Tag Archives: Human resources

Why employers value intercultural skills

New research shows that employers around the world value staff who understand the role of culture at work. Source: www.britishcouncil.org

What do employers understand by ‘intercultural skills ?

  1.  Ability to understand different cultural contexts and viewpoints.
  2.  Respect for others’ and ‘adapting to different cultural settings
  3.  Accepting cultural differences
  4.  Speaking foreign languages
  5.  Open to new ideas and ways of thinking

 How do employers evaluate job candidates for intercultural skills?

  1. Strong communication throughout the interview and selection process
  2. The ability to speak foreign languages
  3. Demonstration of cultural sensitivity in the interview
  4. Experience studying overseas
  5. Experience working overseas

 What Is Your Company Doing To Develop Intercultural Skills ? 

See on Scoop.itInternational Career

Research Findings: The Value of Intercultural Skills in the Workplace

See on Scoop.itGlobal Leaders

Culture at Work: The value of intercultural skills in the workplace —A survey conducted by the British Council, Booz Allen Hamilton and Ipsos Public Affairs, of HR managers at 367 large employers…Posted on 2013/03/20 by Dianne Hofner Saphiere. See full article on blog.culturaldetective.com

Intercultural skills are crucial in the development of businesses internationally. However it is often difficult to identify employees who have the right combination of skills. Most HR managers of large multinational companies think that intercultural communication skills are beneficial to keep good reputation, build trust with overseas clients and partners, increase productivity and increase sales

The top 3 most important skills valued by employers are :

If self-training through international assignments and working in multicultural projects are encouraged, employers are also expecting that educational institutions do more to equip students with intercultural skills.

Russia was not mentioned in this study but with the fast-changing pace of the economy, it is clear that there is the same need for more formal education on intercultural skills by education providers such as:

  • Teaching communication skills
  • Offering foreign language classes
  • Availability of opportunities for students to gain international experience
  • Development of international research partnerships.

Based on my experience, not only basic rules or cultural etiquette need to be learned in context but the ability to develop strong bonds on a personal level needs emphasis too.

Cross-cultural programs should not be dissociated from corporate culture but instead used to create a “third culture” so that all employees globally feel they share the same values.

If you look at companies such as Starbucks, not only the customer experience is the same everywhere but the corporate values too.

Read more about Starbucks here : What To Learn From A Brand That Is Trusted Globally?

What Do You Think Of Intercultural Programs Offered in Your country By Universities and Business Schools ?

Increase performance through employee engagement

Read Increase performance through employee engagement via Scoop.itGlobal Leaders

Employees who are engaged put their heart and soul into their job and have the energy and excitement to give more than is required of the job. Engaged employees are committed and loyal to the organization.Torben Rick

Related article: 

Can ‘Psychological Time’ Catalyze Productivity and Employee Engagement?  on the secret to boosting productivity and improving employee engagement: psychological time.  “Time management tends to be about helping employees do things faster, or do fewer things,” Harvard Professor Michael Norton explained to Business Insider.

The group’s paper [PDF: “Giving Time Gives You Time” ] explains that the key to unlocking psychological time is to add tasks to employees’ schedules that require them to help other people.

Beyond Motivation: How to Engage Employees To Boost The Economy

English: Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone...

According to the latest Gallup survey on American employee’s productivity conducted in 201,  only 29% of employees were engaged or involved and enthusiastic about their job. In contrast 71 % of full-time workers, were “not engaged” including 20% miserable or actively disengaged. These findings are really shocking  and very disheartening. Miserable employees are simply ignored, they are disconnected from the company’s goals, often scared to lose their job, taking sometimes additional workload from a colleague who has been laid-off.

Can sustainable organizations ignore employee’ s morale ?  Cutting costs has direct impact on the bottom line but not necessarily in the desired way:

“miserable employees create miserable customers” 

For the most part the recovery of the American economy is dependent on the innovation capacity of America Inc.  If employees are not intrinsically motivated chances are very high that they are not creative as well. and won’t work hard enough as passionate people do according to  Steve Jobs in a video about the rules for success.  I cannot agree more and I have observed the power of passion in people at any level and any function of organizations and across cultures.

Passion is putting you in a state of “flow” where you ignore fatigue or hunger because you are so engaged by what you do that you ignore the time you spend on a particular activity, you are intrinsically rewarded by what you do and truly happy. The concept of “flow” has been introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi a psychologist making connections between satisfaction and daily activities in his book: ” Flow: The Psychology of the Optimal Experience“.

Being passionate is coming from the inside-out. You can break somebody’s motivation  very easily but it is very hard for leaders to inspire people to give happily the best of what they have to offer if they don’t want to and don’t have trust in the management.

High performance organizations know that engaged employees drive customer value and business performance. Good examples of such companies are Google or Zappos with its CEO’s vision of putting his people first.


