Managing Human Resources in a global company

Human Resources is a wide field. The bigger the company is, the wider the Human Resources activities are. When a company goes international, the activities are slightly different. In this article, we would like to introduce some specific points which have to be taken in consideration if you manage Human Resources internationally. Managing Human Resources internationally is about knowing geopolitics and the impact it can have on HR policies. Human Resources departments should be able to adapt their HR policies according to the different territories they deal with.

Corporate responsibility in foreign countries

More and more, we hear about « sustainable development », and Corporate Social Responsibility was the object of a previous article in this blog. Of course, according to the different places you work in, the expectations people have are different. Different countries have different local norms about sustainable development, and these norms can also be different according to the firm’s activity. It is necessary, when going international, to get to know about the existing norms concerning that field, the obligations, what you should do or not. As it was explained in a recent article, Corporate Social Responsibility can have a real impact on the brand image. Thus, it can have an impact on your activity itself. Considering the different countries and your corporate culture, always think about the business model you want to develop (for instance, the way you adapt you business model in an emergent country), think about your social investment or the way you manage health issues.

Intercultural management

Managing Human Resources in a multinational companies implies to know the different contexts you work with. Know cultural differences and analyse them, adapt your management to intercultural situations.

There are different kind of cultural differencess you can have to face, which are the following :

– Tactical ones : politeness, reunions, information

– Strategic ones : motivation (collective or individual, for instance) and leadership (hierarchic distance)

International Human Resources departments should be able to advise managers about these aspects. For instance, it is very important to allow them following trainings about intercultural management and specifically about everything they should know about a specific country. The company also has to have a linguistic policy. That means that the language used at work should be defined from the beginning : Do people have to speak the headoffice language or another one everywhere in the world? May they speak different languages?

In any case, and even if you get informed about every countries you are working in, don’t forget that not only the national culture can influence your activities, but also the corporate culture which is developped and, of course, the individualities.

International careers management for executives

Let’s focus on executive’s careers, because basically, they are the ones whose carees should be the most impacted by the companies’ internationalization. The main issue concerning career management in a multinational company is to threat every worker fairly. Thus, the tools you use to develop Human Resources should be smartly defined.

First, you need to have a common competency framework. Then, you should use similar approaches to follow employment trends in the different companies.

A very tough issue is defining high potentials when you have a high number of establishments and subsidiaries, especially those who could be available and who could be able to work abroad or even have international responsibilities. In order to succeed in it, you can of course use annual interviews, assessment centers and/or people reviews made my the HR department and the employee’s direct hierarchy.

An interesting practice multinational companies can have is creating multinational events and training. For instance, some companies, such as « Danone » founded « corporate universities ». It is an interesting way to gather people working in your company for different places in the world. It can help developping the feeling of belonging employees have. It is also a good mean to make those people meet, discuss and share their experiences.

There are three main means to develop Human Resources internationally :

– Expatriate people from the headoffice country

– Promote executives from the different countries

– Recruit people from abroad at the head office

Whatever you do when you manage Human Resources in a multinational company, these are a couple of things you should think about, among others.

Leave nothing to chance !

To read more…

« Développer les RH à l’international » – Benoît Théry, published by »Dunod »


2 commentaires sur “Managing Human Resources in a global company

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  1. Bravo pour ce focus « RH volet International » dans lequel vous faites le lien avec la géopolitique, la RSE, la culture locale,la gestion des carrières à l’international…Bien vu!


  2. Bravo pour ce bel article. Une petite discussion sur : existe-t-il des best practices valables dans le monde entier (ce que de nombreux groupes tentent de développer) ou comment et à quel degré les modes de management (et de gestion) doivent rester spécifiques à chaque pays / région pour être efficaces m’aurait semblé intéressante !


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