Salut Les Frenchies. English First, Please.

Long story short for the lazy ones: If you have even a little ambition to expand abroad or to hire international talents at some point, start introducing english-speaking habits within your organisation as early as you can throughout your company’s journey.

The by-default behaviour of any french entrepreneur is to let French be the de-facto way of work and communication within the organisation. One doesn’t reflect on this subject until expanding abroad or hiring international talents is on the table. And when time has come to embrace this shift from french to english first, well… It gets tricky…

It’s a violent shift to have people change the way they work (by definition habits are hard to kill or transform) and update what they have already done (like the tech/internal/external documentation). You really don’t want this cultural storm to slow down or damage your organisation. Therefore, include de-facto english speaking habits early on throughout your journey in order to have everyone emotionally & operationally ready to shift at anytime from local to international:

  • Provide your team with tools and courses to improve their level if they need to. You don’t want to have anyone behind just because they lacked 1 or 2 hours a week of training…

  • Ask team members to use english only on slack and/or email. We form habits by doing things in a consistent and disciplined way. Slack is a great start because it’s mostly internal communication, therefore you don’t mix up french and english communications.

  • Make your tech team work exclusively in english and localise all your in-house tools and reports (internal/external documentation, CRM, spreadsheets…) in english only.

  • Whenever there is an only-english-speaking person stepping in the office, speaking french must be forbidden.

It can appear to be very constraining for a young organisation. However, just like any other habit, it also helps you and your team members develop a stronger mindset and better execution skills.

Cheers :)