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Action Steps for Global HR

November 1, 1997
Related Topics: Global Business Issues, Featured Article
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Based on interviews with dozens of senior human resources managers from Europe, Asia and the United States, authors Michael S. Schell and Charlene Marmer Solomon recommend ways in which HR can be most proactive and effective. This information is based on their book, "Capitalizing on the Global Workforce: A Strategic Guide for Expatriate Management" (McGraw-Hill 1997). The steps below enumerate components of the primary challenge facing human resources in the next decade: creating a global corporate culture.

  1. Take every piece of the HR function and see how it can be impacted beneficially by technology.
  2. HR must be a partner to line managers. Don't abdicate your responsibilities to line management.
  3. Educate self and others about business issues.
  4. Facilitate change management. Help people prepare and adapt to change and complexity through education.
  5. Understand customers, products/services and so on. HR must be able to educate others about how the company does business and how HR is helping in that process.
  6. HR must be considered on the same level as business development, finance and marketing. It must be seen as being either as important as these functions, or the most important function, in the organization. If HR isn't reporting to the top, there's something wrong.
  7. Be willing to transfer responsibility to employees. By empowering employees, HR can do away with tunnel vision of one's function and focus on broader issues.
  8. Identify skills for new HR professionals. These will include financial/business skills as well as sales skills by which HR can sell their partnership to the business manager's world.
  9. HR professionals must force themselves to speak the language of business managers. They must be aggressive about being included and respected.
  10. The HR function must constantly prove it's relevant to the project.

Source: "Capitalizing on the Global Workforce: A Strategic Guide for Expatriate Management" (McGraw-Hill 1997) by Michael S. Schell and Charlene Marmer Solomon

Workforce, November 1997, Vol. 76, No. 11, p.36.

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