HR from a global perspective

How many times have you been on the receiving end of a fabulous new ‘global initiative’ created by your US colleagues? It’s rolled out with lots of enthusiastic fanfare only for it to be received badly over here in Europe, as they haven’t taken into consideration cultural implications, the legal framework, consultation with works councils, translation into local languages or all of the above?

Global HR

Frustrating, isn’t it?

I’m certain all senior HR professionals that work in multinational companies parented in the US will be familiar with the stereotype of US leaders imposing global programmes and change initiatives with a one size fits all approach, on the rest of the world. (Incidentally, Donald Trump isn’t doing much to dispel this myth about US culture at the moment!). This can obviously cause a lot of frustration for non-US HR leaders and can result in failed initiatives and disengaged employees that feel their employer doesn’t understand their needs.

When you find yourself on the receiving end of the latest great idea, it is easy to feel that your stateside colleagues are wrong to roll out programmes without understanding the local markets and that they just don’t understand the complexity of employment law outside of the US (or indeed they just enjoy making your job more difficult!).

However, as HR leaders operating in increasingly global markets, it is incumbent upon us to work together with our colleagues not only in the US but across the globe. It’s only by working in this way that we can overcome cultural, technical, legal and process challenges in different jurisdictions to deliver lasting change. I would suggest we need to take a closer look at our role in that rather than directing a few choice words across the pond.

In my experience, US leaders in US parented companies often just can’t comprehend the complexity in other jurisdictions. They are simply are not familiar with the industrial relations framework and employment law landscape outside of their own country. When they learn about it, they are often disbelieving of how complex some jurisdictions can be in relation to the US.

It is absolutely true that some jurisdictions are substantially more complex from an industrial relations and employment law perspective than others. There is a spectrum of employee-centric to employer-centric employment law frameworks in different parts of the world – the US is at one end of that spectrum with it being very employer friendly, with little employment law restrictions (except in the state of California – known as the ‘France of the US’) and therefore it allows US organisations to drive change quickly and at a reasonable financial cost.

The real France, for example, is at the other end of the spectrum where the labour code, derived from a long standing socialist culture is firmly in favour of protecting employees’ rights – any kind of organisational change that will impact employees can take months of negotiation with the works councils and comparatively be much more expensive to implement than it would have been in the US. The UK lies somewhere in the middle on this spectrum with a healthy employment law framework to protect the rights of employees but with enough flexibility to enable organisations to move forward with their plans without debilitating legal hurdles or cost.

So how can we avoid these pitfalls to become more effective at rolling out global initiatives, locally?

If you have a senior team of collaborative HR and business leaders, global organisations are able to celebrate and take the best from each culture. There are some very easy ways to do this; making sure that all geographies and cultures are represented on change teams is an obvious first step; taking the right amount of time to test with a global audience new initiatives before a roll out helps to refine the end product and ensure it can meet the needs of the whole workforce. Frequent, open and honest dialogue in an environment that listens to others perspectives is the key to ensuring all voices are heard and all corners of the globe are represented.

It’s not helpful to US colleagues to continuously hear that they can’t do something because of the ‘law’ in a specific jurisdiction as often that’s simply not true. Due to this non-US HR leaders need to be solutions focussed and explain how something can be achieved within the boundaries of the legal frameworks in different jurisdictions. Never say never – just tell them how it can be done even if it will take time and cost more!

Finally, my advice to any senior HR professional working in a multi-national company is to embrace – as a core part of their role – the need to educate, educate, educate US colleagues to ensure that enough time is planned in advance to manage the legal requirements to consult and the needs of local markets when making any kind of organisational change. Have a ‘summary of employment law outside of the US’ presentation in your back pocket ready to be adapted and shared with your US colleagues when the occasion presents itself.

Working in a global environment can be challenging but it is so rewarding when an organisation takes the right steps to ensure that its people initiatives do meet the needs of a global workforce and HR leaders play a vital and exciting role in making that happen.

This is a guest article, written by Coleen Highfield, who is Vice President of HR (Europe and Africa) at MoneyGram International. You can get in touch with her via LinkedIn by following this link…

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You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

How do you tailor your CV to a job?

Tailoring your CV

Job hunting can sometimes feel like an odious long-winded task. Everything is questioned, from how you dress at an interview, to why there is a gap on your CV, to why you may have decided to go to university to study Zoology, but are now looking to focus on a career in marketing. Before the stage of being questioned is reached, however, it is always good practice to alter your CV to suit the job role that you’re applying for, as it outlines your passion for the role. But how do you do this efficiently?

1. Is it unique?
To ensure your CV and cover letter is unique for each role you apply for, it is a good idea to have a master copy that you then use as a starting point for each role. If you are applying for two different industries, then have one master copy for each. Alter the order of your sections to suit the role, it allows the recruiter to scan the CV to see that you do have all they are looking for quickly. If you are applying for a role that requires a university degree, then give this section priority and put it towards the top.

2. What words are you using?
Think about the words, especially the adjectives, which are used within the job specification and mirror them in your skills section in your CV. Put it in a different order to ensure it is not too obvious. Try to use some technical jargon that is relevant to the sector you are working for, for example, if you are applying for an HR role, ‘blue-sky thinking’ may be beneficial to use. Using these words envisages experience, as well as understanding of the sector. Also, try to not overload the CV with jargon or “fancy” words, it can cancel out your understanding and can look a little desperate.

3. Have you carried out a search?
Have a look online for job adverts that are similar to the role you applying to, so you can ensure you have an in-depth understanding of what is required in the position you are applying for.

4. Done any research?
Do a little research into the organisation you are applying for. Find out about their reputation and how they present their culture. This would be beneficial when looking at the ‘interests’ section of your CV. If the company has a ‘work hard and play hard’ culture then there would be no qualms in talking about your social interests. Whereas, if the organisation is one that concentrates on remaining professional at all times, you would then only include a select few of your interests that would suit.

5. Be Positive
Try to not be negative in your CV, it can show that you are lacking self-belief or confidence. We all have something we are working on or want to improve, turn that into a positive on your CV. For example, a job seeker may have basic spoken communication skills when applying for a HR Officer role. It can be stated that the job seeker has a basic set of spoken communication skills but with the passion to learn more.

If you think this role is perfect for you, this will show in your CV and cover letter, so ensure you apply for roles that work for you. As well as making sure your CV is concise, intriguing and interesting, the pointers above should help you to get you that dream job or least get you into the right direction. Make sure no exceptions are made, you never know when luck will strike. Good luck jobseekers!

To have a chat about your executive search, contact me at

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professionals specialist here.