HR Management

What are the characteristics of employees that are suitable for global positions?

As Japanese companies expand their business overseas, there is an increasing need for global human resources that can play an active role outside of Japan. However, many companies have established overseas offices without considering specifically what kind of personnel are desirable for their business and without a firm human resource management strategy in place.

We will examine what capabilities are required in global human resources and what aptitudes need to be acquired whilst considering the direction of the company's human resource management strategy.

What is Global Human Resources?

What are the qualifications and abilities required of global human resources? The government's Council on Promotion of Human Resource for Globalisation Development established in 2011 classifies the requirements of global human resources using the following three elements:

Element I: Language Proficiency & Communication Ability
Element II: Independence & Aggressiveness, Challenging Spirit, Cooperation & Flexibility, Sense of Responsibility & Sense of Mission
Element III: Understanding of different cultures and the Japanese identity


In terms of the language proficiency & communication ability of Element I, the ability level of global human resources is summarised in stages:

1. Overseas travel conversation level
2. Daily life conversation level
3. Business documents & conversation level
4. Bilateral negotiation level
5. Multilateral negotiation level

The Council on Promotion of Human Resource for Globalisation Development recognises that the number of human resources with level 1 ~ 3 proficiency is expanding and believes that the issue is in developing human resources with levels 4 and 5. For that reason, it is important for candidates to seek overseas education and experiences from their early teens to their 30s. It is recognised that language skills and overseas experiences remain an issue, as the level of English amongst Japanese workers is low in comparison with the rest of the world, and the number of foreign students is decreasing.

In a questionnaire targeting middle managers and above, who have an overall understanding of global human resource management, issues for global human resource management at head offices in Japan included language education, global business skills education aside from language, and the selection and development of next-generation leaders.

In light of the above, global human resources need people with overseas business experience, whilst having language and communication skills as a prerequisite. However, companies may have different standards of excellence, so it is important to explore this further. According to the previous survey, more than half of the companies regard understanding global common talent and management as an issue.

What makes a suitable candidate for global human resources?

Simply put, it can be said that those with language and communication skills are suitable as global human resources, and those without those skills are not. However, this is not enough to understand the required aptitude for global talent.

According to a survey of middle managers and above, staff who can understand people who think differently from themselves are highly valued, this being a feature that is required for global human resources. On the other hand, those who cannot understand people who think differently are considered to be incapable of playing an active role in global human resources. In addition, reasons such as a lack of access to diverse human resources, lack of skill in languages, unwillingness to accept different values, and disinterest in overseas are cited as barriers to employing strong global human resources. 

It is clear that many companies believe that the aptitude for becoming a global human resource cannot be determined solely in terms of business performance. When it comes down to it, managers cannot consider staff members for overseas roles if they have little to no interest in different cultures, regardless of their performance in the business.

To realise optimal staffing

How can we optimally allocate human resources overseas based on the skills and aptitudes required for global human resources? It is of course important to select human resources who are suitable for global human resources from Japan, but the key is in how to implement consistent human resource management within the company.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, global human resources management refers to the development of a global standard of HR Strategy to optimise cross-border businesses. He points out that there are two management concepts in overseas offices: control and localisation.

Control refers to the treatment of global human resources and the organisational management of overseas branches. On the other hand, localisation refers to measures such as preparing high salary standards to improve competitiveness in certain areas of the business. It is believed that the strength of control and localisation will change the independence of overseas offices and their relationship with the head office. Thus, the human resources management system might be an individual system for each country, a common system based on the one in the head office, or a globally common system.

If you want to produce a large number of global human resources, you need to globalise your entire human resource management, including recruitment and evaluation. Instead of always sticking to Japanese methods, companies may need a human resource strategy based on global standards. For example, based on the global salary system, we could localise by taking local salary standards into account.

Identify the types of people you want and develop strategies for hiring them

The skill sets required as a global human resource may vary depending on the company's strategy, size, and the environment in their overseas offices. First of all, it is necessary to clarify the company’s requirements. Then the head office and overseas branch offices must work together to determine what recruitment strategies and training methods will be used to produce and develop such global human resources.
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