Gallup measures employees’ engagement by collecting the answers of the following 12 survey items listed bellow.

If you want to engage people you need to provide what it takes for them to say YES to a maximum of the questions:

  • Q01. I know what is expected of me at work.
  • Q02. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  • Q03. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  • Q04. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  • Q05. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  • Q06. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  • Q07. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  • Q08. The mission or purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important.
  • Q09. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  • Q10. I have a best friend at work.
  • Q11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  • Q12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

The Three ‘E’s of Engagement: Engage, Empower, Enable:

  • Engage: leaders must provide a clear view of the company’s future, connect the company values with the individual life purpose,  identify individual contribution to a higher level than self .  Employees who feel good about themselves and think they belong to a team get the intrinsic motivation  to deliver performance.
  • Empower: Let people decide how to set goals, how to  get the expected results.  Increase their personal power in making decisions at all level of the organizations. The leaders’ role  is  to coach and mentor individuals and teams to remove self-limiting beliefs, provide immediate feedbacks and develop strengths while minimizing the impact of weaknesses
  • EnableProvide highly personalized support and enough resources.  Lead  teams based on matching  personal communication, behavior and management styles of each team member. Provide talent development programs.

How Do You Measure Employee’s Engagement and Creativity ?

What Is You Recipe To Stimulate Creativity and Innovation In Your Company ?

Related Articles:

3 Good Reasons For Not Hiring An Executive Coach.

Executive coaching had bad rap for years when having a coach was considered as the first step toward the exit of the company. Today it is considered as a privilege to have an executive coach and many successful executives have a coach helping them being aware of their behaviors and impact on their interpersonal communication for constantly inspire others and deliver great results.

However there are certain situations when hiring a coach is only delaying the inevitable, terminating the executive.

Here the 3 main reasons for NOT hiring  an executive coach:

1- The executive is not a role model. In my previous post I talk about how leaders must be able to influence others by walking their talking and being who they truly are to inspire followers . Some personalities simply cannot fit in the leadership functions or with such a huge energy that it is the recipe for failure. Nobody can change a person  into someone she is not. Being the best player in a team doesn’t make you the best leader of the team.

2-Drastic changes in the economic environment. Successful executives during economic growth periods know how to constantly innovate, improve processes, make strategic alliances and acquisitions, watch the competition,  anticipate for potential disruptive technologies, adjust goals and strategy to keep a competitive edge and make sure not to become obsolete. However when the economy is slowing down and businesses are declining some leaders cannot evolve.  An executive coach is not a consultant even if this person has great technical knowledge, the coach do not have the answers and  cannot be an extra brain to compensate lack of strategic thinking or vision so hiring an executive coach won’t solve the problems.

3-Lack of Integrity and misconduct. When the reputation of the company is at stake because of an executive misconduct such as sexual harassment for example. It is typically the kind of crisis when PR and HR  departments together with the general counsel must react quickly and appropriately. This is beyond the competences of an executive coach.

Executives and Coaches, Please share your coaching stories: The good, the bad and the ugly 


Have you Ever Work With A Professional Coach ?

Was It Fun and Effective ?

If you answer NO, Maybe it is time to work with a TRUE  professional coach:




More reading: Who Needs An Executive Coach? – Forbes.com.

Who Are The Most Attractive Companies For A Global Career ?

At IBM, the notion of being ‘global’ isn’t just a tag phrase – it’s the ability to engage people at every level to work effectively together across different countries, time zones, languages and cultures – Ron Glover, Vice President, Global Workforce Diversity.

As the economic downturn continues, ensuring that employees are engaged is crucial to keep workplace morale and productivity high, according to Watson Wyatt, a leading global consulting firm. The highly engaged employees tended to be the top performers by far, and had significantly lower levels of absenteeism (Watson Wyatt’s WorkUSA Survey, Feb 2009).

Globalization and innovation are key drivers for recovering from current  financial crisis and get a stronger economy.  Global managers work across a vast range of boundaries such as cultures, job functions, locations and time. Working globally and building a global career requires specific strengths, skills, attitude, experience and emotional intelligence. One very important thing is to understand the challenges of living abroad or the impact of frequent travelling if you work domestically as a global manager. Not everybody can adapt to being  24/7 connected to the global work flow and accepting the impact on personal and family  work-life balance. In  addition, you must find the right global organization that really put employees and global talent development first. Read everything you can about the corporate culture, diversity programs and any clues from insiders that will help you discover if there is a match.with your personal values and skills.

Before looking for a match, you need first to investigate what value do you bring to global companies?  for example, which language do you speak ? What are the list of countries you are interested in and why ? You cannot say I want to work in “Europe” if you don’t know which countries you want to go. There is no such thing as a country called “Europe” each country of the union have their own language, laws or business etiquette. So be specific both on your destinations and the types of work you can do that add value to the company or training to reach the required level. See previous post “How To Start A Global Career ?

