The Great Global Talent Search: Retooling for Greater Employability

sustainability-boy-worldI watch and listen. Industry leader Yasir Abulrahman was sharing with my undergraduate class an overview of cross-cultural interests as they related to operating a business in the Middle East. Yasir, who has Middle Eastern roots himself, explained how some U.S. managers went abroad on work assignments without understanding cultural sensitivity.

Sadly, these managers underestimated the problems associated with continental differences.  Yet, most companies cannot afford to make these international debacles.  Can you? This article examines how individuals can position themselves with greater employability by acquiring the necessary global competencies for the future. Continue reading

Beating the Global Competition with Value Creation

I do struggle a little with my conscious.  Yes, I’ve been called a pretty hard nose professor who pushes his students.  I tell my students I have a low rating on empathy and mercy when it relates to missing my deadlines. 

However, even the meanest Scrooge would have to have compassion for over 15 million unemployed in America.  But—it becomes personal as you hear about your neighbors, co-workers, and family members who have been laid off. 

Financial institutions and other businesses hold on to their record profits for the ultimate use of their money.  Politicians call them job creators which is ironic since businesses primary motives are to make a profit, not give someone a job.

Companies chase emerging markets abroad. According to government estimates, an additional 1.2 million manufacturing jobs will disappear from America by 2018. If in the process a job is made, those are secondary considerations.

Only when business subscript to a business strategy that involves value creation can they hope to sustain profitability. In this paradigm workers are viewed as assets not liabilities.

Yet, many companies build their profitability on this simple equation. Companies seek to reduce their inputs (outsourcing labor, better technologies) to obtain ‘more profits.’ Yet, it’s pretty self-serving with little regard to  customers and employees.

The definition of value depends on the individual. For this discussion, value is defined as the net bundle of benefits the customer derives from a product of service.  Value is defined as the net bundle of benefits the customer derives from a product of service.  Most companies compete on low cost or differentiation strategy to create this value.

In emerging countries where wages are low, it is very difficult for America businesses to compete.  That is why many companies have opted to outsource some of their core functions abroad.  Yet, America’s strength has always been its innovation and creativity.  These attributes are key ingredients for an effective differentiation strategy.

John Gamble and Arthur Thompson, authors of Essentials of Strategic Management, further examined the concept of value as a strategic advantage: “The most appealing approaches to differentiation are those that are hard or expensive for rivals to duplicate.” Therefore, an effective value creation strategy can beat almost any competitor, globally and domestically. 

This reality is due to the fact that the organization is keenly attuned to the needs of their customers. If individuals keep the concepts of value creation in their mindset, they will be able to overcome many of the disruptive changes to come.

How does value creation relate to sustainability for today’s leaders? Discuss your professional experience with value creation. 

© 2012 by Daryl D. Green                                    


 

Globalization Upon Us

American children sing “We are the world,” but the world does not listen. Children in Iran burn American flags. Children in Iraq throw stones at American soldiers. Children in China write hateful essays about the “evil” American ways. American politicians attempt to spin how third world countries embrace Western ways while the terrorist alert is heightened to acknowledge another international threat. Increased globalization has elevated the risk at the domestic and international levels for US government military and civilian personnel.

According to the Forrester Research, approximately 3.3 million U.S. jobs and $136 billion in wages could be moved overseas to countries like India and China by 2015. Therefore, many organizations will need to change their strategies in order to meet the international challenges ahead.

Let’s look into the future. Many developing countries will continue to grow strongly over the next decade. In fact, these countries steadily shift to consumer-led growth instead of export-led growth.  The dollar spirals downward and foreign currency goes upward.  China and India have added millions to their labor force creating products as well as outsourcing their services abroad at a fraction of what American workers can provide. 

These upstart countries are positioning themselves to become the next Super Power.  For example, China passed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy. According to the World Bank estimates, China could surpass the US by 2020. China’s gross domestic product (GDP) spreads across 1.3 billion people ($3,600 per person) while the US GDP covers a smaller population ($42,000 per person). Yet, China will continue to fuel the world’s economy due to its thirst for raw materials and products in order to meet its own demand.

Globalization continues to transform our organizations.  Today, many American businesses have a global focus.  The S&P 500 companies now generate 46% of their profits outside the US. In fact, some of the largest companies are higher.  For example, Coca-Cola has become a very successful brand abroad, with operations in 206 countries.  Over 80% of the company’s revenue comes from abroad.  Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent explains, “We are a global company that happens to be headquartered in Atlanta. 

