5 Must-Have Skills for “Going Global”

I recently attended a renowned industry leader’s presentation where she described helping an entrepreneur launch his international start-up in India. She delivered a compelling talk about opportunities, challenges and lessons learned. What resonated for me during her talk was that the entrepreneur was adamant to only hire the BEST people into his new business. The first employee he recruited was an HR professional. I was the only HR person in the room and was (internally) grinning from ear to ear. This was another reminder that the common denominator for business and, in particular, when “going global” is PEOPLE.

As interest accelerates within small and mid-sized companies to expand globally, the need to dramatically increase global competencies is significant. Business, Finance and HR leaders must master a number of skills to become effective including:

  1. International management expertise and experience in areas such as:
    • Business structures
    • Competition
    • Political and economic environments
    • Finance and business issues such as contracts, taxation, intellectual property, and risk
    • Employment and leadership
    • Cultural norms, values and differences
    • Technology
  2. Global mindset combines an openness to and awareness of diversity across cultures and markets with a propensity and ability to see patterns across countries and markets. This mindset also includes the ability to deal with ambiguity and walk into unfamiliar business territory.
  3. Develop cultural intelligence (CQ) – CQ is the capability to function effectively across national, ethnic and organizational cultures. While the basics of global mindset mentioned above will get you in the door, enhancing your cultural intelligence (CQ) will keep you there. What works in one culture often times simply does not work in other cultures. Developing this skill is a must-have for successfully “going global”.
  4. Understand international labor differences – Employers handling employee labor issues overseas need to be careful to understand the variety of laws in the countries and localities where they operate. Common areas of differences are in employment contracts, overtime laws, data privacy, leave time, unions, noncompetitive agreements, and termination policies. All can be very different overseas and each country’s laws have their own issues.
  5. Effective handling of remote, dispersed talent and teams
    • Ensure remote workers are comfortable within your company – If possible, facilitate in-person or onsite visits to locations or with key employees.
    • Utilize technology to make collaboration easier – e.g., video conferencing, Skype, Yammer, cloud-based or web-based (always accessible) management tools.
    • Foster company culture – deliberate efforts to keep relationships and information flowing and accessible.

Back in the day, business owners who wanted to expand business operations may have added a location outside their own neighborhood into the next community. Times have changed. The world and the global market are wide open for those willing to go for it.


Recruiters Hate When Employers Take Care of Their Employees

custom_classifieds_12091All of us who are searching for great talent can feel the recruiting landscape becoming more difficult. Case in point, we recently started a search to fill a hard-to-find technical management position. We eagerly launched our campaign after developing a strategic recruitment plan where we engaged headhunters, large and boutique recruiting firms, tapped into our LinkedIn, social and personal networks, and posted on all the right sites.

In preparation for a slew of great candidates, we mobilized the interview troops and were ready to find our next game changer. On the Monday morning after our launch, we checked our applicant tracking system and Inboxes. What an underwhelming response! Ok, this was not going to be easy. We persevered and continued the search.

Finally, an outside agency came through and sent us the resume of the perfect candidate. (I’ll call her Jane.) Jane fit our profile exactly! We quickly set a phone call with her.

An hour before our scheduled call, the agency called. Jane had pulled herself from consideration. Of course I asked why. The headhunter explained Jane decided to stay with her current employer because the CEO and CFO approached her to let her know how much they personally appreciated her work and contributions. Then they sealed the deal with a meaningful clarification of her role, a promotion and a bump in her salary.

We had a little stretch left in our offer budget so I asked the obvious question, “What if we matched or exceeded her increase?” The agency rep confirmed what I already knew. It was too late. She already asked Jane the question and Jane informed her that she was going to stay. After all, the two most influential senior leaders acknowledged her contributions and gave Jane the recognition she needed. They went even further with designing meaningful work, promoting her and raising her salary to a satisfactory level.

I said to our rep, “I hate it when employers take care of their employees!”

Managers, HR and Leaders: We’re reminded again and again, if employers take care of the things that matter most to employees – good employees stay. Jane was ready to leave her employer. The employer intervened with the appropriate measures before it was too late.

Why employees leave are illustrated by Leigh Branham, author of “The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave”. In addition to the hidden reasons, Branham describes a number of “push” and “pull” factors that are the root causes why an employee leaves. “Push” factors are related to an issue originating within the workplace while “Pull” factors are related to an external attraction. Employers take notice. The top 20 reasons listed are “Push” factors which means they are related to something that is happening inside the workplace. Factors the employer has control over.

