How Transformational Leadership Inspires Change

Philip A. Berry, President
Philip Berry Associates LLC

About the Author
Philip Berry is involved with global management consulting, executive coaching and training specializing in leadership development, global talent development, global diversity, innovation, team building, and corporate social responsibility and employee relations effectiveness. Mr. Berry has extensive global experience, was previously Vice President, Global Workplace Initiatives for Colgate-Palmolive and also worked for Procter & Gamble, Digital Equipment Corporation and IBM.

The entire world has been caught up in the events leading up to the 2008 United States Presidential election. The selection of Barack Obama as America’s first African American President, and his highly effective campaign, provides us with a prime example of the power of transformational leadership, and the means by which change occurs.

The notion of transformational leadership is not just pertinent, however, to the worlds of politics and the community. It is highly relevant to the corporate world and organizations as well.

While Obama’s ethnicity is obviously noteworthy and is a large part of what makes this election so significant, there is another critically important component of this moment which people have a tendency to ignore. It has to do with the transformation that has taken place in the minds of voters in the US and the hearts of people around the world.

The change that has occurred is a direct result of the President-elect’s ability to inspire change. He didn’t change the people themselves, which would be impossible.

What he did change was the way they see the world and their place in it.

Business leaders operate under similar circumstances because they also must engage employees and inspire them to feel a part of an organization.

Transformational leadership involves more than charisma and emotion. It involves more than giving good speeches and making people feel good.

In his hallmark definition of the term James MacGregor Burns coined the term transformational leadership as “leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivations – the wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations – of both leaders and followers.” [Italics original]

The leader is not merely wielding power, but appealing to the values of the follower.

In this sense, values mean, “A principle, standard, or quality regarded as worthwhile or desirable,” (Webster’s New Riverside University Dictionary).

Burns insists that for leaders to have the greatest impact on the “led,” they must motivate followers to action by appealing to shared values and by satisfying the higher order needs of the led, such as their aspirations and expectations.

He said, “. . . transforming leadership ultimately becomes moral in that it raises the level of human conduct and ethical aspiration of both leader and the led, and thus it has a transforming effect on both.”

Change doesn’t just happen. It needs an impetus. Einstein in his Theory of Relativity applied the laws of physics to matter and we can apply this theory to universal behavior. As force is applied to an object in the direction of motion, the object gains momentum and gains energy.

President-elect Obama was the force for change; he introduced a new direction that would address the needs as he saw it.

In order for the notion of transformational leadership to be relevant, three elements must be present:

1) A Clearly Articulated Vision

2) Statements that Inspire People to Connect;

and 3) A Detailed Plan to Execute.

1) A Clearly Articulated Vision
The history of the world is replete with examples of charismatic leaders who have led their nations and a cause. The names of Mohandas (“Mahatma”) Gandhi, Napoleon Bonaparte Julius Caesar, Mao Tse-tung, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt evoke tremendous feeling. The Industrial Revolution also evokes thoughts regarding the titans of industry like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell and JP Morgan who had an incontrovertible and formative impact on that era.

The vision that was articulated by the individuals in these two categories, the ability to inspire people to connect and the plans that were executed to make the vision a reality is indisputable.

In the present, we may not know the names of all of the transformational leaders who are making change in their sector, but it certainly is happening. Apple, Google, Tata Motors, Carrefour, and Toyota, for example, are having an undeniable global impact on our everyday behavior and interaction. Apple’s iPod, for example, has revolutionized the way we think about listening to music, the way we purchase music, the way we share music, and even the way we define our personal space.

The question for business leaders within organizations such as Apple is how to achieve the multiplier effect of this leadership pattern in order to bring about continuous innovation and improvement?

How do we replicate this leadership pattern at the department and team level in order to generate change in every sector of an organization?

How do we grow transformational leaders so they can rise to the positions of influence to positively impact organizational change?

Transformational leadership must occur throughout the organization, not just at the top, in order to bring about the full synergistic effect.

For example, when a CEO articulates the vision of a company, it is up to the global presidents and department vice presidents to execute the vision. But they must also be able to communicate that vision in a way which translates into local or regional needs. People must buy into the vision and relate it to “what’s in it for me.” To the extent that they do this, the overall vision becomes more compelling. This starts the process of aligning the vision and connecting it to local needs and desires.

A clearly articulated vision must have in it the elements which point to a better way for dealing with the present and the future. It must provide a context to address the most pressing issues in a manner which is innovative and compelling.

Innovative because any change strategy needs to outline what will be different from the status quo. It must be compelling because it must be believable. People must feel that this vision will definitely lead to a better way of doing things.

2) Statements that Inspire People to Connect
The most powerful visions also are those which have a few words that are easily understood and restated. This eases the communication process and enables everyone to embrace the vision as their own.

In the 21st century a brief statement is marketing sin qua non. In others words, it is essential to excellent communications.

As transformational leaders seek to communicate their vision using various venues, they begin to appreciate the marketing challenge of disseminating their message out and ensuring comprehension of their message.

In 1964 Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The medium is the message” meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived, creating subtle change over time. 21st century transformational leaders ignore the medium at their peril.

In order to give a vision the wings it needs to travel, it must Inspire People to Connect. This is when a vision really begins to come alive. It comes alive because people believe that the vision will take them from where they are to where they want to be.