The World’s Most Attractive Employers 2010 study by Universum, “the employer branding company”.

130,000 students at top academic institutions chose their ideal companies to work for. This is the first global index of employer attractiveness and highlights the world’s most powerful employer brands, those companies that excel in talent attraction and retention. The global rankings are based on the employer preferences of students from Brazil, Canada,China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, U.K., and U.S. Being an attractive employer is critical to keep a sustained competitive advantage.

1. American multinationals increase their lead over the rest of the world.

2. Employer Brands decoupled more and more from Corporate Brands.

3.Companies that help talent develop the me-brand are more attractive.

4.Perception of industry and brand are interdependent.

I selected in this article the top three trends and best business practices shared by successful global companies and 2011 FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work for®

1-Employees First, Customers Second

No happy customers without happy employees. The Indian company HCL Technologies, which specializes in IT services, decided to put its employees’ satisfaction and personal development at the heart of the company’s vision. In five years, this vision has allowed the company to secure the loyalty of its employees, triple its revenues, increase productivity and customer satisfaction, and reinforce its image. Today, HCL Technologies is the leader of its sector in India.(Sodexo, September, 2011).

Zappos ranks # 6 in Fortune 100 best company to work for and it is not a surprise that Tony Hsieh who built Zappos put his people first, at the center of the company’s core values.  Read more about The Zappos Case: Can We Get Both Happiness And Profits ?

2-Go Green

A green outlook can help firms attract and retain talent, according to the British Council for Offices (BCO).Paul Edwards, chair of the BCO’s Environmental Sustainability Group, said that a new generation of environmentally-conscious employees is having an influence on businesses. “I think younger people these days understand environmental issues a lot more, so to attract and retain talent, companies are seeing a need to deliver on the environmental promise,”

Many large global companies have implemented eco-friendly and more sustainable business practices. Bank of America for example is proving that eco-friendly operations can coexist with business growth. Bank of America runs an internal recycling program that recycles 30,000 tons of paper each year, good for saving roughly 200,000 trees for each year of the program’s operation. The company also offers employees a $3,000 cash back reward for buying hybrid vehicles. Read more about the top 25 big companies that are going green. 

3-Empower Champions

►Encourage people to be creative and imaginative

►Tolerate mavericks with creative ideas

►Promote lots of tries and be willing to accept failures (most ideas don’t pan out)

►Use all kinds of organizational forms to support experimentation (venture teams, task forces, and individual champions)

►Make rewards for successful champions and global winning teams large and visible


Related articles


  •  Are you Interested in global business management ?

  • Does your company asked you to become an expatriate but don’t know if it is the right choice for you ?

  • Do you want to live abroad for a better life-style ?

Email: aegros@zestnzen.com or Call me on SKYPE: AnneEgros

What Skills To Look For Hiring Global Executives ?

The most difficult challenge for an expat executive like a country general manager is to be able to find congruence between various opposite interests in a highly complex environment (see picture above).

The expat executive must be able to deal with local issues such  as specific regulations and laws then explain clearly the specificity of local markets and “sell” his decisions vertically and horizontally. Be able to dismantle silos in a matrix-type organization, managing up with board members, making internal alliances with peers and encouraging bottom up initiatives from multicultural cross-functional teams.

As an expat and multicultural team leader who lived and worked for 20 years in more than 10 countries for various industries and different management functions, I have seen many successful expat executives sharing same characteristics that for me are key skills to look for when considering sending people to international assignments or hiring locals at senior management level :

1- Attitude: Look for people who are leading by influence, able to federate people across cultures, able to lead trans-functional and virtual teams worldwide. Suitable personalities have high EQ and are pragmatic, open, curious, learners, risk-takers, negotiators, diplomats.

2-Cultural Intelligence: Knowledge about local customs,cultural traits,norms,social and business etiquette. Basic “survival” language skill is enough in most cases as business is often conducted in English. Don’t make the mistake to hire a local manager because he can speak English, check his leadership and technical skills.

3-Mentoring and Coaching Skills Usually an expat is sent from the HQs to share some technical knowledge or implement global processes such as performance evaluation. In each case make sure the person is  able to “glocalize”  or adapt locally  the company’s global vision, mission, values and principles, One very good example of “glocalization” of corporate culture is Starbucks

The challenge for global companies is to be able to have the right process to assess people globally both for internal succession planning, talent management or hiring new managers. Three components should be considered:

  1. Technical skills: operations, finance, markets, regulations, innovation, HR etc.
  2.  Leadership style: Top-down, bottom-up, influence, networking, lobbying, foster creativity
  3. Cultural intelligence: Group or individualistic cultures, knowledge of cultural dimensions, able to create a third culture team
%d bloggers like this: