Serious staffing errors in global organizations

Global companies establish offshore operations in many configurations.This post relates to Sales and Service Organizations, which are set up to sell and service the products to the local consumers in various geographies.

My experience is that typically,inexperienced companies may chose local management who are “user friendly” for Corporate Headquarters: good English; possibly US educated, risk takers willing to promote the companies’ emerging products and “manage the customers’ expectations” until the product stabilizes.

Very often, due to these very characteristics for which they were chosen, this type of local management may have a less than adequate interface with the local clientele, especially with government and public sector utilities. The clients may see this type of management as having gone native with their HQ, reckless and out of touch. In some cases, the high level of English of the local will even alienate the local client.

I was witness to many cases when a product expert came from HQ and local management served as translators. The client (highly ranked) was highly embarrassed by his poor English, and lost face when someone from the  local vendor spoke such good English. (I had recommended use of a translator for this very reason, yet my advice was ignored for budget reasons.)

My suggestion is always to chose local management who can handle the customer, and then align HQ to deal effectively with this managerial diversity.

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One thought on “Serious staffing errors in global organizations

  1. Dear Allon, interesting experience of yours. Have several similar examples. One that is equally important, and targeting your dilemma, is the hiring of “overseas Chinese” for instance. What I mean by that is to hire, as you say, highly educated and English speaking Chinese people who has been studying and living abroad from their early teenage, and where the person has lost contact with reality, i.e Chinese reality of today. Locals see him/her as a stranger and this stranger claims and tries to behave like a local and this creates mistrust. Foreign companies do prefer good english speaking staff and I can fully understand but in many cases it’s totally wrong to hire on language skills only. The level of English speaking in mainland China is getting better and better and number of people studying and “caring” about their english skills is increasing rapidly.

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