In organizations it means that employees can begin to align to a better way of doing their work; reaching their customers or constituencies; and providing the goods and services which will make them more effective, productive and profitable.

When people connect on a cognitive and emotional level it begins to move them to action. This action contains the seeds for producing change. Einstein stated that “no problem can be solved with the same type of thinking that created it”. Inspiring people with a different message gives them an alternative way to approach their challenges.

It is this connective element that provides the momentum to a vision and gives it longevity.

It is this connective element that enables people to align with each other in a different way to meet their challenges. By connecting with the vision they are also reenergized to act.

When we talk about motivation this is where it begins. People are motivated to act and engage differently because they can connect to something new, innovative and inspiring.

Obama’s incredibly effective “Yes We Can” slogan is a great example of how a simple statement can encompass a lofty inspirational theme, yet still pertain to day to day action. The slogan was simple, inspirational, easy to remember, and resonated on a number of levels regardless of one’s unique personal circumstances. Furthermore, Barack Obama and his team revolutionized the way they used the internet to connect their vision to people. They provided a continuous stream of messages via mobile phone, internet, the web and countless other technological mediums in a personalized manner practically every day for two years! You always felt that the vision was on top of mind and that they were speaking directly to you. Every message had your name on it. You didn’t feel you were part of a mass communication campaign. The messages were simple, informative and compelled you to action.

Corporate transformational leaders need to embrace these same innovative techniques if they are to connect with the workforce of today.

This type of connection or engagement is crucial to attracting and retaining high potential workers.

When workers are fully engaged, a noted Gallup study of Oct 2006 indicates, they are more motivated and more productive. Specifically engaged employees work with passion and have a profound connection to their organization. They drive innovation and move their organization forward.

Unfortunately, not enough attention is paid to how people connect to a vision. They must go through a process of enrolling with the vision so that they feel it is their own.

In essence, a vision connects when people internalize it and say that it is not just someone else’s vision, it is their own. This feeling of ownership is crucial to success.

By implementing goal alignment processes, organizations can involve every department in the effort. Individual departments need to know tactically what their role is in contributing to the greater good. They must feel that this vision will definitely enhance their way of performing and interacting. When they have this ownership, then they are motivated to act in different ways.

This engagement is directly correlated to employee retention as staff will leave an organization when they can’t get their needs met, and they feel that they don’t identify with the way things are done and with the values or vision of the organization. In short, just having a vision statement will not achieve results.

3) A Detailed Plan to Execute
In order to increase the ownership process, one has to move from “what “and “why” to “how”. Transformation falls short when this is not in place. Invariably many great plans fall apart at the connect points.

A critical connecting point is a detailed plan to execute the vision. This begins to complete the circle. It is no surprise that when you have a wonderfully articulated vision, people will then want to see how it works. For many, this is the litmus test of whether the vision is a good one or bad one!

Consequently, transformational leaders must help people understand that their vision is just the starting point. They must articulate the complete process that individuals must go through to make true change a reality.

During the transition period, it is easy for people to get discouraged because the path to a new future can be difficult to see and follow at times. There must be constant communication and education along the way to keep people focused on the goal.

The vision becomes a compass leading people through the turbulent times.

Conclusion

Indeed change can happen in any organization when there are transformational leaders who clearly articulate the vision; inspire people to connect to the vision and detail the plans in order to achieve the vision.

It is this type of leadership that will bring about true innovation, productivity and employee satisfaction as organizations strive to be relevant on a global basis.

The success of the Obama campaign was not magic. It relied on a disciplined approach articulating the vision, inspiring people to connect to it, along with a plan of execution.

This same pattern can be duplicated in the business world on an organization-wide level. And if done correctly, it can yield awesome results from the entry level to the corporate suites. The challenges in front of us demand no less.

Asia-Pac Recruitment…

No Free Lunch in China

Patrick O. Courtois MBA, Principal Consultant; Blog: http://hrshanghai.blogspot.com
Orion China; Tel: +8621 6326 2790 ext 8018; M +86 1340 2170734; Skype: patcourtois76 • patrick.courtois@orionchina.net.cn

SHANGHAI, CHINA, Dec 3rd – Today I am seeing a recurring misconception about the Chinese labor market from overseas-based clients. What’s the effect?

This misunderstanding impacts overseas-designed, provisional staffing budgets and the perceived quality of China-based recruitment agencies. In short, agencies in general are being perceived as attempting to inflate candidate packages with the effect being higher fees. While some rogue agencies do this, one result is a Chinese talent cost trend catching up with international benchmarks.

China is an emerging Dragon; Shanghai, a crouching tiger…

It is very clear that China is an emerging, developing economy and officially, the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Report, dated April ‘08 (1), considers that when the measurement criteria, based on statistical indexes, including: income per capita, GDP, literacy rate, and others, are viewed against the enormity of its population. However, we must go deeper and learn some facts.

Shanghai is the economy’s locomotive, along with Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Shanghai has the status of “wealthiest” city in China with a GDP per capita above US $7,000 for 2007, however, it’s important to recognize that Shanghai is still far behind major European capitals (2). To give you a clearer picture, Shanghai’s GDP per capita is below Istanbul, Turkey (3) .

Keeping in mind the size of Shanghai’s population having over 15 million souls, you can understand that GDP per capita does not necessary reflect the reality of local white-collars, which are far from being the majority.

