Friday, September 7, 2007

Strategic opportunity for HR professionals

It is almost impossible for employees to cultivate a global mindset - or for the organization’s leaders to acquire global skills - unless the culture of the organization itself is imbued with global effectiveness thinking, skills and behaviors.

At a time when business process outsourcing should be liberating us to focus on strategic rather than tactical issues, it is good to remind ourselves that developing organizational global effectiveness may be one of the most important contributions that HR professionals can make, if we are to have, or retain, a “seat at the table” in shaping corporate strategy.

Organizations devoid of a global way of thinking will not fare well in the international arena. Because human capital is the defining competitive differentiator of most organizations, HR's commitment to the task of attracting, retaining and managing the best talent available is its major strategic challenge. Read more...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The "war for talent" and Global Mindset

Will individuals who have developed global understanding and cultural competencies thrive in an organization that does not possess a "global mindset"? Will they stay with that organization? Will they help their organization win the "war for talent" or will they move on to greener pastures?

To achieve sustainable results, effective cross-cultural training should include on-going coaching

Acquiring the competencies to be an effective cross-cultural business communicator is a “process”, not an “event”. We become internationalists by learning from our mistakes, by learning to be more accepting and flexible by acquiring a profound respect for the differences that separate us. Cross-cultural management coaching, delivered periodically by phone and e-mail, one-on-one, during the first months of the assignment, is the factor that will help ensure enduring success. On-going coaching from an experienced, knowledgeable and caring professional will help ensure that the cultural understanding, acquired in the class-room training, will become a transformational reality in the daily work life of the person being coached. Having the opportunity to serve as a coach to clients engaged in cross-border business, is an extremely rewarding aspect of my new life as a coach/consultant. It helps transform the training "event" into a life-changing "process".

If you agree that human capital is vital to organizational success and you are committed to developing a global mindset in your workforce, I would like to suggest you consider providing cross-cultural training which would incorporate some of the ideas that I've mentioned.


  • Define measurable learning goals

  • Incorporate specific modules to teach the emotional skills needed for cross-cultural effectiveness

  • Seek behavioral modification, if necessary (it usually is!)

  • Envisage cross-cultural training as a process rather than an isolated event

  • Identify and assess candidates who would benefit from executive coaching

Read more....

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cultural adaptation is a process

Do we honestly think that a one or, at most, two day cultural training course is going to produce the behavioral changes that are necessary for genuine cross-cultural adaptation? Those going abroad will benefit from pre-departure training which will give them an overview of the new culture and help prepare them to deal with the challenging reality of “culture shock”. (“Culture shock”, by the way is something of a misnomer – a "shock", to my way of thinking, suggests an event which happens in a very reduced time-frame from which we recover quickly. What we mean by "culture shock" is a minor state of depression that can last up to 10 weeks, post arrival at the new location, and is prone to re-occurrence).

Post-arrival cultural training, when the brief “honeymoon” period is wearing down, is very necessary. To be truly relevant and useful, this cross-cultural training must deal with the aspects of emotional adjustment which are especially vital for the adaptation of the accompanying spouse. It is important to ensure that measurable outcomes are incorporated into the training curriculum and that the sojourners are given practical advice on setting up their “emotional” networks. I suggest that “emotional management” (in the “scientific” acceptance of the terms) is emerging as a major key to success in the global marketplace. Interestingly, we do not learn emotional intelligence from CD-ROMs or from books. We learn it from our mothers, from our teachers, coaches and (if we are very lucky) bosses. Cultural adjustment is more of a "process" than an "event". So, I think it is more cost efficient to offer pre-departure cultural training to candidates for expatriation and cross-cultural coaching once they have settled in at their new location. Read more...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Beyond cultural briefings

Cultural briefings, consisting mostly of information “dumps” and pointers on etiquette, can be helpful for leisure travel but they are certainly not sufficient for cross-cultural business effectiveness. Having been privileged to live and work in six different countries, I am a firm believer that it is not enough to learn “facts” about other countries and cultures. We need to understand the “deeper” underlying culture.

Despite this, much of what goes by the name of cross-cultural training today is designed to provide cultural “information” to individuals who may be working with people from different cultures. In addition to the standard, factual information dump, training often includes a description of contrasting cultural “dimensions” (for instance: the US is described as an “individualistic” culture, where the individual reigns supreme vs. Mexico or Japan which are “group oriented” cultures). This can be a helpful and necessary way to acquire a cognitive understanding of the “other” culture but it can also lead to inaccurate and misleading stereotypes which do not help foster cultural acceptance.

Another important element is often overlooked in cultural training. Our ability to manage across cultures requires a substantial use of what we call “emotional intelligence”. We now have strong, empirical data which allows us to measure, describe and train emotional intelligence in ways that are meaningful for cross-cultural adaptation. Hence, in an economy as global as the one we live and work in, where we are constantly bombarded with factual and technical information, it is time to reevaluate how we prepare ourselves and our teams for vital cross-cultural business interaction. Read more...