Relationship status: complicated
The importance of translation in global communication
As a translation business, we are constantly reminded of the complex nature of human communication and the importance of a holistic, intelligent approach to using not only the right language but also the correct tone of voice, cultural parameters, and visual behaviour.
At the Growth Accelerator Awards ceremony last month, celebrating some of the fastest growing UK businesses, we had the privilege of being in the company of some of the best business brains in the country, being recognised for their innovation, bravery and boldness in business. The appetite for working globally was tangible and many of the companies present already work with clients and suppliers in a multilingual environment.
Great products, great supplier and great business brains, surely this is all-round greatness?
Except that it isn’t. What we heard again and again from our fast-growth peers was that language is increasingly becoming a barrier to business. Even with the best intentions and a rudimentary command of other languages, quick fix solutions such as online translation tools just aren’t cutting the mustard when it comes to doing business on a global scale and in multilingual environments.
Likewise, asking the native French speaker on your team to translate your website might initially seem like a cost effective idea, but without the full business context and understanding behind it and being able to actually copy-write in French, this approach often highlights the main problem with languages in a global business; taking it for granted.
Your multilingual speaking staff should not be tasked with translating documents and communications that may often be of a technical nature or too specialised for their personal expertise. In addition to the time taken to correctly translate these, which diverts that person from their day job, casual translation often omits the most important aspect of multilingual communications – relationship management.
How are you currently managing the relationship with your business partners in other languages?
Frequently, the answer is that only critically important communications are being translated with due care and attention and the rest are either done ‘on the fly’ or not at all. Imagine if you only spoke to your spouse to agree the most essential details around running the house. No pleasantries, checking in on their day or discussing future plans. Things would get tense pretty quickly.
To achieve success in global business, it is essential that all levels of communication are considered. Localising HR documents or training manuals for your staff in another region may seem of secondary importance for the senior level management team who all communicate in English, but could make a real difference in engaging and communicating with staff operating in other areas of the business.
Translation and localisation of marketing materials is the most common investment made by most global businesses. However, the client relationship cannot function without the essential communications within your organisation.
The key to simplifying the complexities of your global relationships is to speak the language not only of your customers, but also your suppliers, partners and staff. Integrate translation in your entire communications workflow and your business will be truly global.