Page 3 - VOICE January 2014

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The world has globalised at breath taking pace,
and HR organisations within companies need to
recruit effectively across cultures by selecting
people who have different worlds in their heads
and express themselves in diverse ways.
When IKEA were recruiting in France they ran into
a cross-cultural problem. The company likes to re-
cruit people who share IKEA values – typically Swe-
dish and embodied in the down-to-earth persona of
Ingvar Kamprad (the founder). But HR were
stumped when trying to find a French translation of
the word ‘humbleness’, which is one of their key
values.
This brings to mind Ludwig Wittgenstein’ words “if
a lion could speak, we could not understand him’’, a
phrase
which
can be seen as a
metaphor
for
cultural differ-
ences. For ex-
ample, Ameri-
cans
are
brought up to
sell themselves;
so in CVs and
interviews they
may
appear
boastful
and
even dishonest
to an extremely
modest culture
like the Finns.
During recruit-
ment this cul-
tural difference
could lead to a perfectly sound American candidate
being misjudged. The same thing can happen in re-
verse. So there can be a whole world of different
values hidden under the surface of the words which
makes us misinterpret what is said.
The challenge is that our cultural values are in-
stilled from an early age. If Ignatius Loyola's famous
words "Give me a child until he is seven and I will
show you the man" hold true, all we do and say, and
how we evaluate others, is imbued with our cultur-
al values - usually without our realising it.
So how can we get through the ‘cultural noise’ to
judge the real
quality
of
candidates
who will be
able to work
and collabo-
rate success-
fully in inter-
national
teams?
Guidelines
for success-
ful recruit-
ment across
cultures
Be aware of
your
own
cultural
make-up and
understand
that what seems normal may not be at all normal
for the candidate or your overseas colleagues.
There are various online personal cultural profiling
tools on the market to help you. Two of the best-
known are the British CultureActive and American
GlobeSmart.
Understand the culture of others – ideally through
self-assessment of culturally-determined behav-
ioural styles and values and beliefs relative to other
cultures, as this goes beyond national stereotyping.
Appreciate the over-riding importance of sensitivi-
ty to national communication patterns (including
listening habits) as an aid to real understanding,
and that the impact of what is said, or not said, can
be totally different from the intent.
Recruitment Across Cultures
Michael Gates
Understand the culture of others –
ideally through self-assessment of
culturally-determined behavioural
styles and values and beliefs relative
to other cultures, as this goes beyond
national stereotyping.”
Selecting and developing a culturally-
diverse staff can help organisations
reflect and understand better the
largest growing markets and in turn
continue to be successful on the global
stage.”