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Neil Payne

Commisceo Global


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6 Common Pitfalls in Global Training Roll Outs


Developing a training course or module which can be rolled out globally is often the preference of many international businesses and organisations.

In many cases, internal logic and/or culture dictates that HQ is the heart of a company and from there it disseminates its culture and values to the rest of its limbs, (in this case its employees), through training.

The result, it is hoped, is a homogenous training solution that can be used across the world by the whole organisation, cementing a company culture, improving a service, setting certain standards, informing of rules or establishing new initiatives or KPIs.

This however is not always the case. A myopic approach to global training roll out can and does unfortunately lead to failings in efficacy.

Based on personal experience working on global roll out projects, here are some of the common pitfalls stakeholders need to take try to avoid:


Even within companies that adopt an English only policy, employees can get easily bogged down with language. For example, a company which rolled out a course on finance for its employees across global sites soon realised the big mistake they had made by using very complex terms in slides and handouts. The participants were having to spend more time understanding terms and concepts rather than learn anything. As well as ensuring language is easy and accessible, translation of content into foreign languages should also be considered to improve engagement and the learning experience.


How a training intervention is delivered can become the subject of hot debate among those involved in a global roll out. Financial, operational and internal political considerations often fuel differing opinions. What all sides agree upon however is that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ format for everyone. Although E-learning is a common format adopted by Western companies when rolling our training to other countries, experience has shown that uptake is often poor due to it being perceived as impersonal and not constituting ‘real’ training.  A flexible and adaptable approach to format needs to be taken with consideration for of the best approach for local conditions.

Learning Styles

Even within the delivery of face-to-face training, format makes all the difference in terms of success. Some cultures prefer to be taught in the traditional sense of a teacher-figure, with experience and skills, imparting on them things they must know or do. Other cultures prefer a training environment where it is more about learning with peers and sharing experiences to come to a group consensus. For example, an American IT company rolled out a ‘gamified’ approach to some training for its staff in India; the training flopped because the Indian staff simply did not get what they were supposed to be doing – learning? Or playing? Developing a training solution and expecting it to work in different countries underplays the importance of our distinct cultures, values and learning preferences.


A global roll out of training can turn political if approached in the wrong manner. As and where power dynamics exist within an organisation between HQ and its satellite offices, it can be perceived by the latter as being ‘their’ training implemented on ‘us’. The result can be poor cooperation and a lacklustre implementation of any initiatives. For example, the Korean management working in the Seoul office of a French company rebelled against a new training initiative which they saw as prioritising French culture and values over local ones. They saw it as aggressive and it soured relationships. Global roll outs must get everyone involved from the start. This not only avoids messy situations but leads to a better result.


Like ownership, who researches and writes the outlines, content, agendas, slides, etc for the training is a very sensitive issue. A lack of input from all those who have an interest in the training can lead to a feeling that views are not being listened to or represented. Should training be seen not to be addressing local issues and challenges, but rather outside interests and/or one point of view, it loses respect.  For example, a German company implemented a series of training courses for its global employees on customer service. Feedback from many participants across the world highlighted that much of what was talked about in the training was completely irrelevant to local conditions, rendering it useless. What is important to bear in mind is the point of view being prioritised; it needs to be as widely informed as possible to deliver global impact.

Measuring Success

How training is measured in terms of its success is usually controlled by the same people that developed it. The parameters set, the specific measurements tracked and the value in terms of being a success or failure can all easily fall foul of a single-minded approach. This risks the true success or failure of any given training initiative being properly understood. For example, feedback forms may give glowing marks to a new online course yet it sometimes takes an independent party (or a brave manager) to point out that respondents did so for cultural reasons, i.e. not to make the trainer feel bad, not to be seen as a trouble maker by HQ, not to appear as though they have not learned anything. How success is measured, by who and in what ways should be thought through thoroughly by stakeholders to ensure the global roll out is really working.

Global roll outs and centralisation of training content is here to stay. What experience of such initiatives has demonstrated however is that the approach to planning and implementation requires informing by more sides than one.


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Neil Payne


Read more from Neil Payne

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