Traditionally, global organizations have had a difficult time tying talent management processes together, making information sharing and data collection complicated at best. Missed deliverable dates and inaccuracies that are inherent to manual collating have been stress points for many business leaders who use data to make decisions. It doesn’t have to be like this.
With advances in connectivity the world is, in many ways, getting smaller. Organizations whose leaders understand the importance of having cohesive global teams get it: The team needs to be connected. And as technology advances, the ability to link talent management processes on Internet based integrated platforms advances too. This can enable real-time access to information and data collection that supports performance measurement and analytics on a global scale with relative ease.
Using global talent management platforms can help the organization provide easy access to information. It can reduce processing costs, and it can make employees realize they are part of something larger…but putting those global platforms in place is no small task.
The truth is; companies have dealt with the basic issues of global implementation for decades. They are fundamental challenges related to people, process and planning. While they are not news unto themselves, frequently the problems emerge as lessons unlearned or forgotten from previous experience.
With that in mind, it’s good to look at the basics and with the right perspective, recognize and address the challenges of the past before they turn into new lessons learned.
Global implementation projects, like most projects, require commitment from the organization’s leadership, a team of people committed to the same goals, careful planning and dedicated team members. To be successful with global integrations you must also consider cultural differences, variations in legal requirements and, of course, meeting virtually and across time zones.
When it comes to managing people, success begins with participation.
There must be global participation in development of the project charter and in every element of the work, from charter development to the party after successful go-live. You can look at the cultural differences as an issue or consider it an opportunity to take advantage of your organization’s own rich culture. Respect of all cultures is essential and it’s important that everyone’s point of view be considered – someone else just might have a better idea.
Clear direction is also essential. You need to start with clear direction from the project sponsors regarding resources and expectations. Without documented objectives it’s not likely the transition will move along crisply.
It also takes strong project leadership to handle the dynamics of a multi-cultural team. While many cultures in the global community are willing to contribute and have “spirited” discussions about what they think, other cultures consider such open dialog inappropriate. The work environment needs to be a safe place in which members are allowed to contribute in a style with which they are comfortable.
Team members need to be willing to represent their regions or areas of expertise while accepting that they might have to consider new ideas and change.
Discussions about team goals and member roles and responsibilities before project start will reduce the chances of misunderstanding and increase performance.
When implementing a global system, consider that process elements regarded basic in some business cultures are new ideas in others, and they might even be inappropriate. The good news is that although there will surely be some differences; most talent management processes have much more in common.
No system or group of systems can manage what I will call a “non-process.” At the outset you may expect to find vast differences in talent management processes across cultures.
The fact is, in most organizations the people management processes-from talent acquisition to onboarding, performance management or succession planning-are often very much the same. Typically, slight variations are necessary to support cultural and legal requirements.
While the variations may be slight, it’s important to stay ahead of them. This can be accomplished by establishing a detailed process map agreed to by the team. This map needs to be in place before any configuration decision-making begins. Most solutions can facilitate variations in process but the team needs to be mindful of reporting goals when opening the door to options. Spending time working toward consensus in the front end to the project is well worth the effort.
You’ve got the right people on the team. The process has been hammered out and documented. Now it’s time to do some detailed planning. The project plan should provide a comprehensive task list that documents task owners and due dates. While the team may break out into regional or subject matter task teams, the entire team should participate in regular status meetings to be sure everyone in on the road to success. The tracking of actions and deliverables should be centralized and communicated regularly.
Understanding work schedule differences and holiday schedules in all participating regions is essential. Finding out that a region’s offices are required by law to work reduced schedules in summer or shut down for extended periods at the year end late in the project can obviously create huge schedule issues that could have been avoided.
While a global talent technology implementation requires focus, communication and commitment from across the organization, companies are achieving success on an enterprise scale. They are connecting processes and people, doing a better job of competing for talent, and improving their ability to retain the talent they have. It’s a process that requires attention to the people, the processes and the implementation plan itself, but the fundamental challenges have not changed. The good news is, while implementation of a global system is no small journey, the rewards are well worth the effort.