Success Story: Intercultural expat training course for the construction industry in Thailand with Max Bögl Group

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The Max Bögl Group, with its 6,500 highly-qualified employees and an annual turnover of more than 1.7 billion euros, is one of the largest construction service providers in Germany. Quality and innovative solutions are in demand all over the world, which is why it is no surprise that Max Bögl also successfully implements projects on the other side of the globe. ti communication is an associate of Max Bögl, supporting the Group and its employees with intercultural expatriate training courses.

Molly Ng tic Hintergrund 07 2014We spoke with senior trainer Molly Ng about her intercultural expat training courses on Thailand for the Max Bögl Group, particularly with regard to opportunities and challenges for the construction industry in an intercultural context.

What courses did you conduct in support of Max Bögl?

I was able to support Max Bögl with intercultural expatriate training on Thailand for construction technicians and construction managers. The goal of the training was to sensitize the employees to the culture of Thailand and the behavior of their Thai colleagues and the general population before they leave for their foreign assignments.

What advantages do you think construction companies can gain from intercultural expat training?

The majority of the participants had either never been to Asia or only for a vacation. By sensitizing the employees, a construction company can especially expect a smooth and speedy conduction of projects abroad. Because of the need of participants to communicate using “sign language” due to a lack of a common language, knowing a few cultural basics is vital to successful collaboration. In addition, it eases any fears and/or prejudices on the part of the expats, which has a positive effect on the satisfaction of the employees.

Which employees were the target of the training?

The expat training courses were primarily conducted for construction technicians and a few construction managers – so not for the management level, which is usually the target group of intercultural training. The group of participants consisted of German and – what is typical of the construction industry in Germany – Czech employees, whereby the training for the Czechs was held in English with translation into Czech.

Are there any intercultural challenges that are specific to the construction industry?

Construction sites in Germany and around the world employ workers from the most varied of cultures and nations. The fact that many construction specialists often do not speak fluent English makes mutual understanding even harder, so people have to resort to gestures and simple terms when communicating. The greatest intercultural challenge – not only at foreign construction sites, but also in Germany – is probably communication among each other. At construction sites, employees communicate in a very factual, direct, and goal-oriented manner. Such project communication, which is commonplace in Europe, can be confusing or lead to misunderstandings, especially for foreign colleagues, if they do not know how to interpret it.

Many construction companies only do business in the German-speaking realm. Are intercultural training courses only of interest to large construction companies also active at foreign construction sites?

No! Even at German construction sites, a large number of companies and employees from various cultures come together. German employees may not have a specific need for special expat training courses, yet intercultural training leads to a sensitization of participants and can thus contribute to resolving conflicts more easily or avoiding them completely.

What differentiates intercultural training with on-the-job construction technicians from training for managers and executives?

In training courses for executives, the focus is generally on personnel management, negotiation strategies and the “correct” way to deal with foreign executives. Intercultural training for construction technicians is much more specifically tailored to topics related to the construction site itself. One important aspect was also the different interpretations of (work) precision and speed in Germany and Thailand. In addition, training for technicians is also more interactive and utilizes even more case studies than is already the case for management training.

Do you consider further support of the expat employees to be useful?

Definitely! Even after an intercultural expat training course, questions can crop up in the target country, so it’s beneficial if those expats have an expert to turn to in such cases. ti communication offers follow-up training and coaching which, thanks to our international trainer network, can be conducted anywhere – including Thailand.

Are you interested in an intercultural training for a special country? Then take part in one of our open training courses or get your individual offer by contacting us

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Wednesday, 19 December 2018

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