Also interesting, Mercer’s 2008 Worldwide Cost of Living survey (4) provides an insight into the rising costs of living in Beijing and Shanghai; both now in the Top 25. But there is a gap in the cost of living between a modern city like Shanghai and other “emerging” Chinese cities. Despite it all, Shanghai can still be considered a “cheap” city, with low business operations-related costs, minimal salaries requirements, and, reasonable living costs which remain well below costs-of-living of similar sized cities in the US or Europe.

The “Made in China” picture of low wages is still relevant today.

Compared to wages in the EU or US, employing local nationals is indeed an affordable option. Looking at Figure 1 comparison of the median US, UK and Chinese total packages (salary + bonus and benefits) on some common positions, the point is made. At first glance, it quickly illustrates the cost-effectiveness of employing local nationals, considering we are talking about the “median” or average population, of course. It quickly demonstrates that employing the “average” local candidate can still be regarded as a cost-effective solution.

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys…

No offence to anyone in particular, as this applies to pretty much anywhere around the world… But, If you take a closer look at this “average” labor market, as it is the one providing input for most official statistics, surveys and other reports that one can easily find online and, incidentally, the segment on which a lot of people would base a provisional recruitment budget upon, you get a rather interesting picture.

Simply put by a fellow recruitment specialist, “The average employee in China does not speak English, he does not work in a foreign firm, he does not think outside the box, understand western reporting structures, go to a top university, or have a chance of getting hired into your firm…” (5) .

The average candidate has also the shortest retention potential, following a simple logic of job hopping for ever shinier titles and bigger financial packages, thus leaving a city like Shanghai with a dramatic employee turnover at around 18-months and a managerial workforce with somewhat arguable overall managerial skills. If you are the decision maker of one of these multinationals, which are slowly initiating a shift toward management localization by cutting off expatriates’ budget plans, would you really consider handing over the keys to your financial, commercial or product development operations to an average candidate whom, however nice of a person, would most likely fail to properly relate to, understand or even communicate on basic day to day issues?

No money, no honey…

On the other hand, you have the candidates which are at the center of what is now known as the “Talent War” (6) . These are candidates with bilingual English abilities, 5 to 10 years of solid people and projects management experience, strong overseas exposure, the ability to think in a systemic way, whom are fully acquainted with western reporting systems, can deal with foreign clients with the highest level of service quality, have graduated from top Western universities and can leverage on the added-value of their biculturalism.

These are the candidates companies are fighting over for in Shanghai, Beijing or other tier 1 cities, with packages narrowing closer to those in the US or Europe, and sometimes going well beyond.

Figure 2 sheds some light on a more relevant picture of the Shanghai employment market (for top candidates), with key functions such as Finance, HR or Sales clearly aligning themselves on EU/US levels.

This “headhunter’s” dream can quickly turn into an employer’s nightmare, if the latter does not properly understand the realities applying to the local market: An overall talented, self-motivated, creative, and experienced manager is a scarce resource in China, and a 28 years old sales manager making above RMB 1 million (EUR 100,000) is common.

Assignments, completed by our firm (7) , regularly cover positions for Financial Controllers around the RMB 500,000 (EUR 58,000) figure, HRDs in the vicinity of RMB 700,000 (EUR 80,000) and many others, with financial packages often giving a new meaning to the common image of China as the land of cheap labor.

You need to face the facts, if you want to buy yourself the next superstar everyone else wants, you will most likely have to fork out a substantial amount for it, at least, more than your competitors.

Money can’t buy happiness…

…but you can definitely get yourself a top senior HR or Finance candidate, in China, for the right price. Sure, there are no comparisons possible between a Shanghai or Guangdong based factory worker and his counterpart in Europe, the US or Japan. China has and will continue to retain its image of “world’s factory” for years to come, with affordable labor costs and ever increasing quality standards. Nonetheless, good management, talented leaders and high potential profiles come with a high price tag, just like it would, in “Developed” economies.

Companies that will successfully implement localization strategies, in the upcoming years, and leverage on the amazing opportunities this rapidly growing market yields; are the ones currently understanding that quality, experience and skills come at a certain price, in particular in the Chinese economic capital Shanghai is.

A solid and ethical executive search firm, with deep networks, up-to-date market knowledge, and experienced consultants, is therefore a partner of choice to prevent your next hiring from becoming a time bomb, in your company’s development plan, or a pricey mishap that may not look great during your next board meeting.

Patrick O. Courtois is a Principal Consultant at Orion China, a dedicated executive search boutique, based in the heart of Shanghai, China. (www.orionchina.net). Orion China is part of an international executive search network, Glasford International, which is rated as one of the world’s top 20 executive search groups (www.glasford.com) Patrick has extensive management consulting experience in Asia, as well as European markets. With a current focus in executive talent sourcing in Greater China, Patrick engages with multinational clients in professional services, hi-tech communications and industrial manufacturing. Visit Patrick’s HR blog at http://hrshanghai.blogspot.com.

GUANXI: The Art of Building Relationships in China

Sheida Hodge
Hodge International Advisors

Contrary to the title of the best selling book “The World Is Flat”, the terrain of international business is covered with hills and valleys of miscommunication and lackluster business results. Technology has connected us to almost everywhere in the world, but the efficacy of these connections depends greatly on creating a common perspective.

