By Neal Goodman, Ph.D.
Training departments face the dual challenge of providing talent development and reward and recognition in a culturally appropriate manner, and developing employees to lead and work in a multicultural, global economy.
As reported in the Financial Times April 20, 2011, organizations increasingly are using integrated software suites that allow them to set goals specific to an individual employee’s role, which also is linked directly to the company’s objectives. Such software packages keep records of the employee’s skills and goals. From all appearances, we are continuing to remove the human component from the training and development process. Such dehumanization, however expedient, runs counter to the best practices in much of the world.
Most Western (particularly American) talent development processes are developed with the idea that it is the individual who should be the focus of talent development. The individual will be assessed based on his or her performance independent of others and often in competition with others.
More commonly in Asia, and to some extent in South America and the Middle East, talent is based on the ability to be a contributing part of the collective. The focus is on an integrated interdependent organization. Such differences between Western and Eastern approaches must be reconciled since more than 60 percent of the world’s population lives in Asia. Such cultural assumptions go to the heart of how we design development and reward and recognition policies.
T&D can play a significant role by creating integrated learning experiences, rather than focusing on developing individuals, according to Sue Todd, president, Corporate University Xchange. To put this into perspective, we can consider the practice of traditional Japanese and Korean organizations where their best talent is developed through a prolonged “boot camp” lasting four months or longer. In such programs, each new employee is trained in a holistic group, learning each others’ strengths and weaknesses. This allows the organization and the individual to see where their skills could best help the organization and also allows for each new leader to know each other and to form lifelong bonds based on a shared experience. Leaders thus learn each others’ unique strengths and expertise.
In Asia, talent is measured by the ability to build long-term trusting relationships, along with the knowledge of functional skills. Relationships permeate all aspects of business, from supervision to client relationships. Rewards and recognition go to groups or teams rather than to individuals. How many Western companies make this a priority?
Talent with a Global Perspective
Many forward-thinking organizations know they need talent with the cultural fluency to take advantage of the opportunities in the global marketplace. Let’s look at three solutions:
Share your best practices and case studies on this topic with me for inclusion in future columns. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neal Goodman, Ph.D., is president of Global Dynamics, Inc., a training and development firm specializing in globalization, cultural intelligence, effective virtual workplaces, and diversity and inclusion. He can be reached at 305.682.7883 and at email@example.com. For more information, visit http://www.global-dynamics.com.