For organizations that must communicate in multiple languages to their employees or consumers, defining your global communications strategy is an important step to ensure predictable outcomes, repeatable processes and standardized methodologies. It is by far the biggest pain point for most organizations.
Your plan may change over time as you should build in flexibility and the agility of the organization but it should be part of any wider communication plan that may already be in place.
1. Assessment – You need to know how your strategy for multilingual communications is aligned to business goals, which departments or divisions should be responsible for various objectives with those goals, and what your strengths or weaknesses are as well as your opportunities and threats.
We’re not going to just tell you to assess this but rather, we’re going to provide you with a tool, a global communication audit, that has all the questions based on a SWOT analysis. We want organizations to have a tool for success because 80% of organizations don’t have multilingual communications in their overall communications plan. This is when your language service provider should be a partner in your success.
2. Identify your champions – Who within your organization can “get a handle on International?” As you delve into assessment and bring various departments together, your champions may emerge. These are the people that may already have some sort of experience with cultural exchanges or may be fascinated by languages. They do NOT have to be bilingual. They are not going to be your translators but they should be someone that can promote and champion your initiative. Now identify those champions in various other locations outside your organization in other countries. They need to be part of the team if your plan is communications for employees. They will be your contacts and resources for regional adaptation of your plan to ensure cultural appropriateness of messaging, best channels and mediums to disseminate messaging within their location and add another layer of accountability for your communication goals.
3. Choose 2 to 3 objectives – After your initial assessment, you may find all kinds of weaknesses and threats. You are not going to be able to change everything at one time. Choose a limited number of objectives where you think you can have not only the most impact but also the most success in implementing that objective. Start small. Make gains. Deploy it through your organization. Raise awareness on the role of the communication function within your organization as you do so.
4. Take off the blinders – As you go through the process of identifying the objectives with which you want to work, you will find that there are inefficient processes within your organization on your side that affect the outcomes of cost, time and the quality of those communications. Translation and Localization does not have to be a black box to an organization. It’s time to take off the blinders and realize all that is involved and that many individuals in the organization have a responsibility toward achieving the objective . It’s not a hand off. The great benefit is that you will learn as you go along and this affects your global competency; that personal skill which makes you more valuable within any organization. So embrace the fact that this is also an opportunity for you, for personal growth.
5. Share your success – There are measures that are attached to progress within a global communications plan for multilingual communications. You may move up the Maturity Model, you may achieve a measure that is included in the global communication audit – yes, the metrics are there for you and you don’t need to figure them out. Now is the time to promote those successes and again, raise the level of awareness of the role and function of communication. You can use this to promote a case study to illustrate that success. You will be able to show that you are moving out of the reactive stage and into a proactive stage of localization maturity.
While both the need and the benefit to a global communications plan for multilingual communications might be obvious, the path to execution is anything but that for most organizations. Why not begin or add some of the Tools for Success that we have developed? Let us know how it goes… or contact us to discuss further.