Many companies fail to achieve the objectives of their international business efforts due to ignoring the impact of cultural differences on the process of working and communicating together. The forward-looking companies that recognize the challenges of global communication, and proactively implement solutions, will certainly come out ahead.

China, for an example, with its mammoth economy flourishing from under the shroud of an ancient culture, remains one of the most promising and problematic places to do business. My first business trip to China was in 1986 while working for GE. During my extensive visit, I came away with a wealth of new experiences, and two new words – Nihau (hello), and more importantly Guanxi.

In literal terms, Guanxi means “the art of building relationships.” But for Americans seeking to do business in China, this translation is somewhat misleading. The idea of forced socialization – complete with lavish dinners, gifts, and maybe even an invitation to the US for more socialization – is often perceived as a waste of valuable time by American businesspeople who want to focus on the task at hand: completing projects and making deals.

However, the reality is that a true understanding of the concept behind Guanxi will shorten the process, and will get businesspeople to the goal of successful business results much faster.

Historically, the Chinese legal system fell short on providing recourse for unfair or dishonest business dealings. If your business counterpart didn’t do as they promised, there wasn’t much that could be done about it. Therefore, smart business dealings evolved by doing business with those you knew personally, or those who came from a reputable referral source. It became very important to business success to nurture a network of trustworthy connections. By appreciating these fundamental concepts, westerners can begin to understand why Chinese are so protective of their reputation and are more cautious in dealing with new business partners.

While the concept of Guanxi derives from ancient Chinese history, its basic values still linger today. The heart of Guanxi is building a relationship of trust and credibility. This is not necessarily accomplished by mere socialization, but by communicating substantive information about you and your company – proving to your Chinese counterparts you are a reputable source with which to do business.

Viewed through this lens, Guanxi seems less like a time wasting practice, and more like good common business sense. The key is to understand and supply the right information up front. After seventeen years teaching the ins and outs of international business, I’ve boiled it down to a simply BEST acronym. These four letters represent the basics that prospective partners will want to know about you and your firm:

Brand – your company credentials

Expertise – your qualifications and level of authority

Sincerity – your demonstrated care and commitment

Track Record – your background and connections

Brand.

Their interest in your brand is simple: like most of us in the western world, the Chinese feel more comfortable dealing with large, well-known firms. Smaller start-up companies mean more risk and less comfort. Whether you represent a blue-chip firm or a start-up, be sure to let them know about your organization’s stability and other reputable clients.

Expertise.

This point speaks to you personally. Because authorities and hierarchies have dominated Asian history and culture, it is important for them to be dealing with the correct level at an organization. You can expedite the process by showing off professional credentials and demonstrating that you have the authority to close a deal.

Sincerity.

In western cultures, we tend to think of people as sincere if they’re honest and they say what they mean. In Asia, where the social structure is based more on the group than the individual, this extends beyond clarity and into the realm of having your partner’s best interests in mind. Show that you aren’t just looking out for yourself and you’ll go a long way towards creating value for both sides. Accepting their social invitations, reciprocating, and paying attention to the human side of the equation will demonstrate this point.

Track Record.

Providing references, especially from those in prestigious positions, speaks to the heart of Guanxi and can make prospective partners much more comfortable than they would have been otherwise. If you have happy clients or friends in high places, don’t be afraid to show them off.

In the end, businesspeople around the world want the same things. With a bit of preparation and understanding, you’ll find you don’t need to spend a lot of time engaging in unproductive activities. You just have to build enough trust so both sides can move forward confidently – and that’s great advice in any language.

Global Leadership Competencies

In an era when these competencies are so important, how do you assess for the ‘right’ manager style?

Patricia Shafer, President
COMPEL ORGANIZATIONAL EXCELLENCE ALLIANCE, LTD. • pshafer@compelconsulting.com

In the past few months, I’ve met with more than 300 Human Resource professionals while facilitating workshops on “Profiling the Best Organizations of Tomorrow” and “Developing Truly Global Leaders.” The focal points of our conversations ranged far and wide but one theme has been consistent. HR personnel are increasingly expected to guide their organizations in the training and development of managers with a global mindset. And they’re looking for suggestions on how best to do so.

HR managers – even at undeniably multinational firms – are realizing that they themselves need more grounding in the fundamentals of developing global leadership competencies. Moreover, they can be frustrated by the disparity of views on what actually constitutes global competence. It’s little wonder, given that some organizations have chosen to focus on a very small core set of global competencies needed by managers, and others have lists of several hundred qualities spanning multiple pages. The situation prompts HR professionals to ask:

• How do we know which managers will be successful in a multinational setting?

• What are the best assessment tools?

• What classes, coaching and experiences should we provide and to whom?

Initial Response: Consider Three Questions
My first response to these queries takes the form of three questions that I suggest HR professionals reflect upon. They are:

• Do executives in your organization want to ensure that managers are aware of the need for a global mindset, or, are they motivated to craft and enact a strategic and systematic global leadership development framework?

• Does your organization typically focus on short-term tactical training initiatives, or, is there a pattern of more forward-looking and comprehensive efforts to create competitive advantage through people?

• Are you, personally, prepared to serve as a global leadership champion, as well as recruit and support other champions embedded in the business?

