Business is changing faster than ever before – at such a pace and on a global scale that many companies struggle on how to respond. A major concern for most organizations is their workforce and how they manage this pace and scale of change and the complexities that it brings. We are moving into a time where many organizations will have five generations working side-by-side. The needs, desires and motivations of these generations vary and this creates many challenges whether you are in Boston, Berlin or Brazil. What hasn’t changed is that employees are the foundation to sustaining performance and growth, and it’s imperative that organizations guard, nurture and invest in their people.
Keep them Engaged
Deloitte’s research shows that 44% of Millennials say, if given the choice, they would likely leave their current employers in the next two years. Their reasons include a lack of leadership-skill development, their voice not being heard and appreciated, work/life balance, desire for flexibility, and having a conflict of values. This lack of engagement and turnover can be daunting for many organization to support and address.
A good place to start is for organizations to improve how they identify and invest in high potentials and future leaders; to be consistent, clear and clarify and demonstrate their purpose, mission and brand in their local, national and global markets. Besides the high potentials and future leaders, organizations must invest in their middle and senior leaders on how to manage multiple geographies, cultures, and leadership styles, while balancing their firm’s strategic and business objectives.
Create Cross-Cultural Competency and Capability
A key element in being effective internationally is understanding and appreciating the cultural norms, traditions and ways on how people communicate, influence, build relationships and make decisions. Additionally, how well do your leaders understand their style, strengths and behaviors? Do they understand what behavioral attributes they need to adjust and why? What are the key behaviors enabling effective work in cross-cultural situations? We use a behavioral assessment, the Predictive Index® (PI®) to help leaders and leadership teams around the world be more effective individually and collectively. The following model outlines different aspects of the culture impacting the workplace. By understanding themselves, others, this model and adjusting styles, leaders can greatly increase their chance of success.
Different Cultural Values
Our Top 6 to Develop Global Leaders
- Expand and have a presence in a local market. Hire local leadership, immerse them in your corporate culture, support them from HQ and on-board them to understand your firm’s strategies, products, services, and decision making. Make sure they build alliances and have key stakeholder relationships.
- Create cross cultural exposure and understanding. Provide long and short-term international assignments in which future leaders will be immersed in another culture. This experience is one of the most critical aspects of gaining the humility and multiple perspectives necessary to mold the mindset of a global leader.
- Educate leaders and set the expectation for a global mindset. International immersion programs should begin early in the careers of next-generation global leaders. Many prominent organizations have created intricate global immersion programs for high-potential young leaders to experience working and living in unfamiliar settings.
- Prepare and Support. Sending people of any stage of their career overseas without proper training and development is a waste of time and money and will likely result in early termination or the employee leaving the company. Help international assignees develop realistic expectations of the host country and the challenges they will face. Additionally, the receiving manager and team must be prepared to help clarify any cultural differences.
- Keep Communication Open. Communicate frequently with international assignees. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a dangerous situation for those on international assignments. If the organization fails to communicate with its assignees and doesn’t prepare for proper succession planning, there is a good chance it will lose them—either after they return home or while they’re still on their international assignment. Remember to be aware of not only their professional but personal challenges. Many times international assignees leave assignments early due to an unhappy family situation or one that has not assimilated successfully. These situations can usually be avoided with some upfront and proactive support.
- Repatriation with a plan: Returning home and from an international assignment requires support for the entire family as well as for the individual returning to their home office. Often the change associated with returning home is dismissed or not given much attention. However, this is short sighted as frequently those repatriating find that home is no longer what it was and that their time abroad has changed them in more ways than what they realize. Provide resources for people to anticipate this and how to navigate this new reality.
Being a global leader today is complex and requires a greater breadth of skills. They need global business knowledge, a deep understanding of the world economy, and cross-cultural capability. Global leaders need to be nimble, open-minded, accepting, and curious. They need to continuously learn their respective markets and people, while driving business results.
About the Authors: Chuck Mollor and Michèle Barnett Berg
About MCG Partners
MCG Partners a woman-owned, Greater Boston-based consultancy specializing in executive coaching, leadership development, talent management, and organizational development solutions. We help businesses optimize success through the entire management life-cycle. MCG Partners is also a Predictive Index® (PI®) certified partner.
To learn more about MCG Partners’ services or The Predictive Index®, contact John Griffith at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit mcgpartners.com.