Whether it is a global company or a local company, gearing up for a global workplace is a priority for all. The organizational leadership and the HR heads are increasingly looking for ways to shape a workforce that caters to the global technological and cultural needs.
Some of the key challenges that most HR leaders face across the board include organizational readiness for a diversity of leadership at the top and developing critical capabilities.
“To be able to embrace the various differences and yet be receptive to different perspectives--I think that is very very key,” said Evangeline Chua, Chief People Officer, Government Technology Agency of Singapore, on a recent episode of PeopleMatters TV.
For Sunil Puri, APAC Director, Research, Innovation and Product Development (RPID), Center for Creative Leadership, Singapore, critical capabilities that executives must possess include: Courage, Curiosity, Trust, Strategic Thinking and Influencing skills.
If a company has its headquarters in the US or Europe with branches in Singapore, they would need executives who understand not only the business skills but also the cultural nuances of how business is done in the APAC region.
As Asian countries become the catchment area for developing strong and skilled talent, the need for Asian executives continues to rise.
“The need for Asian executives will not only be to run businesses that are based in Asia but also to inform the headquarters how to win business in Asia,” said Puri.
For a growing economy like that of Singapore, creating a talent pool that is global ready is crucial for its sustainable growth, reflected Chua. At present, Singapore is a cosmopolitan country with a stable economy and multiple nationalities working in the island country.
“Businesses see that there are a lot of opportunities in the country along with the ones that the government is providing. It is incentivizing and making sure that the Singaporeans, as well as the citizens here, the permanent residents here and the residents here, are actually developing the talent,” Chua said. “If you don’t continue to develop the talent, people will stop coming in and pouring in the investment.”
The need for a global-ready talent is mutual. No company can remain in a cocoon in this increasingly global world.
“As a global company, they require local talent primarily because they need the local talent to build a talent pipeline that will act as a bridge,” Chua said. “As a local company, you need global talent for knowledge transfer and diversity of views.”
Enabling existing employees to tap into the expertise of global talent is a major step towards creating a holistic workforce that is well-versed in global-speak.
For Chua’s organization, partnering with Singaporean executives halfway across the world in San Francisco has proven to be successful in training local leaders. Through the Digital Technology Advancement Program and Technical Mentorship programs, engineers working in Singapore get to travel to the global headquarters of MNCs and learn from experts in their respective fields.
“The Singaporeans out there who are actually very willing to chip in to help develop Singapore as a technology ecosystem and we are taping on them to mentor our engineers as well,” added Chua.
The knowledge transfer becomes a crucial learning for the organization as a whole. Once these engineers learn how products and services are manufactured and delivered in a global company, they bring back the learning and show an ROI as well. Moreover, this initiative also acts as a retention tool, Chua added.
Helping executives step out of their comfort zones can go a long way in developing local talent that is ready for a global workforce.
"Spending time outside of your home country can be intimidating," said Puri. "But it is an absolute must if you are preparing an executive for a global role. Research shows that a couple of years outside of your home country opens your mind up to different possibilities."
The training for a globe-ready executive goes beyond a traditional classroom setting, added Puri. It must be a combination of experiences that an employee goes through coupled with elements of online learning.
For Puri, the cookie-cutter approach towards leadership development that most companies adopt, needs to stop.
“Picking up a program developed in your headquarters and trying to roll it out in Asia, hoping that you’ll develop leaders quickly, needs to stop,” he said, adding that the need of the hour is to contextualize experiences and programs to suit the cultural setting of each country where a company operates.
Chua urges HR leaders to start taking risks and take a chance on people who might show the potential for becoming great global leaders. Most of the time leaders want to make sure that a particular executive is a 99 percent fit for a leadership role. However, without taking a chance on someone, it is unlikely that they would ever break out of the role and style of working that they have been used to.
You can watch the show here.
PeopleMatters TV is a weekly web series that brings global leaders together on a platform to discuss how the HR function and its different verticals are transforming to adapt to the new needs of business & leveraging the power of technology. To register for the upcoming sessions, register here.