By answering these questions, HR professionals are better equipped to make an important decision. As indicated by Allan Bird and Joyce S. Osland in their research on global competencies, organizations and their HR staff must acknowledge above all a distinction between preparing novice global managers to understand basic realities of work in a global context vs. striving to achieve a cadre of expert global managers with a requisite repertoire of attitudes, skills and behaviors. Bird and Osland rightly suggest that there is a quantum leap difference in capacity development for novices and experts. Accordingly, it’s important to define an organization’s global management need and intention (basic training or advanced development) and therefore what opportunities and responsibilities exist for the organization’s HR professionals.

Globally Successful Traits In cases where an organization is prepared to “go the (global competence) distance” with at least a portion of the manager population, one challenge is to assess who has the ‘right style strengths’ and who needs focused feedback and coaching. This can be frustrating for HR professionals once they realize that only a very small percentage of research on effective leadership skills has been conducted with an international outlook and or produced outside North America. The same is true of leadership assessment tools; those that are most well-known tend to be developed in the United States for American managers and then exported for use elsewhere.

Nevertheless, there is a growing body of evidence that’s been gathered over the last twenty years and points to certain leadership traits being likely to ensure multinational managerial success. General competencies around problem-solving, decision-making and general management are, of course, among them. But in many ways, these are merely foundational. Critical, higher-order traits actually lie on the “human side” of organizations and are characterized as “people and soft skills.”

Take as one example research recently published through the Harvard Business School, titled: “Innovation through Global Collaboration: A New Source of Competitive Advantage.” The primary conclusion is that firms effectively managing global innovation are able to do so because their managers operate with a spirit of multinational collaboration that is strategic, evident in how a firm is organized, and energetically incorporated into staff and process capabilities.

My colleagues and I have reached complementary conclusions based on a multinational research initiative that I co-led, titled “The Whole World at Work” (Compel Ltd., 2006). The findings underlined that successful global managers are exceptionally facile at bridging geographic, divisional and other differences because they are communicative and collaborative consensus-builders eager to listen to and integrate multiple perspectives.

And similar themes emerged in one of the most comprehensive projects on the subject to date. In a multi-year investigation of more than 900 organizations and 60 societies known as “The Globe (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness) Study,” key manager traits discovered to be universally desirable and effective included being team-oriented, participative and humane. Negatives included being self-protective and autonomous, in other words, operating from self-interest rather than for the greater good.

From Broad Mechanics to Deep Mindfulness
So, what ultimately is the path that an HR professional must take as well as guide his or her organization down in order to be globally successful? It’s to start by making sure the “tactical mechanics” of global skills education and training are covered. This includes increasing manager access to and awareness of an organization’s multinational strategies, as well as market specifics and cross-cultural training. But the more advanced and savvy undertaking is to strategically support the assessment and development of managers with a deep mindfulness and respect for how to behave on the world stage.

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International Teams

by NEAL R. GOODMAN, Ph.D., President
GLOBAL DYNAMICS INC. • ngoodman@global-dynamics.com

The Challenge

Has your organization launched global product teams? Are you developing a shared vision to span the globe?
Do you have international project teams? Is your company initiating international policies, standards and practices?

Are your international teams dealing with issues of trust, respect and competency?
Are key executives and managers working around the globe?
Are your team members from many different countries and cultures?

When International teams are formed, team members don’t necessarily recognize the impact that their different attitudes, perceptions and assumptions may have on their teamwork. Invisible cultural forces profoundly affect the team’s goals as well as day-to-day functioning. Each team member’s style of thinking and communicating is significantly affected by their cultural upbringing. Issues of leadership, power and control, decision-making, trust and respect take on different meanings and significance in international teams.

Most International Teams Work Well Below Their Peak Efficiency – Why?
The primary cause of failure in international teams is not a lack of intelligence or technical skills. Misunderstandings and differences in perceptions and expectations create a lack of trust and mutual respect which reduce productivity and effectiveness. For these reasons many organizations are providing international team building programs to those working on international teams.

Int’l Teambuilding Programs (ITP)
An organization’s international team members are the key players who determine the success or failure of the organizations’ global strategies. An ITP teaches team members to expand their thinking and communication patterns, providing them with the skills to build strong, productive, stable international teams. Effective ITPs uncover the invisible cultural domain that underpins team interactions and transactions. There must be a focus on the cross-cultural problem-solving skills that are essential in fast-paced, rapidly changing international markets.

Special emphasis should be given to the skills needed to work and communicate effectively in international teams. With more geographically dispersed teams becoming the norm, attention must be given to culturally appropriate e-mail protocols, the timing of conference calls and teleconferences, and the need for face-to-face interaction. In a successful ITP, participants should learn about themselves and their own cultural attitudes and values. They also should learn to constructively adapt to their team members’ cultural expectations and needs.

Neal R. Goodman, Ph.D. is President of Randolph, New Jersey based Global Dynamics Inc., an international consulting firm that provides training and organization development solutions to global companies working across cultures. CRN is proud to present this first of a series of articles and information on this timely and important topic.

Leadership: The Single Most Important Trait of Success

Lou Adler
The Adler Group • lou@adlerconcepts.com

Probably everyone knows this already, but it’s worth a reminder. There is one competency that overrides all others combined. I call it the master competency. In fact, during an interview you only need to assess a person for this one single competency to determine if the person is a good fit for the job. To make it even easier, you only need to ask one question to determine if the candidate possesses this trait or not.