Do the math!  American businesses are headed offshore for increased profitability.  Companies gain from this foreign exodus the benefits of accessing more lucrative markets, new technologies, easy credit, and quality, cheap labor. When American businesses cut jobs, it has impacted the standard of living for today’s families.

Columnist Fareed Zakaria highlights the dilemma: “Capital and technology are mobile; labor isn’t….And this is a country with one of the highest wages in the world, because it is one of the richest countries in the world. That makes it difficult for the American middle-class worker to benefit from technology and global growth in the same way that countries do.” 

Economist pundits and political opportunists paint globalization as the best thing since sliced bread yet hide the realities of global competition from the general public. The forecasted outlook for the full-time worker is bleak. Clearly, technology and outsourcing are making the contingent (temporary) and other forms of flexible labor (independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary help agency, part-time, and contract workers) a reality for future employment opportunities.

As a matter of fact, Charles Handy theorized that unemployed or spare workers would create their own new work in the future. Business executives express little moral remorse as they keep American workers at bay.  Therefore, a different type of U.S. business model will need to be developed for global competition in the near future.

How do US organizations compete globally with the realities of outsourcing and create an American labor force that is clearly energized and motivated in the process?  What will happen to the quality of life for the middle class as global averages impact American wages?

 © 2011 by Daryl D. Green

 

The Search of Global Talent

It is 2150. Science and technology rule the world. Artificial intelligence provides the life blood for the universe. Basic robotic beings conduct all manual labor. Therefore, humanity enjoys endless pleasures and high level thinking. Surprisingly, a rodent dashes through the power grid, bypassing a sophisticated security system and blacks out Earth. Living at the core of the planet, Earth inhabitants stand in darkness. There are no engineers, technicians, and scientists. Humanity has abandoned scientific pursuits in the quest for a better life. 

Why are American businesses excited about global outsourcing while their employees sound the alarm on the impending danger ahead? As I watch numerous companies outsource their corporate souls abroad, I wonder, what is the future of our workforce?  When global competition should bring out the best in humanity, perhaps it is bringing out the worst in us.

As American company after company relishes its stronghold on innovation and creativity to the rest of the world, global competition escalates.  When managers should be developing their employees so that they can get the best performance out of them, managers develop systems that do not inspire or empower workers but maintain the status quo.  Sadly, this is a tragic mistake as countries seek out the best talent in the future.

In a rapidly changing environment, organizations need to understand the rule that talented individuals will play in the future. Some organizations play with strategic planning for the predicted problems of the future, yet they neglect the unintended consequences of what is happening in the near term.

Watts Wacker, Jim Taylor, and Howard Means, authors of The Visionary’s Handbook, explain, “Fail to build your own future, and someone is going to build one for you.” 

Dr. James Canton, nationally recognized futurist, analyzes 10 critical emerging trends in his book, Extreme Future. Dr. Canton notes, “Everyone needs to think differently about the future, a future that is riddled with change, challenge, and risk.” He further provides the five factors that will shape the extreme future which are speed, complexity, risk, change, and surprise. Yet, what emerges from Dr. Canton’s prediction is an increasing need for more worldwide talent.

There is a growing battle developing as companies fight for positioning on the global market.  In fact, this war is waging across the globe.  Countries are searching for the brightest and smartest talent. The Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey involved a study of 1,176 companies across the world, including 314 from the United States.  The survey found that the vast majority of the companies were having difficulty attracting the critical-skill and talented employees to help them compete during this economic crisis. 

According to the study, 65% of the companies reported having problems obtaining the needed talent (52% of American businesses).  In fact, many businesses aren’t even able to retain their own employees.  American businesses were reporting losing 11% of their workforce while globally it’s over 20%.

Gaining the right kind of attributes will make workers more valuable. Ryan Johnson, WorldatWork Vice President, notes “This study is a good reminder that employers need to reassess their employee value proposition to key in on those factors, both tangible and intangible, that would make them attractive to recruits.”

According to the survey, the top talent management priorities were (a) Ensuring the readiness of talent in critical roles, (b) Increasing the investment in building an internal pipeline of talent, and (c) Creating more development opportunities within (rotations, etc.).  Therefore, the quest for worldwide talent will dominate most countries economic agenda as they seek to position themselves in the future.

What is the workforce aftermath if America cannot compete for future talent? What effect will global outsourcing have in the overall strategy of tomorrow’s organizations? 

