In its latest Hays Journal, out this week,the recruiter explores the growing importance of communication in international people management. Says Chris Mead, Regional Director of Hays in South East Asia: “For business leaders in an increasingly global, 24/7 environment, how they communicate with a multi-lingual and multi-cultural team, located across different time zones and markets, is increasingly important and critical to business success.
“Even the most globetrotting manager cannot be everywhere at once. The world of work is increasingly complex and in our experience of recruiting world-class leaders, strong communication skills are vitally important in a successful leader. They allow a leader to remain attuned to the different cultural and societal expectations of global teams through regular contact, while keeping in mind regional sensitivities and market differences.
“This includes being aware of how what you are saying is perceived by others, especially if English is not their first language.”
There has been some debate about whether such skills can be taught. ”Certainly it requires multiple interventions over a period of time,” says Chris. “It’s also about bringing people together – networks are hugely important to learning, while ongoing leadership and talent development are also critical.
“Leaders can develop the skills and qualities necessary to build, engage and foster team spirit across different time zones and geographies. Many organisations run their own diversity and inclusion training programmes for managers, with extra programmes offered for those likely to work with staff across geographies.
“This includes managing different ways of working, such as differing leadership and cultural styles. Coaching and training in effective communication techniques, such as the danger of ambiguity, the need for clarity and the benefits of picking up the phone or even getting on a plane, are also essential. How you communicate is vital.
“For example, at Hays we run a global leadership development programme for top managers. This programme combines classroom study with executive coaching and virtual learning.”
Hays also warn against relying on technology alone for communication. “Although technology plays an important role, both in training and day-to-day communications, it should not be used as a substitute for personal relationships. Networks are hugely important to learning and sharing the experiences of international leadership.”