Contributors

The Seven Secrets of Successful Globalizers

Assign the best people to lead change initiatives. Remember, the obvious candidates aren’t always the most appropriate choices.

by Atul Vashistha

One idea that pervades each of the global secrets is the idea that globalization is not about a single action or even a group of actions. Globalization, when successful, is about an attitude.

Yet even when the CEO of a company embraces globalization as a new attitude, it will fail unless his partners—the people who work with and for him—embrace the attitude as well. But getting others on board is not a job the CEO can do by himself; he must recruit the best people to help.

That’s what the fifth secret is about: recruiting the best people to help roll out (and guide) the globalization initiatives throughout the company. With the best people at the helm, globalization initiatives can find strong support at all levels of the organization.

But how are the “best” people defined? The people who will do best at guiding an organization’s globalization initiative have several common characteristics. All too often, companies simply use the most easily accessible people to guide globalization, even when they are not right for the job. In many of those cases, the initiatives fail.

A common example is the company that decides to outsource its IT processes offshore and assigns the IT managers to lead the initiative. Those IT managers are extremely well-versed in IT processes and have a lot of knowledge about IT systems but may be reserved, introverted types. Such managers shy away from high-profile leadership roles and generally dislike change. The organization thinks that despite their shortcomings, these managers can guide the globalization of the IT processes because they know IT; but the initiative fails.

Why? While the IT managers played an important role in the organization’s IT department, they were not the best at leading a globalization initiative. They lacked important “global people” characteristics. The “global people” stars are resilient, embrace change, have a global mindset and an affinity for different cultures, are performance-oriented, take initiative, are admired by others within the company, and serve as consensus builders.

Take another example of an organization that assigns a number of leaders from different departments. These people have a record of embracing—even spearheading—change within the organization. They seek out high-profile roles and enjoy leading others; they’re admired and have proven their ability to build consensus among employees. Despite the fact that most of these people know little about the day-to-day details of the organization’s IT processes, the organization assigns them to head the initiative. The initiative succeeds.

Why? The organization assigned as leaders those who had demonstrated an ability to be good leaders. When they needed to understand the details of IT processes, they sought out the IT managers. The people who were assigned to lead the globalization initiative possessed many of the “global people” characteristics.

THE HR PERSPECTIVE ON ASSIGNING THE BEST PEOPLE
From an HR perspective, assigning the best people to head up globalization initiatives involves four activities:

  • Recruiting. While it’s better to assign the best people from within, recruiting externally may lead to top-talent people who will be able to jump into the organization and quickly build consensus and lead others. Recruiting may also lead to employees who share the same globalization-friendly corporate culture mindset.
  • Performance management. Even for the best people, and especially for others, managing performance—ensuring that set goals are met and new goals are set—is an important part of keeping the organization moving towards globalization.
  • Development. Many companies facing a shortage in qualified IT leaders, for example, choose not to find the best people within the organization but instead choose to develop the “best” people characteristics of IT managers who also possessed the technical knowledge necessary to successfully globalize the IT processes.
  • Rewards. Incentivizing behavior, even for highly self-motivated people, can be a quick way to success.

As football great Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” The fifth secret of successful globalizers is about generating that individual commitment to the group effort by assigning the best people.

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