In Jane’s case, we extrapolated that her CEO and CFO addressed 14 out of the top 20 reasons that were “pushing” her to look somewhere else. They included: #1) Lack of trust in senior leadership #2) Insufficient pay #4) Company’s lack of concern for development #6) Unfair treatment #7) Lack of open communication #8) Lack of encouragement of input or ideas #11) Lack of opportunity for training and development #12) Lack of recognition #13) Lack of clear expectations #14) Uninteresting or unchallenging work #15) Pay not based on performance #18) Lack of encouragement of input or ideas #19) Unfair pay practices and #20) Uncertainty about job.

Our search goes on.

People are People Everywhere

Soweto, South AfricaWork takes me to many amazing and exotic destinations. The people and experiences I encounter are incredible. During this last visit to South Africa, we made sure on the weekend we saw some sites besides the inside of our office walls. We decided to visit the Apartheid Museum and the Nelson Mandela Family Home in the township of Soweto. I had a preconceived notion that visiting Madiba’s home would inspire me to write about “leadership”. Afterall, HR espouses about leadership all the time and Nelson Mandela was one of the most influential leaders our lifetime. Right? That notion quickly changed after spending the day with our tour driver, Davis.

One Saturday morning, we hired a car from the hotel to take us into the township of Soweto. For those who are too young or possibly don’t remember, Soweto is a township outside of Johannesburg where in the 1980s-90s was a place known for incredible violence, poverty and strife. Davis talked about the past when residents of neighboring townships would not dare to cross town lines for fear of being attacked or killed.

During tour through Soweto, Davis vividly described historical facts and stories about the people and sites we saw. He proudly described Nelson Mandela and how under his leadership and through his actions, people from different townships can now freely interact and connect with each other.

All of a sudden, right out of the blue, Davis pulled over to the side of the road and started speaking in Zulu or Xhosa to a female resident. Near the woman was a little girl smiling and sheepishly waving at us. Then without warning, the barefoot 5-year old, smiling and nodding, climbed into the front seat of our car. We asked Davis if he knew this family. He said ‘No, not really.” What?!  My colleague and I looked at each other in astonishment, thinking the same thoughts. What’s happening right now? Are we abducting a child?

With the little girl in the front seat, peeking and smiling at us, we drove about 20 yards and stopped at a small corner bungalow that sold food. We all got out and Davis bought the girl two bags of chips.He then brought a loaf of bread and a liter of soda.  By that time, the little girl’s mother had walked down to join us. Davis exchanged a few words with her and handed her the bread and soda. The little girl and her mom walked back to their home and we drove off to see the sites

Yes, I know, this event could have several explanations behind it. What I took away from this encounter dawned on me after what Davis told us the at the end of our 6-hour day.  He said he was so happy when he could take outsiders into Soweto. Davis said to us that he wants “outsiders” to see and experience that Soweto was not the unsafe or dangerous area that many believe.  He changed my perception and, I believe, he had this planned the whole time.

Connecting 17 Million HR Pros Around the World

global_network_300_wht_4738Hello World! It’s nice to meet you. My name is Connie Wedel and I am excited because this is my first blog entry.

After being in HR for a couple decades and meeting amazing people around the world, I thought it’s a great time for a few of us 17 million HR pros on the globe to connect with each other and share how people and HR are the same (and different) around the world. I thought there a great way to do this is with a blog platform to share stories.

I’ve been really fortunate to practice HR in six continents and meet talented HR folks from many places. So, my blog is HRwithoutBorders.com. Yeah, I sort of borrowed the idea from Doctors without Borders. I thought the concept fit perfectly with where I am in my career and what makes me tick. My hope is that HR without Borders will be a space to share and exchange our HR stories, knowledge, ideas, discussions, and challenges — all with a global flavor.

My journey has been an absolute gift…a two-decade career working across borders. Who could ask for more? I’ve been afforded the opportunity to travel the globe and work with smart, talented people from all over the world. I have also met amazingly gifted HR practitioners who are progressing the HR profession and learning from each other every day.

I wanted to share stories, ideas, challenges and opportunities with  you so I (finally) started this blog.  My vision is that learn from each other.  I pass on some of my own ideas, along with your great ideas, and some curated content of experts in the field.  Please feel free to send me your thoughts and ideas along the way. Thank you for letting me take a few minutes out of your busy day.