A Different Sort Of Talent -Emerging Markets
May 1, 2015
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A Different Sort of Talent – Emerging Markets
The emerging markets for many companies offer exponential growth opportunities, but not without risk, and for many businesses is the wholly grail offering the opportunity of untapped natural resources or a growing consumer environment alongside population explosion. However such rewards have historically been the elephant graveyard for businesses and investors alike due to the inability to understand, operate and tolerate different business culture. It goes without saying that successful business leaders within these markets often have different competency profiles than those from more mature markets, and businesses therefore need to evaluate individuals using different criteria.
Pre-Madonna’s need not apply
Some people can be a little too precious and not flexible in anyway, for example the need for the right pen, their own coffee mug etc., we all know one of these. However in all seriousness the ability not to adapt and fit in, will cause friction and confrontation leading to early resistance. There is often a need for change and any such approach must be married with local culture to ensure it is understood and can be assimilated with good support of the local workers. Situations and people politics need to be nurtured and nurtured in the right way, throwing your dummy out over trivial matters will not help matters.
Think Strategy but act on the ground
A statement made by one of my clients fits well to the emerging markets individual. Think strategy but act on the ground is about not sitting in the office in their ivory towers. Successful emerging market talent is typically an individual with an ability to think and then execute and happy to get into the thick of it. Often the support network or level of expertise does not exist to the same levels and the individual therefore needs to be pragmatic and get the most out of what they have. This is only achieved through getting your hands dirty which then has a knock on effect of really getting to grips with the issues and challenges more quickly, and applying resolution.
Robustness of mind
The simple things can take twice as long and the acceptance of this equilibrium is often prevalent, “this is how it is and how we always have done it!!” As a result an individual can be drawn into this lack of forward momentum and loose the energy and drive that you recruited them for. At the top of my list when recruiting must be a robust mind set. Without this, the very skills and abilities you recruited them for will never be fully realised and inertia will set in. There are different ways to measure this and includes 360 feedback, previous track record in such environments or even the scientific approach with MTQ 48 psychometrics. Whichever you use make sure that this lies within your competency matrix and that it is validated.
What happens when your leader moves on? Successful companies in the emerging markets embrace the lack of local skills sets and knowledge and develop their own creating localisation of their business and workforce. This has two effects, one is ensuring the sustainability of the business long term in the local market, and the other is reducing cost as EXPATS can be very expensive. Some even go a step further and rotate local employees into their international business only later to repatriate them using them as a mentor framework and ensuring transfer of knowledge. However throughout this whole process the glue that holds this formula together is the mentor. The mentor ensures empathy, training and develop of their teams, often putting someone else’s needs and priorities above their own.
Having the right attitude
Such opportunities are a privilege in this day and age. With growth relatively low in the western world, the chance to work in environments with different cultures and to create sustainable employment and high growth businesses, should be an opportunity to relish and not one that is regarded as anything less. Yes, allow for the apprehension and the information gathering elements, but then it needs to be go forward and can do attitude. If not, you have the wrong person.
So when looking at your talent needs in emerging markets you may need to rip up the guide book and start again. In emerging markets a ‘different sort of talent’ is more than often successful than the archetypal individual that works well in a developed market surrounded by their comforts.