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Working as a Dual Language Manager:
Top Tips for Success

See also: Intercultural Communication Skills

There are plenty of roles in which bilingual individuals can use their linguistic talents to further their interests and careers.

As a dual language manager, my role involves managing both the English-speaking and the French-speaking elements of the marketing work undertaken by Tomedes, a translation agency/localization company that delivers translations in more than 90 languages. It can be hard work at times but is ultimately a satisfying way to make best use of both my marketing skills and my linguistic abilities.

Language Skills

The first and foremost requirement of the management work that I undertake is the ability to communicate perfectly in both English and French. Many of my team members speak only one of these languages and often as their second language (or in some cases, their third). As such, my language skills have to be absolutely top notch in order to avoid any miscommunications and misunderstandings.

Managing Multilingual Teams

Of course, managing multilingual teams and teams in remote locations is about far more than just language skills. There is a whole raft of cultural considerations to take into account. Managing this dual culture is a fascinating experience. Staff in different countries can have very different expectations about everything from punctuality to email etiquette.

Within my particular role, I handle the UK/US side of the business, which incorporates a strong element of globalization, and the French side, which, by contrast, has a focus on localization. Ultimately, it is the management skills that are the key here. Ensuring that team members feel respected and listened to, while clearly understanding their role and why that role is important to the business, is a necessary skill which transcends language barriers.

With operational staff working for Tomedes from various locations around the world, I’ve found that the right communication tools are an important part of ensuring that the management element of my work runs smoothly. I use a range of messaging apps and video calling programs in order to keep in touch with my team and to ensure that I am accessible to them whenever they need me.

Building up trusting relationships is an important skill for a manager, and doubly so when you work with individuals from different countries and cultures around the world. Cultural gaps can sometimes be wide indeed and it takes a positive attitude and a flexible approach in order to bridge those gaps. With the right management techniques, though, it is possible to build up a trusting, respective culture in which colleagues feel heard, no matter where they may be based. 

SEO and digital marketing

As Head of Marketing, my role also requires excellent SEO and digital marketing abilities. It’s one of the perks of being a dual language manager – I get to undertake SEO tasks that I really enjoy (such as undertaking keyword research and using relevant local platforms) in not one but two languages. It means twice the amount of enjoyment and the ability to ensure that I use my marketing skills to the max.

By working across two languages’ marketing cultures, I’ve been able to build up a deep knowledge of how different countries like to approach their marketing – what works and, just as importantly, what doesn’t work when it comes to engaging customers through digital marketing activities.

I use the results of these activities to feed in to multilingual market research and help to adapt our service offerings for Tomedes’ different customers (and potential customers) around the globe.

Recruitment

Working in two languages also has its advantages when it comes to hiring staff. If Tomedes needs a new member of the marketing team, I effectively have double the number of candidates available to me as I would if I were monolingual. This means that I’m well positioned to find the best person for the job, whether it’s a fulltime member of the SEO team or a freelancer being hired to undertake a certain task or project in conjunction with the development team.

There are around 1.121 billion English speakers in the world, when you include those who speak it as a second language. Add to those the 284.9 million French speakers and it’s easy to see why Tomedes has such a vast talent pool available!


Supporting Translators and Content Writers

As well as my marketing and management duties, there are a number of ways that I can use my language skills to support other members of the Tomedes team. One of these is by helping translation staff with localization work. While I leave the actual French translation and English translation to our highly qualified professionals, I am on hand to help with any localization that needs to be carried out.

Localization is the process of adapting copy to meet the cultural requirements of a particular audience. This might mean tweaking the text to avoid offending local religious sensibilities, for example. It goes a step further than pure translation by considering how the content will come across to those who read it in the target language and ensuring that it doesn’t offend or amuse them (unless it is intended to!).

I am able to provide the same kind of support to our content creation team. We produce regular articles for the Tomedes blog, which is a popular resource with thousands of translation professionals, and the Tomedes business centre, which is used by corporate customers looking to understand more about translation and how it can support their business aims. Again, localization support can come in very handy in this area. We often create the content in English first, then translate it into other languages, as the Tomedes website is available in 16 languages altogether. This process often requires localization to be undertaken in order to make each article suitable to our readership around the globe and it’s fantastic to be able to use my language skills and cultural knowledge in order to do this.

Top tips for success

If you speak two (or more) languages and want to put your linguistic skills to good use, think creatively about the kind of roles that you are interested in. You are far from limited to working in a role based solely on your language skills. Companies with an international presence or that ship products around the world are always on the lookout for bilingual staff, with roles as varied as customer service operatives, finance positions and marketing specialists all able to benefit from dual language employees. As such, whatever your particular area of interest, start with that and then see how you can use your language skills to give you the edge over other candidates.

My other tip for success is to take account of cultural considerations in all that you do. Only by respecting the different cultures of all of your staff can you operate a truly harmonious team. This can range from changing the way you speak to individual staff to celebrating local holidays, whether religious or secular. Encourage your team members to do the same too, learning about each other’s cultures and expectations. Doing so helps to build up a strong, united team, even when your staff members are geographically and culturally diverse.

Finally, it’s essential to be flexible and to be able to laugh together. Use your management skills and your language skills together to foster an atmosphere of good-humoured trust and respect and your efforts will soon pay dividends.


About the Author


William Mamane is Head of Digital Marketing at Tomedes, a translation company that engages highly skilled individuals in order to deliver professional translation and localization services to a global audience.

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