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Managing Foreign Language teams

With the competition ruling the knowledge industry, the companies are forced to adopt innovative ways of doing business. To be successful in retaining the old customers and to continue to be attractive to potential customers many of the BPO industries are forced to set up operations in the low cost countries like Mexico, Czech Republic etc to provide low cost services and language specific services to its customers. This method of expansion leads to the intake of foreign nationals into the company’s payroll. "Some analysts compare the strategy to Japanese penetration of auto manufacturing in the United States in the 1970s. Just as the Japanese learned to make cars in America without Japanese workers, Indian vendors are learning to outsource without Indians”, said Dennis McGuire, chairman of TPI, a Texas-based outsourcing consultancy. With the inclusion of multi lingual, multi cultural teams into the business entity it becomes difficult for the management to control and enhance the team work.

Upholding team rapport in a multi lingual team and cajoling them to work as a team thereby contributing significantly to the team must be done with great care and caution. The first step to be made is the removal of the language barrier between the teams. Many Indian companies like Wipro and Infosys provide language courses of different levels to its employees which can be pursued by them on the basis of the type of relationship existing between the employees of the two countries. Pursuing the first levels gives an insight to the basic courtesies while addressing the person. Following the traditional courtesies is the first sign of respect for the latter’s culture, which persuades the latter to follow the same while dealing with the former, thereby leading to mutual respect. Language courses also tell about the non-verbal signs which can be offensive to the culture of the latter.

The employees must be persuaded to use formal language while corresponding as the removal of slang and jargons can create a better understanding of the subject matter. With a major part of the work being conducted through mails in the knowledge industry, ensuring that the matter has been rightly understood by both parties is crucial. Similarly asking for feedbacks to make sure that the subject has been rightly understood is inevitable in the initial months until both employees understand each other. Do not judge the individuals on the basis of their accents or make fun of it as it can easily create a tense relationship between the two parties involved. Absorbing knowledge and skill set of the other people to oneself can widen one’s perception of doing work, thus paving the groundwork for the enhancement of career.

It is said that with the Indians growing up in a multilingual environment, they have an aptitude to acquire the reading and writing skills of various languages easily. With the need to maintain and improve the market share in the BPO business, the companies have started to look for people with multilingual skills as this makes people management easier.

People management in a world shrunk by globalisation has become very difficult. Coming up with innovative ideas to meet the demands have become the need of the hour.

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