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Adopting a Global Mindset in HR

Today's post comes to us from board member China Gorman. Here she shares her perspective on how HR professionals can advance their careers as they accelerate their global mindset.

As today's business environment becomes ever more global, HR professionals in small, medium and large organizations are asking how to develop the required global mindset while attending to their everyday responsibilities. Understanding the political, cultural, and legal/legislative realities of doing business in other parts of the world will give any leader - HR or otherwise - an advantage in creating lasting organizational impact and improved business results. The question is: “How can I learn and adopt a global mindset?”

Most HR professionals get focused on their local day-to-day issues and run out of time, energy, and inspiration to step up to building a global knowledge base. Understandable. Some employers will create opportunities for travel and engagement in other parts of the world, but often these experiences are saved for high potential or more senior leaders. So, how does one go about creating opportunities to learn about and experience other cultural and business environments? Here are a few DIY examples of strategies to own the development of your own global mindset. The good news is that as you remain steady in your desire and actions to become more globally proficient, your employer is likely to take notice - and take action on your behalf!

Use online resources to create relationships

Online communities are waiting for you to join! Professional associations, vendor user groups, industry publications - all have global communities of practice that you can join for free and that will support you in beginning to create professional relationships. These communities are pure gold in helping you connect with peers all over the world. And, of course, the usual suspects - Facebook and Linkedin - can jump start your networking. Starting the conversation is the hardest part of the process, but once established, these conversations can lead to the expansion of your industry knowledge, your competitive differentiators, and ultimately, your professional development. All without leaving your home office!

Invest in an international conference

No matter how diligent you are in creating global relationships via social media, you will still need to travel and meet peers face-to-face. Nothing compares to immersing yourself in another culture on the ground. Traveling to another country once a year, or every other year, to attend a conference of like-minded professionals can be the most efficient way to create this global mindset. This might seem difficult, however, there are some compelling ways to get this done. If you have to pay for it yourself, there may be advantageous tax implications. Better yet, create the business case and submit it to your boss. You might get full or partial support if you can create a compelling ROI for your business. If you're successful in this approach, add on some days to really soak in the local culture. And don't forget to visit with some of the local contacts you made at the conference. They will be thrilled to take you on a tour of their business and introduce you to other professionals! And don't forget to loop in the new relationships you've made on social media while you're in country.  

Create experiential development activities

A compelling strategy for expanding your global mindset is to invest in on-the-ground learning with a group of peers. There are a number of professional development travel outfitters that gather professional peers for international deep dives. A particularly successful such group is Nanda Journeys, a professional travel outfitter that organizes just these types of global experiences. Professionals with a purpose traveling together to learn about culture and business find these kinds of expeditions extremely meaningful. I've led a number of them (China, India, Japan, Cuba, Hungary/Czech Republic) and can attest to the power of this type of professional development and experiential learning. The journeys I co-led were all about HR in these countries and I travelled with a wide variety of HR professionals. (We have a trip planned to Singapore in November. Find out more here.)

As a case-in-point, one of the attendees on our most recent journey to Eastern Europe was a regional domestic head of talent acquisition for a large global financial services firm. She had long wanted to take on an international assignment, but was not seeing success in that regard. Part of her strategy was to invest her own vacation time and funds to demonstrate her commitment to becoming a viable candidate for an international leadership role. She believed that if she made a tangible (and visible) personal investment in understanding talent acquisition dynamics in other parts of the world her organization might take her career goal more seriously. And sure enough, within a few months of returning home, she was moved into a global role that meets her personal and professional goals very neatly.

Demonstrating your willingness to take on the ownership of your learning and being clear about your professional goals makes a difference. And if you truly want to make more global contributions to the success of your organization, you might have to take matters into your own hands. At worst you'll have a broader skill and knowledge set that will be valuable to an employer (maybe not your current one). At best, you'll position yourself for the next step in a more globally focused career. Either way, you win!

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