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international panel @ Human Resources Technology conference

Wednesday 21 October, 2009

I attended this panel discussion Going Global Panel: Lessons From Executives Who’ve Been There at the Human Resources Technology Conference which was more interesting than I thought it would be.  Here are some of the points they brought out:

  • Interpretation of HR feedback varies across countries.
  • There is a variation of extremes in orientation from a focus that is all local to all headquarters oriented, but it’s even more complex than that.  Google tests user feedback on all sorts of orientations.
  • Language is an issue because going beyond English only opens a multilingual can of worms.  For Kelly Services, it depends on the level of the employee & media employed. HP goes even further to say it varies by individual.  Their engineers speak better English than employees @ Citigroup (where she was employed prior to HP).  Regardless, Americans should do a better job of learning local languages.
  • Global performance measures are hard to come by.  For Google, in-country performance measures vary.  It’s difficult for foreign managers to know whether to be critical or praiseworthy.  Different leadership styles complicate evaluation, but are predictable on a country-by-country basis.  HP seeks quantifiable goals, while Google warns that focusing on either extreme of qualitative vs. quantitative measures is destined for failure.  You really need some combination of both.
  • In working with vendors, Google builds everything themselves, so they “can’t eat others’ cooking,” but notes that what business wants isn’t always what business needs.
  • HP is cutting costs by making all HR employees report to 1 global HR department & not individual business units to that they can leverage the function.  Global processes are leveraged by technology.  Others have 1 global center for HR plus local organizations or 1/2 & 1/2 split between HR & business units.
  • Kelly Services agreed that American workforce development for the global economy is woefully inadequate.  It’s a huge issue & affects how we are perceived around the world.  We don’t socialize & educate to be globally-oriented.  However this is changing with younger, more digitally engaged generations.  Google noted they seek international things out.  Google seeks this kind of experience in their leadership teams.  They embrace those who know cultures & languages with recognition of the importance of relationships & respect.
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