Of course, the competency I’m putting on this grand pedestal is LEADERSHIP. But leadership has a lot of different forms, and this is where things get a little more complicated.

Up until recently, I put leadership on par with other important traits of success, but it wasn’t in my top three. Before now, my top three were competency to do the work, motivation to do the work, and team skills. From my experience, if a candidate could demonstrate that he or she had these three traits in spades, there was a 75% to 80% confidence level that the person would be a top-third performer. When I added leadership into the mix, the confidence level increased to 80% to 90% for a top 10% performer.

For definition purposes, competency to do the work means that the person possesses all of the skills and abilities required to do the work or has the potential to learn whatever is necessary. Motivation to do the work is even more important than competency to do it. This has to do with work ethic, drive for results, and interest. The most common mistake is hiring someone who is competent to do the work but not motivated to do it; that’s why motivation to do the work is so important. Team skills relate to all of the issues involved in working with others including cooperation, influencing, supporting, and listening, among others.

The reason leadership is the most important trait of them all is that it requires the collective combination of these three critical traits to pull it off. In my new model, competency, motivation, and team skills are a subset of leadership. You need them all to be a leader. If you consider all traits and competencies to be in a hierarchy, leadership would be at the top, and competency, motivation, and team skills would be on the second row.

Other competencies like organization and planning, creativity, problem solving, and decision-making would be on the third row. If your company has a competency model, you might want to develop some type of hierarchy like this. As you’ll soon discover, if you measure only leadership during the course of the interview you’re actually measuring every other competency and skill at the same time. And as those of you who have tried it out know, my one-question interview is all you’ll need to use to assess leadership skills.

Here’s the high-level take on how this is done. First, ask the hiring manager where leadership needs to be applied to be truly successful on the job. You’ll get stuff like lead a team, create a new product, overcome resistance to change, improve a process, implement a new system, solve a series of problems, or open a new territory.

For a retail floor position, leadership might be evidenced by the person meeting every customer who walks into the department. For a senior executive, it might be building a new team to change the company’s strategic direction. For an engineer, it might be leading the design effort on a new product. To be a top performer, leadership is required to some degree in every job at every level.

At some level, it’s taking the initiative to do more than required. So if you want to hire more leaders, the one question you need to ask them is where they¹ve taken a leadership role.

I’ve been doing a lot of interviewing of late for positions as diverse as a sales manager for a company that prints safety brochures, senior-level consultants for international financial assignments, and marketing executives in high technology. Once I knew where leadership was required in each job, all I had to do was ask the candidates to give me examples of where they demonstrated comparable leadership. In the case of printing safety brochures, it was developing and growing a team of super salespeople and opening up new distribution channels. For the consulting assignment, it was getting more business.

With the international investment banks and creating a new method of evaluating international financial risk. For high-tech marketing, it was leading the effort to create a long-term product road map and building the team to do it.

No matter what anybody else tells you, interviewing is easy if you know what you’re looking for. Just ask the person to give you a detailed example of something that person accomplished related to what you need done. I asked the candidates for the printing position to give me examples of where they led the training and development of a sales team. For the consulting candidates, I asked them to give me examples of where they built new business and how they evaluated financial risk. For the marketing executives, I got examples of the most significant product road maps they created. Of course, none of the people gave me the right answer right away.

Asking the question is easy; getting the answers requires a bit of digging. This is where fact-finding is critical. I needed to follow up to have the candidates give me specific details of the projects, when they occurred, the role they played, the results achieved, the plans they made, how and why they took different actions, the problems they solved and the ones they didn’t.

After digging for about 10-15 minutes, I got a good picture of how well the candidates led their respective efforts. I then compared what the person accomplished to what needed to be accomplished to determine fit.

What’s really interesting is that when asking about leadership, you get insight into everything that makes up leadership.

This is stuff like technical competency, motivation to do the work, team skills, commitment to succeed, drive for results, management style, cultural fit, attitude, personality, problem solving, decision making, tolerance for risk, communication skills, and potential for growth. Wow!

By asking the same leadership question for a variety of projects over different time spans in different jobs and with different companies, I could observe the growth of leadership over an extended period of time. You can do this if you’re hiring entry-level people for a retail store or a quick service restaurant. We did this for REI Coop, In-N-Out Burger, Chuckie Cheese, and Arby’s. We did something similar for the YMCA in hiring camp counselors.

Just ask your candidates for multiple examples of where they’ve taken a leadership role in any type of work or project. It could be school, church, charities, clubs, sports, or part-time jobs. The best people take leadership roles all of the time, whether they¹re 15 or 50.

From now on just look for leadership traits in the people you hire. Then hire those that have taken a leadership role in what you want done. The one common trait of all successful people is leadership.

To become a leader, you need to work hard, have the right set of skills and abilities, and work well with others.

However, working hard, having the skills, and working well with others doesn’t always mean you¹ll be leader. It means you’ll be a great employee.

That’s why looking for leaders who have accomplished something similar or comparable to what you need accomplished is the key to consistently hiring top people.

Leadership comes first. Everything else is second. Focus on this one trait using this one question and you’ll be as good an interviewer as you ever need to be.

