Philip Berry, President
Philip Berry Associates LLC
About the Author
Philip Berry is involved with global management consulting, executive coaching and training specializing in leadership development, global talent development, global diversity, innovation, team building, and corporate social responsibility and employee relations effectiveness. Mr. Berry has extensive global experience, was previously Vice President, Global Workplace Initiatives for Colgate-Palmolive and also worked for Procter & Gamble, Digital Equipment Corporation and IBM.
The world is changing before our very eyes. Increasingly we see that the dynamics in the global marketplace are not the same now as they were 20 years ago. The rate of change is astronomical and 10 years from now, we will be in a completely different world.
The issue is whether organizations will watch change pass them by or will they get on board and ahead of the changes so they will be profitable in the near future. in a completely different world.
In the global economy, companies need to focus on recognizing and developing talent internationally if they want to succeed in today’s diverse marketplace and meet those challenges. in a completely different world.
So what are some of those megatrends that are impacting organizations?
For one the marketplace grows increasingly diverse each year. Communication and technology are causing connections across the globe to be more frequent and dynamic, As economies grow and income levels increase in many emerging markets, the desire for goods and services will increase. The appetites of consumers in every country for products outside of their country borders will continue to increase. Global immigration patterns are also changing the cultural framework of almost every country. It’s more than a matter of having McDonalds in Russia or Paris or Disney in China. Food, clothes and entertainment will be steadily influenced in every country around the world. Several years ago it was the influx of the West that initiated changes. We will steadily see the influence of the East creep into country habits in the same way. This will bring about a new fusion of thought and behavior in many sectors.
While the global economy seemingly makes the world a smaller and more homogenous place, consumers continue to have very different buying patterns from region to region. In addition, customer needs vary along generational lines as their lifestyles and expectations are very different today than they were in previous
As companies adapt to manufacture and market products and services in very different parts of the world, a major challenge is managing human capital to meet these changing needs. Organizations must have a talent management strategy in place that continually assesses whether employees have the ability to address the particular needs of a diverse customer base.
Companies must have a strategy of having people in place that can produce products and services to meet this new stream of thought and expectation. If companies are not providing goods and services which meet and delight the expectations of the new consumer, then they risk profitability and survival. New solutions must be found to present problems. New goods must be produced to meet new needs that will be prevalent.
You can’t meet these new challenges with yesterday’s thinking, programs, processes and competencies. Innovative thinking is required. Companies must renew their talent development efforts to incorporate the capability to meet these new challenges. To meet these challenges, companies must ensure that employees have new capabilities and competencies which must be increasingly cross-cultural in terms of communication and teamwork.
To accomplish this, companies must foster a corporate ethos that centers on developing the skills of promising individuals so that they, and the corporation, can adapt quickly to changes in the workplace, serve the needs of new consumers, develop new products and position themselves in new and different ways.
For a company to truly succeed in today’s global marketplace, it must develop a new way of looking at and developing its human capital. And if a company is to compete in an increasingly diverse marketplace, it must approach these new challenges with a different set of solutions.
A company with a strong tradition of promoting from within its domestic corporate headquarters might miss out on developing talent in subsidiaries or overseas offices. Instead, companies must look to different individuals within the organization who have different perspectives and different ways of performing.
Defining the CORPORATE BRAND Provides a Context for Global Leadership
Before a global talent management plan can be developed, a company must first define its corporate brand, instill a consistent set of values worldwide, and provide a context for global leadership.
A brand is not simply the product a company manufactures or the company name and logo; instead it is the identity, purpose and direction of an organization. It is the beliefs and behaviors that define what the organization is, and what it is not. A company’s brand is particularly important as it influences all of the corporate strategies, products and services strategies, the corporate culture, and the talent management strategy.
Once a company’s corporate identity and accompanying brand are established, the leadership must define its culture and values. These values will determine the character of the organization and will guide decision-making about the company’s future direction. Organizations that allow their culture and values to develop by happenstance may be destined for failure.
Google, Apple, IBM, Colgate Palmolive, General Electric, Procter & Gamble and Pepsico are all examples of great companies that have established values that position them for global leadership in their industries. These companies are well known for the discipline they provide in generating their leaders and their products.
Corporate leaders must proactively determine what types of values the company will have so that they can purposefully recruit, train, mentor and develop employees whose behavior is in line with the corporate culture and values.
To do this, organizations must answer the following questions:
What are the corporate values?
What behaviors count?
What is the true character of the company?
For example, a corporation may identify corporate social responsibility, trust, global teamwork, integrity and diversity as its core values. The behaviors that reflect these values then would be an integral part of their leadership training programs and a primary determinate of their recruiting processes.
Once an organization’s culture and values are defined in a way that supports its brand, leaders must act to ensure that everyone from senior management to those involved in the day-to-day operations understands and embraces them. This requires that management understand and integrate local values while supplementing them with the required competencies and behaviors so that individuals can be successful within the wider organization.
Creating a Talent Management Strategy
Once a corporation has determined its corporate brand, corporate values and behaviors it wants to promote, it must develop a talent management strategy. A good talent management strategy will recognize the skills an individual possesses at that particular moment and provide opportunities so that those skills may enhance both the company and the individual in the future.
