How to Leverage HR for Business Expansion in Foreign Markets
One of the most exciting times in the history of any business is that point at which they recognise the need to expand to a foreign market. Until this point in the company’s history, they have had no presence in that market yet have recently recognised a need they can fill. It’s exciting in that entering a new market abroad can more than double current profits, but the road ahead isn’t going to be free of obstacles. This is where you need to leverage the HR department you’ve come to depend on here at home. Consider some of the ways HR can be the foundation upon which a new market is built.
It’s All About the People
Whether you are seeking to understand your market here at home or are looking to expand to an emerging market abroad, it’s vital to realise it’s all about the people. Not only are your employees important to your growth but a solid understanding of that market is vital as well. This is something that is in the scope of what HR does on a daily basis.
Although there was a time in the past when HR, Human Resources, was only responsible for recruiting, training, and offboarding employees for an organisation, that is no longer the totality of what HR does. The human resources department is responsible for anything and everything involving people (humans) and this includes everyone from staff to customers to vendors and lenders. If there is a person involved, HR is a touchpoint for those people.
Whenever a company is entertaining the idea of expanding to new markets, it will often fall to HR to provide data analytics and potential strategies to administration. This often involves the board of directors, and in this situation, the director of HR is the liaison between the HR team and the board.
A director of HR often holds a minimum of a Master’s in Business Administration. As such, this professional has a sound background in business principles and practice and is thus capable of making recommendations to the board.
At this point, it is the current HR manager that works directly with the board in establishing a new presence abroad, but at some point, an HR director or manager will need to be named for the new location.
Talent Rising Through the Ranks
Many HR directors obtained their graduate degrees from highly ranked programs such as the Aston University MBA course of study. This can be completed fully online, allowing an HR professional to work up the corporate ladder while using their newly found knowledge base in the course of their daily duties.
As mentioned, at some point an HR manager will need to be named for the new location and the best way to find that talent is probably going to be by promoting team members within the company. Any HR team member with the required amount of experience could apply for the opportunity to act as a temporary interim HR manager until a permanent director can be named.
There are various reasons why you might want to name a current team member to this new position, even if they have no connection with the market you are going to enter. This is where the knowledge they gain through an online program like the Aston University MBA comes in quite handy.
Creating an HR Team Abroad
An HR manager will also understand the need to hire local talent. There may be language barriers to overcome as well as customs not observed in the company’s country of origin. Although the temporary HR manager may not be familiar with local customs, they can be adept at hiring assistants who can advise and translate when necessary for the current department manager.
At some point, a more permanent decision will need to be made on naming an HR manager, but again, it is usually better to name someone from within who has a solid understanding of the company’s mission statement and business model.
Whether your company sends your current HR manager to oversee the development of the HR team in the new location or a valued employee relocated abroad to act in this position, it is vital to have a local HR team on site.
The Importance of Working with Local Talent
Although an organisation can collect and analyse data online, there is nothing quite like having a sound understanding of the business as well as being immersed in the culture being served. Ideally, this would be someone who has a history with the company and a cultural background in the new market.
It is suggested that job interviews be handled locally, and if an HR director is not well versed in local business customs, a liaison can be appointed to make recommendations to the current acting director. Whenever a company enters a new market, it is imperative that strong relations with the local community are achieved.
Not only will your organisation need talented staff, but it is vital to hire recruits with the willingness to work as a team. This might be difficult in a new location, but with the combined efforts of a committed local and an experienced company HR manager, a new team is just on the horizon.
A Final Note on Expansion Abroad
One of the things you might want to investigate is how other companies and corporations undertook expansion in new foreign markets. For example, the fast-food giant from the U.S., McDonald’s, has a presence in over 100 countries around the world. How did they enter so many markets successfully?
Bear in mind, it didn’t happen overnight, and the corporation probably began building an expansion model based on successes and pitfalls observed each time a new location was added. You may not be setting your sights on 100 new markets, but you can still learn from the successes of others.
One thing you can depend on is that each time a market was identified, HR probably had a huge role in analysing potential as well as providing much-needed advice to the board. That’s exactly how you can leverage HR for business expansion in foreign markets. Trust their expertise.
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