Mon, Dec 19, 2011
Feliz Navidad. Merii Kurisumasu. Oh, and a Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa greetings too.
And wishing you a wonderful Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a beautiful Solstice.
Anyone who’s trying to become a global employee needs to get comfortable celebrating holidays and workplace rituals as varied as Ramadan (a month of daytime fasting in Muslim countries) to Boxing Day (a Canadian holiday on Dec. 26) to Diwali (the Indian festival of lights and happiness).
If you’d like to work in your corporation’s office in Barcelona or Bangalore or Brasilia, “raise your hand” and make your interest known, said Shafiq Lokhandwala, chief executive of NuView, a human resources software company.
He hears from his clients, including many international companies, how difficult it is to choose the right people to send on overseas assignments, and then to keep them engaged once they’re there.
Showing you’ve got what it takes to live and work in a foreign country can start with your approach right now, no matter how American your cubicle and coworkers are.
1. Adaptability and Openness:
Take your team to the new Vietnamese restaurant or Haitian street festival. Learn about international festivals, holidays and traditions. Also be open and willing to change based on cultural nuances, so that you’re not jamming American approaches into their world.
2. Good Communication Skills:
Show your ability to talk to a wide variety of people – especially clients and people who report to you. If you’re bilingual that “makes all the difference,” he said.
If you’re not, you will need to start to learn a second language targeting the country where you hope to work.
It may be time to sign up for Rosetta Stone or a community college language class.
3. Understand the Company’s Products and Strengths:
“Know your business well,” he said, including its value proposition. The better you know and can sell your company and its products, the better you’ll fare in a doing that in a new location.
This relates to openness but is more active. Learning about new people and places and customs can bring rewards to the individual and their employer. Ask questions. Discover the whys and where it came forms.
People who open themselves up to local cultures and people are more likely to obtain good information and answers useful to their company, he said.
In a blog post, Stacie Nevadomski Berdan suggests some of the same traits are important – plus thriving on challenges and savoring change and new places.
Berden, a career coach and author of the e-book Go Global! Launching an International Career Here or Abroad, said you can build your “global brand” through joining international organizations and language clubs, by volunteering abroad and by following global business news and trends.
Lokhandwala’s company is opening an office in London next month, and he chose as its head a product manager who speaks both Spanish and French. “She’s a stellar employee. She can represent herself very clearly and succinctly to anyone,” he said.
She’s also very excited about the move to the United Kingdom. That’s another trait that will open doors to opportunities overseas.
Vickie Elmer regularly contributes articles on careers and small business to the Washington Post. She has collected a slew of journalism awards, large and small.
Her career and workplace articles also have appeared in Fortune, Parents, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, the Financial Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsday and many more.