There are an estimated 1.3 million Polish taxpayers in the UK. No wonder that so many British companies are interested in this economic community – it is a huge business opportunity. Are you one of those trying (and failing?). Would you like to improve your chances of succeeding? Here come some potential answers.
It’s about trust
The reason why the Polish community is such an attractive target group in the first place is its main challenge. It’s the sheer numbers! Being such a large group, Polish people are becoming increasingly self-sufficient; going to Polski Skleps, choosing Polish hairdressers – even Polish doctors! Some say it is because of the language barrier while others say it is the price, because Polish service providers are still competitive in the UK market. Over and above that, there is an element of trust, too – many Polish people are convinced that only a Polish doctor will offer better treatment. For example, when considering successful Polish business people in London, then neither language nor price are the issue. It is the trust that they put in their fellow countrymen.
How to gain their trust? Here are some ideas:
Invest in Cultural Awareness training for your staff
Culture affects the way we do business. These are the crucial areas we talk about:
- gaining new clients
- relationship-building with existing partners and clients
- negotiating with your prospects
- ongoing relationships
But don’t forget about your existing workforce! Lack of cultural awareness in both recruitment and management may result in a less effective workforce with lower productivity.
‘ We know that two in five businesses in the UK say a lack of cultural understanding amongst their newest employees has created a barrier to growth.’
Cultural competence will help you to reach out to your market – knowing how to communicate, network and negotiate with people (not just Polish but those of any other culture) is a vital tool you need. You may have to adjust your style so as to gain people’s trust. You should also think about bridging the gaps between your staff – the sooner, the better.
Do you speak Polish?
As Willy Brandt, the former German Chancellor, rightly said,
‘If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen!’
It is more than just translation into Polish, you should think very carefully about your language strategy. To successfully engage with your Polish speaking audience, you should consider employing Polish native speakers, localising your website and social media.
Speak Global English
Also, consider using Globish when speaking English. Polish people who have everyday English, don’t necessarily have the English appropriate to the business context. Although some may have learnt business English, many may need to rely on Globish, the simplified form of English. Consider those simple techniques such as slowing your speech and avoiding idiomatic expressions will make your conversation partner feel more comfortable.
Cross-cultural competence is more than just a ‘nice skill’ to have. The lack of it will cost you money, because it impacts on the communication, negotiation and management styles of your multinational teams. You need it just as much as you need to engage with your business clients at the language level.
Follow the advice of Bob Spence, the Principal of ASBIRO and a very successful cross-cultural communicator:
‘ Reach out to the economy, don’t expect the economy to reach out to you!’