Today I have the honor of interviewing Joanne Flynn of Phoenix Strategic Performance. Joanne is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, business resilience, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and change management. Here is what Joanne had to share:
Q1: What are the biggest mistakes you see companies making in terms of global talent management?
Over the decades the same, obvious mistake continues to happen. We don’t take into account the cultural nuances of the international business culture we are either doing business in or with. From an American perspective, we continue to think that other cultures will naturally adapt to our American business culture and we stumble every time. We must understand and then acknowledge the differences, teach them and then incorporate them into the business operating style, mentality and practice of every person responsible for interacting on a global level. If employees can’t make that leap – they should not be allowed to play on the global playing field.
Q2: What are the traits you look for in a successful global corporate leader?
I look for global citizen with global business acumen, cultural business acumen and the ability to adapt leadership style and practices to the local cultural needs. If an organization is committed to global growth, it needs to develop a bench of global leaders before there is a specific need. A crash course in working globally doesn’t necessarily create the true multidimensional global / cultural mindset that a true global leader needs. The worst scenario takes place when an organization has a global post that needs to be assigned. The leader assigned is a home office SME but has never worked internationally. This person is ‘immersed’ in everything local in the 2 weeks prior to being reassigned, and we consider that person ‘fit for purpose’. Consider that an emergency measure – not a long-term global strategy.
Q3: How important is cultural competency in international business hiring/promotion decisions?
Cultural competency is a fundamental strategic and operating skill. If that skill is missing, then the strategic business impact can be both damaging and derailing. I have seen instances where lack of cultural competency sidelined an organization’s growth for 5 years. Can we afford those types of mistakes in a highly competitive global marketplace? I don’t think so!
Q4: In your opinion, which works better: moving expats into key overseas positions or hiring local?
If your operation is a start-up, you should begin with moving culturally sensitive, well-versed expats into the new organization. They bring with them corporate knowledge and the network to get things done quickly. However, you need to immediately plan to onboard local talent as quickly as possible.
If your operation is sustainable business, then hiring local talent should be the goal – only using expats when necessary and for the short term.
Q5: What advice can you give a growing company about hiring locals for positions in foreign subsidiaries?
If you can find local talent who can understand your organization’s goals – it is best to hire locally. However, you must bring that person into your central operating hub so the local hire has the advantage of learning about your organization first had and understanding your operating culture. I have seen examples of when the local person is hired in and then left to figure things out. That normally does not end well.
If you cannot immediately find local talent, then you must send a non-local employee to start the process but immediately construct a plan to find and develop local talent. Be sure that whoever the non-local employee is, they have the ability to work in a local and global environment.
About Joanne Flynn
Joanne Flynn is the Managing Director of Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. She focuses on human capital relative to strategic initiatives, business growth, value creation and business development. Since 1989, Joanne has headed up the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International. Previously, from 1980 – 1989, Joanne was Vice President of Global Learning & Development for Goldman Sachs, Inc.
Joanne is experienced in all aspects of organizational development and training on a global level. Her consulting engagements have included the design and delivery of training and development programs on the topics of strategic leadership, business development, client account management, strategic selling, management development, and executive coaching. Her consulting clients range from global investment banks, small private equity / venture capital firms to small to mid-sized companies.
Joanne holds a Master of Arts degree in Business Management from the University of Oklahoma. In addition, she graduated summa cum laude and holds a double degree major in History and German from the College of St. Elizabeth in New Jersey. She also holds certificates from a variety of leading professional training and development organizations.