Developing Talent to Succeed Globally Kavi Chawla, Principal, Bâton Global

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We are in the middle of a client engagement focused on strategic staffing and talent development, so I have been focused on talent development these last couple of weeks. When selecting talent, one of the fundamental questions is whether one hires homegrown talent, or looks to import talent from elsewhere. As both academic and professional research indicate, homegrown talent tends to be more cost effective and productive.

 

While homegrown talent has its advantages, one of the key problems many organizations face in utilizing homegrown talent, especially in industries that operate globally, is that local talent does not always have the experience and competency to operate, compete, and succeed globally. The knee-jerk strategy is for organizations to look externally to recruit globally competent talent into the region and their organization, rather than looking to develop that talent internally. Given global macroeconomic conditions, organizations are finding it increasingly cost prohibitive to import globally competent talent into their region and organizations.

 

Many organizations and governments have come to recognize that the only long-term solution to ensuring a globally competent workforce is to invest in the development of their existing, local talent. In thinking about the development of globally competent talent, it is important for organizations to orient the talent development discussion within a decision making framework.

 

 

Developing Talent to Succeed Globally

 

We are in the middle of a client engagement focused on strategic staffing and talent development, so I have been focused on talent development these last couple of weeks. When selecting talent, one of the fundamental questions is whether one hires homegrown talent, or looks to import talent from elsewhere. As both academic and professional research indicate, homegrown talent tends to be more cost effective and productive.

 

While homegrown talent has its advantages, one of the key problems many organizations face in utilizing homegrown talent, especially in industries that operate globally, is that local talent does not always have the experience and competency to operate, compete, and succeed globally. The knee-jerk strategy is for organizations to look externally to recruit globally competent talent into the region and their organization, rather than looking to develop that talent internally. Given global macroeconomic conditions, organizations are finding it increasingly cost prohibitive to import globally competent talent into their region and organizations.

 

Many organizations and governments have come to recognize that the only long-term solution to ensuring a globally competent workforce is to invest in the development of their existing, local talent. In thinking about the development of globally competent talent, it is important for organizations to orient the talent development discussion within a decision making framework.

 

PROACTIVE

 

 

 

 

 

 

OPERATIONAL                                                                                              STRATEGIC   

 

 

 

 

                                                                        REACTIVE

 

As presented in the framework above, global competence exists along two intersecting continuum, the horizontal continuum spanning from operational to strategic decisions, and the vertical continuum from reactive to proactive decisions. One of the primary shortcomings in current global competency talent development practices is the tendency to develop and target programming for the upper right quadrant, strategic and proactive. While a necessary and critical quadrant that requires focus, the de facto tendency to focus solely on this quadrant is problematic for a three key reasons:

 

  1. It ignores how organizations interact in a global world: One of the key drawbacks of a strategic+proactive dominated global competency talent development strategy is the fact that it is, by and large, ill-suited to the way most organizations operate, and how they interact in the global economy. When it comes to the global economy and the global marketplace, most organizations are forced to be reactive. That is, there ability to directly or indirectly influence global events and the global marketplace is minimal. The decline in global commodity prices over the 12 to 18 months is a case in point, where businesses have had to respond and react to global changes over which they have no control.

 

  1. It has limited applicability to roles across the organization: The majority of roles in any organization tend to be more operational in nature, and the talent development programming around global competence needs to adapt. When it comes to developing globally competent talent, the talent development programming needs to deliberately focus on operational decision making, and seek to integrate the complexity of global systems thinking into the operational decision making framework. While being strategic and proactive is necessary, when the world changes as rapidly as it is today, reactive and operational globally competent talent is equally as valuable.

 

  1. It creates a programming – audience misalignment: very few positions within any organization, large or small, are tasked with truly strategic activities, and even fewer are provided the operating freedom to be proactive. In addition, these select few positions (strategic and proactive) tend to be very senior within an organization, so the programming tends to focus on very specific issues. This sort of programming is extremely relevant and valuable for the top of any organization, but such programming assumes a strong foundational core and experience in making decisions that rely on a pre-existing level of global competence. Often times, this is an erroneous assumption. As a result, while global competence programming is focused on the upper right quadrant, the talent targeted to receive the programming may have neither the foundational knowledge nor the experience required to maximize the application of the new learning within their role, often resulting in organizations being unable to maximize the business impact and ROI from global competency investments.

 

To suggest that a “one-size-fits-all” solution would work for developing global competency would be naïve, but the value of a utilizing a decision based framework like the one presented above is to support organizations in being more deliberate in developing and investing in talent development programming. It reflects the ground truth of how different levels of talent in an organization engage in the global economy.