In today’s increasingly connected and international marketplace, HR professionals who have a strong understanding of global dynamics are going to have an advantage.
The question I often hear is, “How do I develop that global mindset?”
Many people in HR assume they can’t travel abroad and build valuable global knowledge unless their company sends them on an official work trip overseas. The reality is that you can take that initiative yourself and learn to become an effective global leader — whether you travel abroad regularly or not — and there’s a good chance your employer will take notice if you do.
These three steps will help you get started.
1. Develop Global Relationships Online
No matter what function you’re in within an organization, there’s a global community you can join via Facebook, LinkedIn or a professional association. These online communities are excellent ways to connect with your peers in other parts of the world and start meaningful conversations.
Investing time and energy in global social media groups can both help you with your professional development and expand your understanding of the global scope of your industry — all from your home or office.
2. Travel to an Overseas Conference, Then Hang Out
However, even if you’re active in every available international social media group for your profession, to fully expand your global understanding you’re going to have to travel. I would suggest figuring out how to travel internationally once a year — with an intention to visit a different country every trip. While this may sound daunting at first, there are practical ways to make it happen.
An excellent starting point is to attend a conference in another country or schedule an annual professional development trip overseas, then tack on some time to explore and network after your official business is wrapped.
For example, if you’re traveling to a three-day conference in another country, add a few days and use the connections that you’re making in your online groups to meet with people face-to-face in that city. There’s nothing better than immersing yourself in another culture.
3. Explore International Development Opportunities
A very powerful way to expand your global mindset is to travel with a group of like-minded professionals to really explore a specific country. A good place to begin is Nanda Journeys, a travel company that brings together travelers with purpose and passion to explore the world in a meaningful way — whether it’s nurses to Vietnam, dentists to Ecuador or HR people to Singapore.
An associate and I organize an HR delegation every year to a different country. In recent years, we’ve taken 21 HR-related professionals to Cuba for a week and another dozen to Japan. Last year we traveled with an HR group to the Czech Republic and Hungary. In each location, we meet with government officials, academics and business leaders about HR topics and talent issues.
On one of the trips, an attendee was the head of talent acquisition for a specific business unit inside a global organization, and she said the trip was part of her strategy to take on a more global job. This person was wisely investing in her ability to understand talent acquisition dynamics in other parts of the world.
When she returned her company took note of her willingness to invest her own funds and time in an international learning perspective and put her into a global job within a few months.
If you truly want to understand how things work in other parts of the world and make the investment to start your learning curve, your employer is likely to notice that effort and support your journey. And if they don’t then you have a great foundation to find an organization that’s more conducive to your global learning.