The wire nail machine manufacturer ENKOTEC has customers throughout the world. A series of workshops focusing on selected markets – including Latin America, Russia, East Africa and Nigeria – has provided ENKOTEC’s employees with tools for developing an even closer dialogue with their customers globally.
ENKOTEC is a world-leading supplier of machinery for the manufacture of wire nails. The company is headquartered in Skanderborg, Denmark, has sales- and support offices in North and Latin America, and customers all over the world.
This means that most of ENKOTEC’s staff are frequently in contact with customers and partners from different countries and cultures, either by mail, videoconference, or face-to-face, for instance when training customers in the use of ENKOTEC’s machines.
A good and close dialogue with the customers is a high priority for ENKOTEC. In order to achieve an even better collaboration with their global customers, ENKOTEC in 2015 choose to focus on enhancing the company’s cultural awareness and contacted C3 Consulting.
ENKOTEC wanted a series of workshops that could both strengthen the employees’ intercultural skills in general and give them a better understanding of the culture on the specific markets where ENKOTEC’s customers are located.
In collaboration with ENKOTEC, C3 designed a series of mini-workshops, which we carried out during 2015.
On the first workshop, almost all of the 45 employees from ENKOTEC’s Danish head office participated, including managers, salesmen, back office staff, technicians, process instructors, production employees, and machine fitters. Here the participants worked with cultural self-understanding, cross-cultural communication, and development of a global mindset. This workshop gave the ENKOTEC staff a common frame of reference they could use in their further work with cultural awareness.
On the subsequent workshops we focused on the following specific cultures, countries, and regions:
The participants on these workshops were managers and employees who are in contact with the markets in question. Before each workshop, we interviewed key staff at ENKOTEC, so that we could tailor the content to the participants’ needs.
The focus of all workshops was to provide the ENKOTEC employees with tools for strengthening communication and collaboration with customers and partners globally. Typically, we covered the following subjects:
A common thread running trough all workshops was C3’s 4R-model. This model focuses on the 4 cultural dimensions Rank, Responsibility, Risk and Relationship that are important to be aware off when working across cultures.
The 4R-model provided a framework for the knowledge the participants gained about the different countries and cultures. The participants also learned how to use the model to explore what is at stake in cross-cultural collaborations and to achieve better results by adjusting your own working style.
After each workshop, a new 4R-model for the culture in focus was put up in ENKOTEC’s canteen. Later, the 4R-models were posted on ENKOTEC’s intranet, so the employees can continuously revisit the models and brush up on the most important learning points from the workshops.
Bent Just Petersen, Managing Director and Sales Manager in ENKOTEC, says about the results of the workshops:
"We have machinery and equipment all over the world, and customer service and follow-up is an important aspect of our services. But once in a while, we’ve been puzzled by the way our customers behave. Now we’ve obtained an insight into our customers’ cultural background, which gives us a better understanding of their behavior and knowledge of how to adjust our own way of doing things.
Especially the 4R-model has proven to be a very useful tool for us. It has given us a wider and deeper understanding of why people behave like they do, and what to be aware of when dealing with the different countries and cultures. And the model has made us realize that it’s the Danes that are different from other cultures, rather than the other way around.
We found the trainers very qualified, because they had a relation to the region they were talking about. They had lived and worked there. So the things they were teaching us was not just something they’d read about, but something they’d actually experienced in real life.
There’s no doubt that the workshops have given us a better understanding of our customers’ different cultural backgrounds. We’ve acquired some tools to put in our toolbox and refer to whenever we need them. And we frequently check out the 4R-models on our intranet so we can brush up on the key points.
I’ll definitely recommend C3 to others, and there’s a big chance that we’ll return as well with some new, exciting countries, we want to hear more about."
Hanne Krog-Meyer, After Sales and Marketing & Support Manager at ENKOTEC, says about the benefits of the workshops:
"We only have one customer in Denmark, the rest are international, and it’s essential for us that our employees understand how to communicate with these customers. This applies to our service technicians who we send out to customers around the world, and also to our employees in Denmark who are in contact with our global customers at a distance. So these cultural sessions have been really important for us.
One of the most interesting points has been to realize how different we are in Denmark compared to actually most of the world. To be aware that people in the rest of the world don’t think and behave like us Danes, that’s very important.
I particularly found the 4R-model useful. It’s good to keep in mind and it gives a greater awareness when communicating across cultures, both per e-mail and in general.
Especially the dimension of Rank has been important. We’ve sometimes experienced that our employees thought they’d made an agreement with our customers, but then nothing happened, and that surprised us.
After these workshops, we’ve realized that it often has something to do with Rank. Maybe our employee has communicated with a person too low in the customers’ hierarchy, or maybe we haven’t involved employees or leaders with a "high enough" title. In this context, we’ve agreed that it has been a great help to participate in these workshops.
I also think that the trainers were good at involving the participants by ensuring that there was a continuous dialogue, and that everyone could ask questions. And it worked really well that there were two trainers present. They were able to complement each other, which made it very dynamic.
And then it’s been really great to have workshops on so many different regions, because we’ve become more and more familiar with the 4R-model, which has formed a common thread throughout all workshops."
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