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All other trade-marks are the property of their respective owners. V1_20140103
20131223_HRPro_1/2pdf_Mar-Apr.indd 1 1/6/2014 3:32 PM
It’s elemental HR to know that developing
engagement and improving productivi-ty
depends on knowing what motivates a
group of people and what truly matters
to them. Applying the wrong motivators,
though, can backfire. Take the example of
a North American manager transferred
to his company’s Hong Kong office. Once
there, he attempted to curb the employees’
tendency to arrive at work 15 minutes late.
The employees complied, but they also
took to leaving work exactly on time, rath-er
than staying late into the evening as they
had done before. Productivity took a nose-dive
until the manager agreed to let the
workers go back to their usual schedule.
In this case, attempting to impose the
very North American value of punctual-ity
had a seriously detrimental effect on
productivity. But tuning in to the workers’
desire to set their own hours, to some de-gree,
turned the problem around.
For an organization on the cusp of go-ing
global or an HR pro about to take on
an international challenge, the question is
how – or if – HR practices apply in differ-ent
regions, and it can be puzzling, to say
“Global organizations often strive to
offer a consistent employee value propo-sition
across their global footprint,” said
Dhanji. “Therefore, consistent HR practic-es
can be quite helpful. This requires HR
pros to practice ‘glocalization.’ ” Invest time
up front to understand what must be glob-al
(possibly the compensation philosophy
and principles) and what must be local
(the compensation mix to be competitive
in local markets).
D’Sa says that some regional differences
make it impossible – and even inadvisable
– to try to maintain consistent HR prac-tices
across all areas. But, he also says, it’s
vitally important to keep consistency in
certain areas, to guarantee and protect
employees’ basic rights to work in a ha-rassment-
free and non-discriminatory
workplace, and also to support the organi-zation’s
mission, vision and values.
It’s all about finding the right balance,
says D’Sa. “An approach that provides
some accommodation and flexibility …
would send a strong message that the
top leadership team of a global company
provides autonomy to local leadership
in managing its business and people
It would be smart, says Dhanji, for an
organization to consider input about HR
practices as early in the globalization pro-cess
as possible to lessen the implications
of potential cultural misalignments.
In some cases, though, cultural differ-ences
can throw up nearly insurmountable
roadblocks to consistency.
“Organizations have different priori-ties
as mandated by the cultural needs and
long-term visions of the countries they
operate in,” said Khan. Expanding on the
example noted earlier, he says Middle East
nationals have privileges with respect to
compensation and career growth not giv-en
“This management practice is perfectly
understood and legitimate in the Middle
Eastern circumstance,” he said. Hiring
and development policies, in this case,
would differ wildly from region to region.
HRPATODAY.CA ❚ MARCH/APRIL 2014 ❚ 19