Working in global businesses is complex; more complex than you ever realise until you do it. The easy truths that seem both simple and correct in one territory don’t always apply in another. The lure of scale and standardisation is strong; it makes absolute sense in the business case. But what about on the ground?
Imagine for the moment you’re not a talent advisor or recruiting professional, but instead the head of procurement for a global retailer. There are certain things you know are pretty much going to sell anywhere: Batteries, toilet paper, pencils and rubber gloves (no, that’s not my shopping list… don’t worry). But what about sunscreen? Snow chains? Or Stetson cowboy hats?
Similarly, there are elements of your talent attraction strategy that are standard.
In these cases, a global approach can be a sensible solution. Global partnerships can be formed for very senior executive hires with international headhunting businesses. And if the right infrastructure exists, HR technology solutions can also be implemented globally. Most great platforms have global capability, and the focus is always on configuration rather than customisation.
The benefit of standardization is that the larger territories can often do the heavy lifting for the smaller ones. By being part of a global business, you benefit from its economic and organisational strength in the way you would be able to if you were an independent entity operating in India.
But the idea that hands-on talent attraction and acquisition can be handled globally? Nope, I don’t buy it. I once had a telephone interview with an American recruiter looking to fill a role in the U.K. During the conversation, I mentioned I wasn’t big on the “tea and sympathy” approach to HR. I got turned down. In the feedback was my startling approach to having very little “team sympathy.”
He misheard me due to my accent (or his, perhaps), and it wasn’t a bad phone line, either.
The thing is that local recruiting units are going to understand the specific needs, requirements and cultural aspects better than anyone parachuting in from a global function. Like the head of procurement for a global retailer, recruiters and HR professionals need to understand when to rely on the strength and power of global infrastructure — and when to allow local experts to tailor and adapt the offering to their needs.
Global or local? It’s probably glocal, but that’s a stupid term. So let’s say it is a bit of both. You just need to have the insight, understanding and lack of corporate ego to know which strategy to deploy when.
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