The Challenges of Managing a Multilingual Business

It is said that we live in a global society and nevermore has this been the case. Today, with the widespread availability of the internet and a global telecommunications system, it is becoming more and more important to discover ways of effectively communicating with people from every corner of the earth. If you are the company director or head of HR who is involved in the daily management of a multilingual business, it is imperative that you understand the challenges you are up against.

The Number of Languages Being Spoken Day-to-Day

No longer can a company owner or director simply say “English is spoken here. Learn it or find other employment.” Not only is this a clear case of discrimination in many cases but that one employee’s level of experience and knowledge could be superior to any ten of your other staffers and as a result, attractive enough to want to work around the language barriers. As a director of a large enterprise, the first thing you need to do when managing a multilingual business is to take a specific poll. How many different languages are being spoken in your organization on a daily basis? This is where you begin designing how you will manage both the company and interpersonal communications.

How Deep into the Structure of the Organization Do Those Languages Go?

Next you need to assess just how deep into the structure of your organization does any given language go? For example, someone on the maintenance team wouldn’t need to learn how to describe company products and services in their native tongue because it will never be their job to bring in sales. However, if you are communicating with a member of your sales team you might need to assist them in learning to communicate with production, prototype or quality control.

What Level of Proficiency Is Needed from Job to Job?

In a case like the above, it is easy to find a professional translator for most spoken languages other than, perhaps, aboriginal dialects that have little interaction with the main demographics in a given location. You might want to consider having your training manuals translated into the main languages spoken within your organization at the same time. Finally, before seeking to find a translator or honing up on another language to better communicate with staff members, consider the level of proficiency that is needed in that specific job. If that employee doesn’t need to communicate often in your native language, then it just might mean that other staffers can translate on the rare occasions you need to communicate with that person.

The wider your reach to a global audience and to workers from around the world, the more important it will be to establish a better coordination of communications. As the company director or head of HR, it is your job to establish communications to improve working conditions within the business. This is the main challenge when managing a multilingual business but take heart. It is one that can be easily dealt with. From hiring a professional translator to appointing key people within your enterprise, it is possible to breach the language barriers. Managing a multilingual business is challenging for sure, but in the end, it’s just as rewarding and you will be glad you opened the lines of communications.

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