May 16, 2008

MNCs struggle to manage talent says McKinsey Quarterly

From McKinsey Quarterly (registration reqd.)

A McKinsey survey of managers at some of the world’s best-known multinationals covered a range of sectors and all the main geographies. Our findings suggest that the movement of employees between countries is still surprisingly limited and that many people tempted to relocate fear that doing so will damage their career prospects. Yet companies that can satisfy their global talent needs and overcome cultural and other silo-based barriers tend to outperform those that don’t.

The responses confirmed impressions from the interviews that companies now struggle on a number of talent-management fronts, such as achieving greater cultural diversity, overcoming barriers to international mobility, and establishing consistent HR processes in different geographical units

Participants cited several personal disincentives to global mobility, but one of the most significant was the expectation that employees would be demoted after repatriation to their home location. “Overseas experience is not taken seriously and not taken advantage of,” commented one senior manager. “Much valuable experience dissipates” because companies have a habit of “ignoring input from returnees, and many leave.” The quality of the support for mobility a company provides (for instance, assistance with housing and the logistical aspects of a move) also plays a decisive role in determining how positive or challenging an overseas assignment is for expatriates.

Well, looks like some countries like India don't really keep up with that trend. Overseas exposure is still looked at with a certain expectation. However there are country specific skills for some functions like employment law related for HR and financial accounting practices for Finance that an expat would need to learn.

On a different note, if the expat is relocating from a slow growing economy to a hypergrowth industry in India (like telecom, retail or insurance) then the experience is actually of little or no use, and can also be counter-productive. The person might need to go through a very long unlearning and learning phase.