For instance, consider a job candidate who is a woman fluent both in French and Arabic, with a marketing background and a work history as a chemist. Then consider the Middle East both as it is today, and how it may be tomorrow. It is probable that women will have a stronger role in the region in the future, and a company can prepare for that by hiring, coaching and training a strong woman who can lead an organization in the region: someone who, like our theoretical candidate, is multilingual and has the technical capabilities to see the whole business because of her joint marketing and R&D background. This kind of foresight and proactive hiring will ensure that a company maintains a global mindset years, and possibly even decades, into the future.
Identifying Future Leaders
The first step in a talent management plan is to identify the future leaders of the company. Today’s corporate leaders should not just look at the present generation for leaders. Identifying employees that exhibit leadership potential for the next two to three generations is crucial to sustaining the organization and making it successful.
It means that as soon as people come in the door, the company must look for leaders and high-potential people. It requires foresight in hiring for leadership and senior positions, not just the job in question. It means taking the approach of hiring people as leaders because they have the potential to direct and function at a high level.
Future leaders of an organization must possess the following five competencies in order to turn raw talent into global success:
1) functional excellence
2) global perspective
3) consumer focus
4) management skills and
5) communication skills.
These competencies must be evaluated when determining who in a global organization should be groomed for senior positions, including how these five competencies are integrated into their everyday work. Mastering these five competencies demonstrates that a company knows that it can’t just generate leadership with good technical skills and functional know how. They need to focus on those aspects of emotional intelligence as well. They need leaders who can inspire others and communicate across gender, age , ethnic and country distinctions. Future leaders must have a world view that appreciates the dynamics of global competition
Providing Diverse Global Experience
Once an organization identifies its potential leaders at hiring, it needs to give them the experience that will enable them to lead the company as it will be five, ten or twenty years in the future. An effective way of doing this is by moving people through different posts in different countries, putting them through common training experiences and providing coaching for them.
This may include lateral assignments to other parts of the world, so they can learn how others within the organization operate in different marketplaces. Then, the individual can be moved back to the original country with an expanded knowledge of how the company operates. As organizations move people of various backgrounds around the world, it’s crucial to ensure that the organization takes their varying perspectives into account in a way that is going to create a competitive advantage.
For instance, a global organization may start a young manager in an Eastern European posting, then move him to a more senior position in a smaller market in a totally different area, such as Latin America, then move him again to a more responsible position in a larger market in another region, and ultimately to a position in a major potential market, such as China.
The career path will provide fast track experience that gives this new leader a wealth of global knowledge. As an aside, this is particularly important with the millennial generation, because they are keen to get these experiences quickly, and if they cannot get them within the current organization, they will move to companies where they can.
If a company does not have the global reach to move people across every continent, it should still look for a way to make sure that promising individuals are placed in positions or assignments where they can get varied experience, even if it’s simply by working with other teams.
In addition to providing diverse experience, a global talent management strategy must also strive for balanced development. For instance, if an individual has experience working in a small subsidiary in a high-growth market, his or her next assignment should be in a large subsidiary or corporate headquarters in a developed market. Similarly, if an employee only has field experience, he or she should be placed in a short term global assignment.
Why is this expanded development important? It is because the world basically consists of developed countries from the standpoint of their economy and marketplace and of those countries that are emerging and seeking to transition their economies and marketplace to a different level. As companies expand to be more globally competitive, they must also build a cadre of leaders that can operate in multiple markets. This increases the flexibility of a company to address consumer needs anywhere around the world.
Providing Challenging Assignments
An essential element of a talent management strategy is to place employees in assignments that test the individual’s abilities. The company should place them in a stretch assignment, or a sequence of stretch assignments, and assess how they perform, react and learn from these positions. Feedback is a crucial element of any talent management plan and helps organizations determine how employees apply lessons learned, in addition to letting them know that the company both appreciates them and is planning for their future.
Career paths must be established for future leaders, and if the organization doesn’t have career paths in place, it should at least be thinking about them, and at a minimum for the “two-steps,” or where the person will be going next. Top talent should be promoted frequently to accelerate their learning, development and contribution and should be placed on a global career path.
A tool that large organizations can employ to test whether or not an individual can work internationally is to place them on part-time or short-term assignments. This should involve discussions about the assignment with the local human resources staff in the new location, because individual local HR people sometimes do not think globally. The individual’s assignment, however, needs to be viewed in a global context, and in terms of the experiences that this individual needs in order to move forward.
Succession Planning at All Levels
Another important consideration in a talent management strategy is succession planning, not just for the top few or even the top twenty positions, but rather for all levels within the organization and in every subsidiary. This helps to ensure that the company is developing talent on a global basis, rather than just moving Americans to different countries and offices.
For example, an organization may be looking for a financial executive experienced with hyperinflation, and so may plan to move a finance manager from Zimbabwe to Romania. After that experience, the company may round out the individual’s skill sets with postings in other countries, such as Turkey, Brazil or Russia. After five to seven years, this individual would then have the skills and experience to be promoted as a financial executive.
This kind of career planning, including diverse experience and challenging assignments, develops the needed leadership competency in individual employees and ultimately benefits the organization. In this way, an organization can develop talent with a wide range of expertise, span of control and depth of knowledge to be its future leaders.
Companies that devote senior management time and commit to a long-term strategy of developing high-performing talent in their organizations will reap the benefits of growth in the markets they serve from developed countries to emerging economies.