When it comes to succeeding in a regional HR role, Genevieve Godwin, regional HR director for Asia-Pacific at J. Walter Thompson, told HRD
there are always three major areas of focus.
“Each regional HRD needs to ensure they are communicating clearly and building strong relationships with their team members and regional stakeholders,” she said.
This means being skilled in virtual communication – a quality Godwin says is of the utmost importance when managing a regional workforce.
Juggling different forms of technology is necessary to avoid misunderstandings. For example, small habitual changes such as following up by writing after making a phone call will help prevent communication breakdowns from occurring.
“When working in a regional role, particularly in Asia-Pacific, culture is always at the forefront due to the diverse mix of cultures in the region,” she said. “We need to ensure we are considering all employees when building a strong HR team and platform.”
Build experience about different cultures by asking questions, she adds. Find out about the proper actions, the right way to dress, and always ask if there is something you should be aware of. If someone is offended, make it a learning exercise.
Lastly, Godwin suggests bringing in cultural training programs for regional personnel and expats. This should include methods of virtual communication that span multiple cultures and ensure that everyone can discuss important matters without being offended.
“I always aim to have the HR team aligned where possible and independent where required,” Godwin said. “When implementing any HR initiative or supporting the agency we need to ensure there is a strong level of consistency in what we do.”
This approach can be summed up in four words: Act regional, think local.
Be consistent in regional practices, services and initiatives while bringing in variance specific to each location, she adds.
For instance, it is possible to have a regional talent acquisition policy in place while taking local labour needs into account when tailoring that policy to each country.
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