The Adler Group is a training and consulting firm helping companies make hiring top talent a more systematic process (www.adlerconcepts.com). His Amazon best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 1997, 2002), started the performance-based hiring and selection movement. This was followed-up with the award-winning Nightingale Conant audio tape program, POWER HIRING: How to Find, Assess, Hire and Keep Great Talent (1998). His latest book project, The Future of Hiring (2005), describes how to combine technology, creative sourcing, and a great recruiting organization to make hiring the best a true business process. Adler is a veteran recruiter and founder of CJA Executive Search. His early industry career included general management positions with the Allen Group, as well as senior-level financial management positions with Rockwell International’s Automotive and Consumer Electronics groups. Adler holds an MBA from UCLA and a B.S. in Engineering from Clarkson University, New York.

Hire Military Vets

“The human resources market for former military candidates is underestimated,” said, James J. Hickman, President of Black Knight Recruiting. “We provide solutions to facilitate the transition process with our unique, in-depth, hands-on approach. Through no cost to our emerging leaders, we will execute a transition plan personalized to meet the employment needs of our candidates and the human resource needs of our client employers.” Through a comprehensive search process across Fortune 1000 companies, Black Knight Recruiting offers an unwavering commitment to excellence: the right candidate with the right skill set in the right position.

With years of experience on both sides of the recruiting process, Black Knight consultants draw on personal and professional experience to facilitate the transition process. After a comprehensive search, the Dallas based firm uses a multi-dimensional profiling methodology that penetrates to the core of a candidate’s strengths and leadership style to ensure a cultural and functional fit for each position.

Candidates are assisted with all aspects of the transition process, including self-assessment, resume development, interview preparation, and offer negotiation. Black Knight Consultants work with executive decision makers and HR departments to help determine personnel requirements and effectively articulate the skill sets of our transitioning candidates. Black Knight offers candidates a no-cost solution to this complex process, while offering the employers talent, experience, and leadership. “Many civilian organizations have never realized the untapped value of military experience”, stated James J. Hickman – President of Black Knight Recruiting.

Conceived by West Point graduates, Black Knight Group, Inc. was formed as a holding company which owns the controlling share in Black Knight Capital, Black Knight Consulting, and Black Knight Recruiting. To find more information about Black Knight Recruiting, please visit http://www.blackknightrecruiting.com or contact James J. Hickman, President; james@blackknightgroup.com; phone 1-214-245-4628

Candidate Selection

by BARRY KOZLOFF, President
SRI SELECTION RESEARCH INT’L, INC.

How can we fail as an international company? How can we help our competitors have a competitive advantage over us? How can we marginalize our capital investments around the world? How can we fail to manage our risk?

As absurd as these questions sound, a proven, fool-proof way to accomplish these goals which are counterproductive to the organization, is to not properly evaluate candidates, their spouses or partners and families for global assignment.

Making non-selection of personnel for international assignment an almost informal policy is not a standard practice of companies. The non-selection blind spot is universal, no country or company is immune. Vittorio Tesio, Vice President Human Resources at Fiat SpA, Torino, Italy says, “We [Italians] are no different than US companies in selecting people for international assignments. Whoever speaks Russian is the person who goes to our plant in Russia. We emphasize speaking Italian, assuming many things about their abilities, when we hire someone locally…”

International Selection is a protocol and an integrated system. An organization might not be able to do all of the following, but intelligently made selection decisions require rich, significant information from many sources or data points – triangulated pieces of information to make reliable, predictive choices. And, then, there is the task of how to manage people once the company knows their strengths, gaps, and needs. Assessment is not over with the selection decision. Like in the writing of a novel, the ultimate success of a selection process is in the follow-up – the editing.

Selection and manpower development requires a systematic approach which should include as many of the following steps:
• Background reference checks:
– Internal: performance evaluations,
personnel records, academic records
– External: work references, background/
police check
• Medical exam (drug/alcohol, too)
• A general physical
• International self-assessment/readiness
instruments:

A self-evaluation of the candidate and family’s readiness in the form of a self-guided, self-report can be a valuable investment for the success of the assignment. The benefits of a self-assessment tool for the potential expatriates and the organization are further realized through a structured interview/de-briefing conducted by Human Resources.

A cautionary note about candidate testing: When looking at candidate assessment inventories, tests, or profiles – a company should use standard, published psychological instruments, with national norms, to ensure adherence to Federal Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (1991 Civil Rights Act, ADA, Right to Privacy) and Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. Most international assessment instruments, tests, profiles do not adhere to the Federal guidelines opening companies to liability. Instruments which have been designed using a company or organization’s employee population do not adhere to the uniform guidelines. Request the vendor of the assessment tool to provide you their published research manual to decide if the results of their research generalize to your company’s population.

Candidate selection decisions should involve data from operations, Human Resources, and assessors with the appropriate credentials, academic degrees, and clinical training.

Structured supervisor evaluation instruments provide information about the candidate’s repertoire of abilities and skills and their transferability to a different business environment. Supervisor interviews provide critical information about the employee or manager’s job suitability.

