Going Global Can’t Be a Catchphrase: How to Build a World-Ready Culture

HIGHLIGHTS
  • What does world-ready look like at your company?
  • How does it feel?
  • How will people know when your organization has become world-ready?
Envoy world-ready workforce

Each week, as part of VISANOW’s Global Talent Adviser guest blog series, HR influencers will weigh in on topics of global talent and workforce management and planning. This week, we welcome Charlie Judy, HR consultant and founding partner of WorkXO. 

There’s a lot of gobbledygook out there around workplace culture these days. We throw the word “culture” around like it’s important to us. But many of us don’t really take the time to even understand what the heck it is we’re talking about. It’s hard to pin down, we don’t really have a language for it — and it even makes some of us uncomfortable. So rather than talk about it in a meaningful way, we throw misinformed assumptions and catchphrases at it. We relegate ‘culture’ to some plaque in our lobby. We plaster it to our websites and scatter it throughout our recruiting collateral. And guess what: That junk doesn’t stick.

Culture is the words, actions, thoughts, experiences, and “stuff” that clarify and reinforce what is truly valued and what truly drives success at an organization.
That’s how we define culture. If all the stuff that your people experience every day doesn’t really reinforce what is truly valued and what truly drives success, then either your employees are experiencing the wrong stuff (and the culture is misaligned) or you’re confused about what you truly value and what truly drives your success (and the culture is still misaligned). I don’t know which one is worse. They both stink.

You want your company to be able to acquire top talent no matter where it is in the world, efficiently deploy employees on important assignments, and build a global workforce that drives value in a way that a local, narrow workforce could never do. It’s called being “world-ready.” And it means thinking beyond your local market and taking your talent acquisition, retention and employee deployments to a strategic level.

Something that powerful and organization-defining, then, should show up in your workplace culture. But how? Ask yourself:

  • Are global assignments central to your career development program? Have your leaders — especially your executives — spent time on foreign soil…and not just while on vacation?
  • Is it just as easy for you to hire someone who needs visa sponsorship as it is for you to hire someone who doesn’t?
  • Do you hire people who speak English as a second language and do you maybe even give preference to candidates who speak more than one language?
  • How easy is it for you to pick up the phone and dial out to a country that is not the United States? Are there world-ready communications platforms (e.g. VOIP, Skype, etc.) at your employees’ fingertips?
  • Do you openly celebrate and visibly support the customs of your sponsored employees?
  • Are you measuring and rewarding performance that aligns with world-ready thinking?
  • Does your training and learning curriculum prominently feature world-ready content?

What are you doing to clarify and reinforce as world-ready?

Start by defining what a “world-ready” really means to you. Give it language. Give it life, color and context:

  1. What does it look like?
  2. How does it feel?
  3. How will people know when your organization has become world-ready?

Don’t over-engineer it, but do some intentional work around it and make sure it’s a message that’s shared at every level of your company.

Now that you have a little introspection on what it (really) means, do an inventory — top to bottom — on the stuff in your culture that isn’t clarifying or reinforcing world-ready. Consider process, technology, rituals and artifacts, talent and structure. Notice the nuance. Make sure it oozes with world-ready.

Apple oozes innovation, Zappos oozes customer experience, and Jimmy Johns oozes fast…freaky fast. Pick your favorite “culture kid.” The story is the same.

You can say you are world-ready all you want. But you’re only really world-ready if you don’t have to say it for people to know it.


cjCharlie Judy is a consultant and founding partner of WorkXO, a tech platform that helps organizations, their leaders, and their ‘people people’ align their workplace cultures with their growth strategies.

 

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