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Six Principles of Effective Global Talent Management

One of the biggest challenges facing multinational companies is building and sustaining a strong talent pipeline. To learn how leading multinational companies are facing up to the talent test, the team of authors examined both qualitative and quantitative data at leading companies from a wide range of industries. The research drew on 18 in-depth case studies, including IBM, General Electric, Procter & ; Gamble, Shell, Siemens, IKEA, Infosys and Samsung.

The companies the authors studied held two distinct views on how best to evaluate and manage talent. One group assumed that some employees had more “value” or “potential” than others and that, as a result, companies should focus the lion’s share of corporate attention and resources on them; the second group had a more inclusive view, believing that too much emphasis on the top players could damage morale and hurt opportunities to achieve broader gains.

Although organizations must pay attention to recruiting, employee development, performance management, compensation and reward systems, and retention, the authors found that competitive advantage in talent management doesn’t just come from identifying key activities (for example, recruiting and training) and then implementing “best practices.” Rather, they found that successful companies subscribe to six key principles: 1) alignment with strategy, 2) internal consistency, 3) cultural embeddedness, 4) management involvement, 5) balance of global and local needs, and 6) employer branding through differentiation. Adopting a “set of principles” rather than “best practices” may challenge current thinking, but the authors argue that best practices are only “best” in the context for which they were designed; what works for one company may not work in another. The principles, by contrast, have broad application.

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