The Globalization Quiz!

During a recent workshop with a group of Human Resources Executives of a Fortune 100 Global Company, we asked the 15 participants the following questions:


                             Question                                             Respondents

  1. How many of you were born outside the US?                0
  2. How many of you have had 10 years as an Expat?      0
  3. How many of you have had 5 years as an Expat?        0
  4. How many of you have had 1to2 years as an Expat?  2                
  5. How many of you are fluent in a second language?   3
  6. How many of you spend at least 60 days Int’l travel 5
  7. How many of you like Italian food?                                     13


Although the quiz can be construed as tongue in cheek humiliation, it is also a proof point.  As a general rule the HR leadership of US centric “global companies” for the most part is rather parochial we would submit even if they travel extensively outside the US.


In our research for the book Talent Readiness-The Future Is Now! we conducted a survey of 150 CEO’s on their aspirational expectations of the Human Capital function. 

Among the top 10 responses was “assist leadership in becoming a truly global enterprise”.  31 of the CEO’s were headquartered outside the US.


We are not sure that there is sufficient time for every senior HRM to master the advanced levels of a Rosetta Stone course, or persuade the 2 outliers of the benefits of mozzarella….yet there is a need for the domain to respond to this deficiency in orientation, outlook, in order to satisfy CEO expectations. 


There are 5 practices that are emerging that may be useful.


1)   90 Day Wonders-It is somewhat of a military model whereby Officer Candidate School is this duration.  Our recommendation is that the most senior HR managers be required to spend at least 90 days on business travel.

2)   Knowledge Transfer-Use of Executive Coaches whom have lived and worked in the regions who can advise executives on mores and approaches for assimilation

3)   Rotation-Reverse the model of sending Americans overseas in favor of having high potential targets coming to the US for semi-permanent placement as part of a longer term HR Succession Plan.  





4)   Non Exclusionary Development-Look for opportunities for HRM’s from outside the US to participate in company sponsored events/training in the US even accompanying their cognizant manager vs. relying on them to have knowledge be communicated

5)   Change the Hiring Profile for US HRM’s-Embed into the desired qualifications.  Basically change the game!


For a Global HR entity to set as a goal “in five years 50% of our staff to come from outside the US or have an international orientation through their family or education” is ambitious.  Yet compare that to the revenue stream that is expected to be derived from non US operations.  This compare and contrast exercise has its merits.


Our research would indicate that the CEO’s do not expect their US centric HR mangers, or we hasten to point out would those CEO’s who were from outside the US, “become global by exporting practices and processes”.


One Canadian CEO stated it well “To be Global HR need to Be Global”.


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