learning Management System) software used by corporates like PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and ArcelorMittal for training new recruits.
Activities you can conduct using the tool includes:
- Delivery of training modules in bite-sized pieces of content.
- Introductions to other team members.
- Scheduling of regular check-in meetings.
Onboarding tools like this help make training of offshore team members fun and interactive, which increases the likelihood of knowledge retention.
- Intuitive learning page builder to create custom content.
- Schedule content delivery based on your offshore team member’s start date.
- Collect real-time feedback with interactive mini-surveys.
- Test new team members and keep them up to speed with important company information.
3. Time Doctor for performance evaluation
Time Doctor is a tracking software used by major companies like Ericsson and SMEs like Thrive Market.
It helps employers track their local and offshore teams’ performance while assisting users in taking control of their time management and productivity.
Here’s how Time Doctor can help you with training your offshore crew:
- Record and analyze critical data relating to employee performance for appraisal and training purposes.
- Assess the effectiveness of training programs in terms of productivity.
Additionally, it can help automate processes such as payroll management and attendance tracking for the offshore team.
- Flexible time tracking – manually and automatically, both online and offline.
- Assign projects and tasks to team members and track time individually for each task, project, or training module.
- Track time on the go with the mobile app for Android.
- Generate a range of detailed productivity reports.
- View screencasts and video recordings of your users’ desktops at set intervals.
5. Define measurable tracking metrics to monitor training progress
Tracking the progress and outcomes of training is critical to gauge whether objectives are achieved.
You’ll need to implement a tracking system with established parameters and use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure progress at each step or at the end.
Here’s a KPI example:
Say you want to measure the time it takes for an offshore team member to make their first sale.
Your KPIs will depend on your specific circumstance, industry, offshoring location, etc.
6. Delegate team members to oversee and mentor
Handling the entire offshore training process on your own can be problematic.
You can’t be everywhere at once, so it’s important to assign delegates that can help oversee and mentor new team members.
There are three options you can consider.
A. Offshore recruitment agency/ training provider/ training centers
Engage the services of an offshore recruitment agency or training provider that offers onboarding and training services. Leading personnel agencies that offer training courses for team members include Alliance Recruitment Agency and Atlas Professionals.
B. In-house team members
Allocate seasoned delegates from your in-house team to manage the process. These delegates should have excellent interpersonal skills to connect with their teammates from other cultures and know the ins and outs of your business.
C. Onboarding manager
If you engage in regular offshore training, you could hire an onboarding manager. Someone with a background and degree in International Studies would be an excellent fit for this role.
7. Ensure team cooperation
Training programs often fail because they are often considered burdensome by trainees.
So here are a few tips to help you avoid this problem:
- Explain the objectives and benefits of the training program, especially to the offshore team members themselves.
- Instead of making the training seem like a mandatory addition to their workload, make it fun and interactive.
- Offer bite-sized information and limit the duration of each training session, so team members remain engaged, don’t get bored, and retain the information they acquire.
Your local management team could arrange occasional visits to your offshore team’s location if possible.
Next, let’s discover the errors companies often make when engaging in offshore training.
3 common offshore training mistakes to avoid
Here are a few common mistakes and how you can avoid them.
1. Inadequate provision of materials and tools
Many companies rely on outdated training course materials and manuals filled with industry-specific jargon. This approach will make offshore team members feel overwhelmed because of the sheer volume of information being given to them.
Additionally, without the appropriate technology, your operation will take longer to produce the outputs you need to generate revenue.
Having a proper training program prepared and modern tools and resources ready is crucial if you want your offshore training to succeed.
Avoid outdated tools like Powerpoint presentations or lengthy monologues which can bore trainees. Once team members lose interest in the training, the chances of them retaining the information are low.
2. Disregarding time zones and cultural differences
Since your offshore team may come from anywhere in the world, your regular working hours may differ from theirs. So meetings and other training program tasks should take place at a convenient time for all team members.
If you’re based somewhere in North America (for example, New York), you probably wouldn’t schedule a meeting on Christmas Day. Likewise, it’s important to consider the public holidays in your offshore location.
Avoid scheduling important training events on these days and only call meetings if it’s an emergency.
Also, take team members’ current workloads into account when scheduling training. Training sessions shouldn’t cause their work to suffer.
Additionally, you shouldn’t expect team members to work long hours to fulfill their targets because they were in training for the entire workday.
3. Inefficient communication of objectives
If your new recruits aren’t aware of your expected standards, how can they meet them?
That’s why there should be no confusion when it comes to expected outcomes.
Here are a few tips for efficient communication of these objectives:
- Schedule regular check-ins with your offshore team throughout the duration of your offshore operations.
- Use collaborative software and ensure everyone on the team knows how to use it.
- Opt for visual communication whenever possible.
- Develop an online work culture and engage with employees in their preferred way. For example, via email, Slack, or social media like LinkedIn.
- Construct and distribute a company-wide communication guideline.
Offshoring is a popular business activity these days, and it’s easy to see why – the benefits are undeniable. However, the success of your offshore operation lies in your ability to find and train the right team.
And to truly succeed in today’s ever-changing business landscape, training your offshore team should be an ongoing process.
While organizing regular offshore training can be a daunting task, the information here should help you get started on developing your own successful offshore training strategy.
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.