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The Rise of the CLO: Intercultural Training as a Skill 

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CEO, CFO, COO, CIO...CLO? Most of these c-level positions may be familiar to you, but the CLO, or Chief Learning Officer, is perhaps a new addition. While the CLO title has been around for nearly 30 years, not all companies have yet incorporated the valuable role.  

The CLO helps to guide employees to find their own sense of purpose as related to their role in the company. A successful CLO helps align the talents and interests of employees, which ultimately benefits the company greatly. Progressive companies across industries and cultures are adding this position as a proactive caretaker of exception talent.  

Qualities of a CLO 

First and foremost, a CLO should be someone who enjoys learning new things and constantly seeks out information that will benefit the company. They will be a visionary who can set and achieve goals. Their analytic, collaborative mind will consider technology to be second nature. According to topclo.com, the high-impact hire is the overseer of leadership, change, capability, talent, and people management throughout the organization. 

"Learning and leadership are indespensible to each other." -John F. Kennedy 

The CLO consults closely with the c-suite, working in tandem with Human Resources and the CFO to seek effective solutions under budget. Women often thrive in this team leader and educator role, which is a great opportunity for increased diversity in traditionally male-dominated upper management. 

Responsibilities of a CLO 

At first glance, it may seem like a top-level learning officer would mainly be responsible for learning management systems (LMS) and corresponding course evaluations. But, the position requires much more than just those duties. A CLO can direct the design and distribution of personality assessments to foster cohesive teams. The CLO will work with other departments and committees to come up with ways to engage employees. Employees can be engaged through: 

  • Mixers between departments that may not normally interact 
  • Community service in the local area 
  • Learning more about personal growth through workshops  
  • Health and wellness initiatives  
  • Frequent opportunities to give and receive feedback  
  • Demonstrating investment in each employee by providing training of relevant skills  

When truly made a priority, engaging employees with these examples of activities helps the team maintain a purposeful mindset in their career. Turnover (and therefore cost) decreases when employees see tangible efforts on behalf of the company to develop their teams.  

Benefits of a CLO 

When mergers and acquisitions occur, the CLO is the point of contact for maintaining a positive culture in the workplace. This can be especially difficult when the merger is across cultures. The CLO will generally begin the process by providing resources, such as global workforce development, for all employees as soon as the change is announced. This helps ease the potential tension that results from major changes across cultures. The CLO communicates the company's purpose and values to all employees, establishing an environment of understanding immediately.  

 Image of an employee preparing for Intercultural Training

When it comes to Intercultural Training, the CLO is responsible for recognizing the different ways that employees will learn. This can include using in-person coaching, online platforms, assessments, individual and group instruction. CLOs should be assisting in both global workforce development (the cultural training administered in the office to diverse teams) and intercultural services (custom cross-cultural training for relocating employees and their families). Training is also essential for business travelers and companies that do business internationally.  

Whether you are at a large corporate or a small start-up, exhibiting care for coworkers is the key to a positive and profitable business. Incorporating intercultural training into your company culture demonstrates a willingness to grow and achieve a harmonious workplace.  

Image of button do you need cultural training

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