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Oct 26, 2016

Help Your Team Members Improve Their English

As a manager, you are in a unique position to make a meaningful impact

Managers are vital partners in helping employees improve their English skills at work. Without the guidance and feedback, it is extremely difficult for coaches to design lessons that will help team members make meaningful and noticeable improvements in their English. Whether the entire staff in the Tokyo office is taking English classes or you have identified individuals at the US headquarters who are being held back because of their communication practices, management’s participation is integral to success.

According to an article by Forbes Insights on reducing the impact of language barriers, “The impact of these language barriers may be significant. Asked about consequences, nearly two-thirds of respondents (67%) said that miscommunications were leading to inefficiency. More than 40% noted that miscommunication made collaboration difficult, and a similar percentage noted that productivity was lower than it should be due to language barriers.”

Some questions to think about if you are considering if a team member would benefit from language training:

  1. Have you ever given “needs to improve his/her English” feedback?
  2. Is there a strong accent that is difficult for everyone to understand?
  3. Are verbal instructions often misunderstood but not written ones?
  4. Are presentations boring – monotone voice, poor eye contact?
  5. Are presentations have poor formatting or too much detail?
  6. Is extreme discomfort obvious when speaking in front of a group?
  7. Are Q&A sessions a struggle?
  8. Does he seems to lose track when many people are talking?
  9. Does he have difficulty socializing?
  10. Are his emails full of grammatical mistakes?
  11. Are blog posts grammatically correct, but meandering?
  12. Does he share great ideas after meetings, instead of during them?
  13. Does he attempt to talk, but hesitate or speak too fast or quietly?
  14. During brainstorming sessions, does he fail to bring up ideas?
  15. When challenged, is he unable to champion their ideas?

The list can go on and on, and will be unique to each employee. Please provide specific objectives—on their performance appraisals and for their English lessons. Remember, we are often not the best judges of what we need to improve. If you can give your staff (and their coaches) a clear roadmap, we can help them reach their destination—to become more competent and confident English speakers.