Planning for Expatriate Success

This is an excerpt from a paper I wrote while working on my MBA.To read the entire article, download the PDF “Planning for Expatriate Success.”

The modern day business environment requires organizations to compete on a global scale. In order to compete on a global scale, organizations must implement proper strategic plans to ensure that they remain competitive in the international markets. To ensure success, an organization must have a global strategic plan that covers all aspects of the business, including a globally conscious human resources strategy.

Global competition more often than not requires an organization to rethink their strategic plans. This reformulation of strategy must be done to ensure that products and services are tailored to the culture and environment of the region they are operating in. In the book titled International Assignments: An Integration of Strategy, Research, and Practice, the author’s provide insight into the specialized skills needed in the global environment when they write:

To effectively formulate or implement strategic plans for the 21st century, managers and executives must be able to focus on the unique needs of local foreign customers, suppliers, labor pools, government policies, and technology and at the same time on general trends in the world marketplace. For an individual, this requires tremendous environmental-scanning abilities just to pick up the information. It requires vast knowledge and processing abilities to categorize and interpret raw data effectively. It requires being able to understand and work well with people from different cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds as well as the ability to manage teams composed of cross-cultural members (Stroh, Black, Mendenhall, & Gregersen, 2005, p. 6).

In addition to the business practices and strategy, the global organization must ensure that their human resources strategy takes a global approach to the staffing of the organization. This strategy should include the hiring of a local workforce as well as the use of international assignments for their employees. Local staffing provides the cultural intelligence needed for the organization and key managers and leadership from outside the region to help build the organizations presence and environment in the new region/country. International assignments such as these can provide key employees valuable lessons in international management and multi-cultural organizations.

Selecting the ‘right’ person for an international assignment is just the first step for an organization. In addition to the selection process, an organization must properly plan for the relocation, reassignment and support of the employee and the employee’s family. To properly plan for the international assignment, an organization needs to consider all aspects of the assignment and prepare the assignee and their family for the relocation and immersion into a new culture and assignment. Runnion (2005) describes this planning process as a multi-stage process whereby goals, compensation, relocation services, support services and training services are agreed upon (Runnion, 2005, pp. 21-22) and then implemented.


References:

  • Runnion, T. T. (2005, July 2005). Expatriate programs: From preparation to success. Workspan, 48(7), pp. 20-22.
  • Stroh, L. K., Black, J. S., Mendenhall, M. E., & Gregersen, H. B. (2005). International assignments: An integration of strategy, research and practice (1st ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

[tags] Expatriate Success, Human Resource, HR, Leadership, International Assignments [/tags]

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Implementing a High Performance Work System

This is an excerpt of a paper I wrote while working on my MBA. To read the entire article, download the PDFImplementing a High Performance Work System.”

High Performance Work System is a name given to a set of management practices that attempt to create an environment within an organization where the employee has greater involvement and responsibility. More specifically, HPWS has been defined by Bohlander et al (2004) as “a specific combination of HR practices, work structures, and processes that maximizes employee knowledge, skill, commitment and flexibility” (Bohlander & Snell, 2004, p. 690).

Barnes (2001) writes that the concept and ideas for high performance work systems has existed for quite some time and has its roots in the late twentieth century amid the upheaval in the United States manufacturing environment (Barnes, 2001, p. 2). During this period, the manufacturing industry in America had realized that global competition had arrived and they needed to rethink the ‘tried and true’ manufacturing processes. The concepts that arose out of these turbulent times are items that eventually would become key components of a high performance work system.

The first component is the concept of “increased opportunity to participate in decisions” (Barnes, p. 9) for employees. The ability for an employee to participate in the decision making process is considered to be one of the key elements of an HPWS because it allows the employee to make decisions that effect their immediate environment, which in turn effect the entire organization. This participation provides leads to employees feeling more empowered, which leads to a more committed workforce, at least in theory.

The second component is training. This training provides employees with the necessary skills to perform their jobs in a more effective manner as well as the opportunity to assume greater responsibility within an organization. Training also gives organizations a way to cross-train employees in different skills and roles to ensure that employees understand many roles within an organization.

The third component is employee incentives. The two previous elements help to prepare employees and organizations for successful HPWS implementation and operation, but without incentives, the system will most likely fail. Organizations need to find a way to link pay with performance in order to incentivize an employee to focus “on outcomes that are beneficial to themselves and the organization as a whole” (Bohlander & Snell, 2004, p. 698). Incentives can take many forms, with some examples being stock options and other equity plans, profit sharing plans, pay raises, bonuses for meeting performance targets and other monetary incentives.In addition, incentives can take the form of non-monetary options such as time off, flextime, group lunches and other special employee benefits.

In addition to the three components of involvement, training and incentives, there is also a fourth element that makes up another key component of modern day high performance work systems. Technology is everywhere in the world today and must be considered as part of any organizational development exercise. Within high performance work systems, technology does not have to be leading edge technology solutions, but it does provide an “infrastructure for communicating and sharing information vital to business performance” (Bohlander & Snell, 2004, p. 699).

References:

  • Barnes, W. F. (2001). The challenge of implementing and sustaining high performance work systems in the United States: An evolutionary analysis of I/N Tek and Kote. Doctoral dissertation : University of Notre Dame.
  • Bohlander, G., & Snell, S. (2004). Managing human resources (13th ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western.
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The Strategic use of Human Resources

This is an excerpt of a paper I wrote while working on my MBA. To read the entire article, download the PDFThe Strategic use of Human Resources.”

One concept that emerged in the late twentieth century that calls for a strategic partnership with HR is the concept called Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM). SHRM has been defined as “the linking of HRM with strategic goals and objectives in order to improve business performance and develop organizational cultures that foster innovation and flexibility” (Truss & Gratton, 1994). In the SHRM view, the functional and operational aspects of an organization’s HR group are still important and necessary, but the HR group is also considered to be a partner within the organization and is involved in developing strategy. The strategy developed from this partnership provides a framework for HR activities that assist the organization in creating a high performing workforce that is motivated and happy.

The SHRM concept is a powerful concept if applied correctly within an organization. HR groups are able to plan for future growth and respond to any changes that may occur. In addition, SHRM allows companies to fully utilize their human assets to create real advantage over their competitors. This advantage comes from having the HR policies and strategies perfectly aligned with the corporate goals so that the organization has the right human capital, right benefits packages and training methodologies to allow the employees to effectively do their jobs.

In short, SHRM allows an organization to create a competitive advantage with their human assets by aligning their strategic goals with their HRM systems. Author Ronald Sims states it clearly when he writes:

Successful organizations in the future must closely align their HRM strategies and programs with the external opportunities, competitive strategies, and their unique characteristics and core competence. Organizations that fail to clearly define HRM strategy or competitive strategy that explicitly incorporates human resources will not be successful (Sims, 2002, p. 30).

References:

  • Sims, R. R. (2002). Organizational success through effective human resources management (1st ed.). Westport, CT: Quorum Books.
  • Truss, C., & Gratton, L. (1994, September 1994). Strategic human resource management: A conceptual approach. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 5(3), p. 663.
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