US companies’ local focus will hinder them

In
the US today, with unemployment still quite low, recruitment issues are at the
fore. In my local market, the Washington Post recently reported a 1.1 per cent
unemployment rate. The War for Talent is no longer simply the title of a
McKinsey study, but is a fact of life. And I am not competing against dotcoms
giving away BMW Z-3s any more, I am competing for people whose business models
did make sense – the survivors who are now in the hunt for real growth.

This
is forcing many companies to re-examine their succession planning efforts; to
make sure they are closely considering all candidates, not just those who
happen to make their home in the headquarters’ country.

As
the pool of employable people drops with the imminent demographic trends,
companies that fail to look beyond their borders at their offshore locations,
and local national talent, will endanger their own growth. Of course there are
some major multinational entities which are doing this effectively, but their
numbers are small, and only growing slowly.

Executives
exist outside HQ

I
was chatting with an HR colleague at a Nasdaq-listed high-tech firm the other
day, discussing succession planning and the visibility of non-headquarters
people. His company, with thousands of employees scattered across the world, is
only now starting to review senior in-country managers for possible postings to
the US and other countries. The sudden change of heart? A lack of executives
with international scope.

Global
HR management has become so much more than managing the myriad payments to an
expat in Rio de Janeiro. I find that working on the issues with our local
nationals in Rio actually takes more time – and is really a greater priority
for the business.

With
today’s growing requirements in emerging markets, the practice of staffing the
world with a cadre of well-paid, but solid, expat managers is fading fast. The
“new” expat model includes completion bonuses dependent on identification,
training and appointment of a local employee. But why has it taken us so long
to get here?

Companies
which view their HQ as the only source of future executives are going to have a
tough time. Globalisation may be the subject of protests in Seattle and Geneva,
but for HR professionals, it means we must move our business’ people solutions
outside our comfort zone.

Our
views of recruitment and succession planning must include a rigorous view of
in-country managers, located outside the HQ’s country. This will cover
selection, assessment, development and planning. If you are not currently
developing and tracking your senior local national managers, let me know. I’m
sure I have a country manager opening they might be interested in.

By
Lance Richards, Director, global HR, for Teleglobe
Lance Richards sits on the board of directors for SHRM Global Forum – the
world’s largest international HR association

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