Are our Techies well prepared for their onsite assignments?

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Trivandrum: In the context of the recent Norway incident involving a techie couple, Kerala IT News decided to do a reality check on the preparedness of the IT professionals from Kerala, especially in terms of cross-cultural training and office etiquettes, among other things, while they go onsite at client locations. The results have been quite revealing.

While every IT professional looks forward to an onsite assignment, most of the time they are not well informed or equipped to handle a situation overseas. A short-term onsite may extend from a few weeks to six months and anything beyond that is long-term. The techies are usually comfortable and manage themselves well in English speaking countries.

Jayan P, Global HR Head of the Technopark based IBS Software said, “When we send our staff on an overseas assignment, we provide them adequate inputs on several focus areas, which enable them to get settled very easily in the new country. In addition, we equip our employees with inputs regarding transport, local directions, weather, etiquette and local culture and other delicate issues. We also give sessions on how to answer the queries from immigration and local authorities. Considering the recent developments in Norway, we are thinking of providing the employees more inputs on the local laws of the land related to different aspects of life.”

A senior techie with another leading IT company in Kerala confided that even though their Company policy states that they are supposed to get orientation before leaving onsite, whether short term or long term; in reality, it rarely happens. Finally, if something goes wrong at the Client side, they are capitalised for violating the company’s values and culture.

According to Ronia Virginia, a Cultural Consultant & HR Professional based in Stockholm for the last nine years, “When an Indian techie comes to a country in Scandinavia, they have very little or no idea about the laws and regulations of this society. These countries are not frequented by Indians so much as other western countries or European nations, so the knowledge is very little. The language in this region also poses a challenge for us to understand the social system. The company that is sending the employee on an assignment should take the initiative to educate their employees and their families about the culture and social system, which most of the IT companies don’t do as it adds to the cost. Most of them come to these places and have to figure out for themselves.”

Commenting on this issue, Babu Mohanan, CEO of Phykon Solutions said, “Let them get ready for a cultural shock. Many of them even do not realize the type of cultural shock they are going to make on those foreigners.”

Echoing his remarks was a Project Co-ordinator with a European retail chain based in Paris, “Last year, our systems were being migrated by an Indian IT Company and we always had a team of IT professionals from India working here. Sorry to say but at times, their conduct was unprofessional and disgusting. We are glad the work is over.” 

“Most of us when we go abroad are ignorant and have an ‘I don’t care’ attitude. We forget that when in Rome one must be Roman. I believe one must make an effort to learn a little about the culture if one is travelling for the first time to a new place. One cannot say I was ignorant about this or no one told me”, adds Ronia.

As the IT industry in Kerala spreads its wings across the globe by getting new clients / business or starting new centres at new places, they must also invest in improving their employee’s soft skills. After all, they are going to be their company’s brand ambassadors in an alien land.

Kerala IT News

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