Misaligned Human Resources: A Fatal Mistake of International Business
Having the right resources is important in any business situation. When there is geographic distance between you and your clients, it is even more important. The importance raises exponentially in an international environment. Differences in legislation, culture, language, and business practice make it even more important to have the right mix of resources.
Unfortunately, this distance also increases the opportunities for resource misalignment. Misalignment is not just a question of having the wrong people in the wrong place (misallocated resources). Misalignment also surfaces from a potential lack of direction, clarity of intent, and an organizational structure that is not fit for purpose, making it difficult for people to stay focused if not making it easier to lose focus altogether.
Like everything else in business, international success depends on the right people in the right place at the right time. ‘Right’ also needs to be further qualified as having a deep understanding of the local culture and, if relevant, the home culture. You need people in place who can act as bridges between the home business practices and the local business practices. It goes beyond speaking a language; it is understanding how people interact with each other, how they work, and how they conduct business. Depending on the role, you need people who understand the complication of long-distance communication and leadership that understands that they may need a modified management structure and approval process that is fit for purpose to do business internationally and across time zones.
Think of it as if you were building a suspension bridge between the home office and each of the markets where you are selling. You need one pylon of the bridge at the home office and the other in the local markets. Both pylons need to be stable, aligned and able to support their share of the cables that keep the bridge open.