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Emerging Market Talent Management: Trust Tried and Tested or Explore New Approaches?

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As the globalization of business continues to unfold, the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are now considered mature global growth engines – and sources of business talent. In their place, countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and Vietnam have taken up the mantle of emerging market leadership. The shift in emerging market roles and expansion of marketplace players has profound implications for talent management. The traditional “north-to-south” model of extending developed-market practices into emerging markets is being challenged by “south-to-south” and “south-to-north” strategies, which aim to capitalize on the explosive growth in economic activity and available talent around the world. Can established global enterprises continue the talent management practices that have contributed to their success through the years, or is it time to consider new approaches?

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Technical skills are abundant in emerging markets.
Academic institutions in emerging markets are producing an ample pool of technically skilled graduates. With that big of a talent pool, why worry about anything but filling technical gaps?
Technical skills aren't enough; leadership and communications skills are needed, too.
Certainly, emerging markets are producing large numbers of graduates with highly developed technical skills. However, technical skills alone may not be enough. For many jobs and certainly for future leaders, being a productive, contributing employee requires developing the abilities to manage, work in teams and communicate and report effectively up and down the organization. Companies may benefit significantly from investing in leadership and communication skills training that reflects the values of the global organization, yet addresses the needs and culture of recruits in each market.
Existing HR functions in emerging markets are sufficient – they've been in place for years.
Years, or in some cases decades, of operating globally has led many companies to establish substantial human resource functions in emerging markets. So why are changes necessary? The efficiency and effectiveness of these operations could obviate the need to develop or adapt talent operations for the south-north and south-south dynamics and incur the accompanying expense.
A more globally aligned talent management infrastructure may be needed.
Having human resource standards, processes and programs in place in emerging markets is important, but not enough. For example, in a company with offshore manufacturing operations, the scope of HR activity could be limited to compliance-based functions such as making sure forms are filled out, payroll is distributed and safety checks are completed. But building a talent management infrastructure that executes global talent strategies yet is tuned to the market and helps attract and develop the kinds of talent you need is essential to competing in global markets.
Think global rewards.
The growing pool of talent in emerging nations is helping create a buyers’ market for companies staffing up to expand their global presence. In this environment, there’s little cause to tailor rewards programs to different markets.
Think global but reward local.
Different desires can motivate people in different countries. Beyond fulfilling their remuneration needs – a largely universal incentive – workers in some markets may care deeply about other job attributes, such as job titles and promotions. In other situations, work-life balance or the opportunity to work in another country may be highly valued. It is important for rewards programs to reflect the particular expectations and norms in different locales where a company does business.
Global cultural consistency is paramount.
As business becomes increasingly global, it is important that companies and their employees, remain true to the organizational culture and practices that have helped propel their success.
Local variations on global culture can strengthen a brand.
Companies certainly need to be operationally, culturally and ethically consistent. But adapting to local business norms, practices and relationships is also important. Here again, effective talent management can include making the investment to help both local and expat employees understand and respect how business is done in particular markets.

My take


Tom Morrison, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Economic and demographic trends suggest that emerging markets will continue to grow as a source of global talent. Forward-thinking business leaders recognize the implications of this trend and are building business and talent models that capture the energy of this growing talent base. However, many are struggling with this dramatic shift in the landscape, as I and several colleagues described in a recent Deloitte Business Trends article “Emerging market talent strategies: Creating an effective global talent model.”

That struggle is not surprising. Adapting to the south-to-north and south-to-south world is complex and potentially expensive. It is a journey without antecedent, making it difficult to fully comprehend the maturity curve that companies must traverse to operate effectively within the new global business models.

That said, there are steps companies can take to prepare for this shift from a talent management standpoint. First, it’s important to give adequate attention not only to the people aspects of the transition, but also the process and technology aspects. For example, continuing advances in data analysis can be applied to talent decision-making. An analytics-driven approach that helps build the business case for necessary decisions can be highly beneficial. Hard data from emerging and other markets around the world can replace guesswork with facts regarding the resources needed and how to develop and deploy them.

It will also be important to focus on developing talent management leadership in emerging markets. Identifying and nurturing people who can take the reins in the transition to the new world of global business will be critical to capturing opportunities.

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Library: Deloitte Debates
Services: Consulting
Overview: Strategy & Operations; Human Capital


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