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The Flip Side of Cultural Training

November 7, 2008
Related Topics: Behavioral Training, Training Technology, Career Development, Employee Career Development, Featured Article
There’s nothing more American than baseball. So when MindTree Ltd., an Indian IT outsourcer, transferred a contingent of software engineers from Bangalore to New Jersey to work with a new client, one of their first outings was to Yankee Stadium.

    MindTree, a $191 million company with close to 8,000 employees who do work for clients all over the world, is a firm believer in cross-cultural training. That includes exposing Indian expats to how people work and play in the countries where they’re stationed, says Anish Philip, people function associate director at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Warren, New Jersey.

    Indian-based MindTree represents the flip side of the expat training that U.S. companies give their own employees before overseas assignments. But the actual training itself it pretty similar.

    About 500 of MindTree’s employees—the company calls them "minds"—are stationed in the U.S. at any given time working as project managers, sales representatives and account troubleshooters for clients such as Microsoft and eBay.

    Before leaving for an assignment, MindTree puts its Indian expats through cultural training sessions run by fellow employees who have already lived and worked in the U.S., covering everything from the documentation they’ll need to the proper way to speak to people.

    Employees get even more training once they’ve relocated. When MindTree signed a $6 million contract with CIT, a financial services conglomerate based in Livingston, New Jersey, about a year ago, the company moved about two dozen people from Bangalore to work on the account.

    Upon their arrival, the Indian employees went through a daylong training session with their CIT counterparts. Then it was off to that Yankees game for some bonding time with CIT staff. In addition to giving Indians workers a clue about what makes U.S. workers tick, socializing "created involvement and engagement in the team from both sides," Philip says.

    MindTree’s cultural training process goes both ways. MindTree encourages prospective clients to come to India "so they can get a feel of what the company is all about," Philip says.

    Americans hired to work in MindTree’s U.S. offices go to India for a couple weeks so they feel like part of the team there. "If they don’t have the connection to how Bangalore looks," Philip says, "they wouldn’t be doing their jobs as passionately."

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