 © 2010 by Daryl D. Green

Value Modeling

In the 1987 classic Movie Wallstreet, America witnessed a growing trend of the American Dream. Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), a Wall Street stockbroker, wanted to get to the top at any cost. This short track path to riches led him to broker Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas).  Gekka was shrewd and dangerous; his philosophy was built on “Greed is Good.” Fox soon became engulfed in the glamorous life of the powerful. But—it was at a high moral cost.

Scandals may drive media ratings and turn the trivial into the most critical. However, moral decay does not help companies compete or make society a better place. We’ve discussed the socio-technical system as it relates to global markets. In building effective socio-technical systems, one needs to focus on (a) value modeling, (b) technology relevancy, and (c) human factor buy-in. With the continual ethical failures of government officials and business executives on Wall Street, many workers view ethical policies of today’s organizations with some cynicism. Do you?

A high performing organization must model its values to both first line supervisors and managers in a socio-technical system. Many organizations expect employees to understand its culture, values, and principles by attending new employee orientation or by reading a company brochure. This is simply not going to happen.

Vince Adams, who has over 19 years as senior environmental manager, understands the delicacy of balancing a socio-technical system. Adams has extensive experience with both government and private organizations that are find themselves neglecting to outline and demonstrate their value systems to employees. Adams states, “Companies must build values into their employees so that employees know what the expectations are for that organization.”

James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge, have researched over several thousand businesses and government executives and they outline setting the example as a critical attribute of effective leadership. Kouzes and Posner argue, “Once people are clear about the leader’s value, about their own values, and about shared values, they know what’s expected of them and can better handle the conflicting demands of work and personal affairs.”  Therefore, employees expect leaders in organizations to model the way in their organizations, and this is also true for socio-technical systems.

Is it possible for today’s managers to regain the confidence of workers on the ethical front? If so, how

© 2010 by Daryl D. Green

Virtual Strategies for 21st Century Organizations

The latest business craze of the 21st century encompasses going global. Yet, these organizations often operate virtually. Communication, however, takes on a brand new meaning when there is no “face-to-face” interaction between team members to facilitate these nontraditional relationships; it is essential to understand how to unify these virtual relationships.

Furthermore, many companies have allowed workers to work from home to achieve huge company savings. Managers assume that an employee, equipped with a computer and fax machine, can stay connected to the organization. This outlook is simply a myth.

James Kouzes and Barry Posner, Authors of The Leadership Challenge, further explain, “…how do leaders create commitment in a virtual organization? Can there be such a thing as virtual commitment?” According to a USA Today poll, nearly half of those interviewed said that corporations can be trusted only a little, or not at all, when it involves looking out for the best interest of employees. Relationships are built on trust. This blog explores the characteristics of effective virtual teams in 21st century organizations.

Virtual organizations are becoming the mascot for globalization. A virtual team (VT) is geographically separated and has very little personal contact; it depends on computers and telecommunication technologies such as the internet and videoconferencing.  VTs provide the benefits of bringing talented people together, providing international perspectives, and saving millions in traveling costs. Yet, going virtual isn’t easy.

 VT organizations are creating a buzz in the academic community. There is a burgeoning literature on virtual teams. As more organizations allow employees to work from remote locations away from their headquarters, there is an increasing problem with office staffing and organizational effectiveness.

 Traditional organizations must shift their viewpoints on virtual organizations. To address human capital issues, an institution must understand the nature of virtual organizations. Effective virtual teams manifest a variety of characteristics including well-defined group sponsorship, goal consensus, effective selection practices, an appropriate skill mix, and specific performance measures linked to goal achievement. Virtual organizations challenge today’s personnel management system by their very existence as a rising number of employees are telecommuting.

 In the old paradigm, managers were required to be technical experts who defined the tasks for the employees. In the new virtual structure, managers are expected to provide technical direction. However, the manager allows employees to participate and listen to their suggestions.

Managers must weigh telecommuting’s benefits against its weaknesses, including reduced employee oversight and accountability, lower productivity, and less direct interpersonal contact thereby decreasing team building opportunities and isolating employees. In fact, VTs require a shift in leadership paradigms. Leaders in virtual organizations must provide an organizational structure for achieving their objectives that is flexible and organic.

 Going virtual will continue to challenge traditional thinking. Establishing trust within a virtual team environment is a prerequisite for an effective team.

 How can organizations build virtual structures that are effective and sustainable?   

 © 2010 by Daryl D. Green