Technical Interview(s): Assessment information about
candidate job fit received from managers familiar with the
candidates performance, as well as, their prospective supervisor.
Formal, International Assessment Interview and Testing: The psycho-social evaluation should only be conducted by a well-qualified assessor with appropriate academic degrees, professional credentials and certification. They should provide assessment results in a manner which makes sense to the company in terms of job fit, development and career planning, organizational and succession planning (repatriation).
Expatriate Case Studies: Let us look at an example played out thousands of times, in various scenarios. A major U.S. chemical company with decades doing business around the globe entered into a joint venture with M, a major Japanese company. The U.S. company decided to send their General Manager, John, in the Hong Kong office, to be in charge of the joint venture between the U.S. and Japanese company. A formal evaluation of John and his wife, Barb, learned that John and Barb were quintessentially “Ugly Americans.” (Strange to use words from a book written in 1958 to describe cross-cultural behavior prevalent today). John evidenced possible emotional instability and a high probability for engaging in white-collar crime. If that were not enough, standing in his paneled office overlooking Hong Kong’s harbor, delicate Chinese porcelains arranged on his desk, John said, “I’ll tell you the difference between living in Singapore and Hong Kong – the Chinese in Hong Kong are pushy and can’t be trusted.” Barb’s smiling face moved up and down in cheerful agreement with her husband’s comments.” John made his comments in a loud voice with his office door open to his Chinese secretary sitting six feet away speaking with two of the company’s Chinese sales managers. Do John and Barb lack tolerance? Yes. Do they demonstrate a deficiency in their social sensitivity? Yes. Was there a strong chance they are ethnocentric? Definitely. Did we observe gross arrogance and stupidity? Absolutely!

When company executives received the results of John’s and Barb’s assessment for international assignment suitability, and that John was recently observed making fun of Japanese cuisine at a dinner party hosted by their new partner’s in Japan – they said, “But John is a global manager, he’s lived in Brazil, Singapore, Hong Kong, and he speaks different languages.”

Someone should have told these managers that their criteria for a global manager could also be applied to Nazi SS officers who had escaped from Germany after WWII, found refuge in other countries, learned to navigate through different languages and cultures. John and Barb went to Japan with John as head of the joint venture. Three years later he was fired from the company after financial improprieties were discovered. This true story highlights not only the cost of an poor international selection it also points a finger squarely at the selection practices in general use in his company. While this man was being promoted to positions of high responsibility during his twenty years with the company, who was evaluating the managers who were doing the promoting?

Now, let’s look at Barron’s Bank of London, now defunct, brought down by the corrupt trading practices of one of its British expatriate securities traders in Singapore. Barron’s, upon moving into this line of business, hired an apparently experienced, motivated young man for its Singapore office. Dr. Alastair Macfarlane, a British consultant reported the employee who brought down Barron’s had previously worked for Morgan Stanley in London. However, Morgan Stanley had done a much more thorough job evaluating its people and would not allow this fellow out of the back room operation and on to the trading floor. Unable to advance on to the trading floor where he saw enormous amounts of money to be made, the employee left Morgan Stanley selling himself to Barron’s Bank. Barron’s loss was the national debt of most developing countries.

In a 1995 survey of international staffing and selection practices of 650 corporations by Selection Research International (SRI) for the National Foreign Trade Council in New York – 31% of the survey’s respondents reported their organizations used international assignments as a way to get rid of people. Line managers made 98% of the decisions about who got selected without drawing from any objective assessment information. Moreover, 98% of the line manager’s decisions were based on the candidate’s technical skills. 98% of the same respondents reported people failed to complete international assignments, or did not perform as well as was expected, not because of any lack of technical skills; but because of personality-based factors, interpersonal style, and family conditions.

What would stock holders do if it got out that corporations used international operations to remove people who were not liked, were recognized as poor performers, or selected because a manager in Mexico had simply worked with them five years before in Wichita, Kansas?

What we are looking for in people who can adapt to new living and cultural conditions and where the employee is a good job fit – are the characteristics, the conditions or factors which make one person or couple better than another for an international assignment. For example, what is it about a couple who have lived their entire lives in Texas, where the employee has been “Mr. Telephone Company” in a dozen small towns in the Rio Grand Valley during his twenty-five year career – potentially more successful than our pseudo-global manager and his spouse. What is it about this couple which will enable them to move to Preston, England where he will be in charge of 150 British cable splicers following on the heels of the British supervisor who has recently been let go? During their formal evaluation the Texas couple admitted “Until recently we’d never met a Jew or an Italian, and, we just got back from a two-year foreign assignment – we lived in New Jersey.” As they described their experience creating a new lifestyle in New Jersey they related how their son and daughter attended Hanukkah services with their Jewish neighbors and they invited their Jewish neighbors’ children to their home for Christmas, so that the children would understand and have respect for the beliefs and ideas of other people. As a measure of how effectively our Texan performed in the U.K., the British subcontractor requested he and his wife stay an additional two years on the telecommunications project.

Technological advances have always outpaced the ability of societies to integrate them. The Hubbell telescope peers into the dark, humming corners of the universe, and a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal reports a Brahman teacher stated unequivocally to his students the world is flat, because it is written in sacred text. There often is a disconnect between peoples’ expectations and needs, and their views of the world – whether a Brahman teaching students the world is a shimmering disk whirling in cosmic space or an executive thinking he is a global manager whirling around the world in a shimmering cylinder / jet.

“There is an old adage in personnel, if a company has ten dollars to spend on personnel nine dollars should be spent on selection,” says Dr. Edmund Gaydos, Director of Management Development and Organizational Development at Anheuser-Busch Companies. Gaydos goes on to say, “Selection is a technology (as much as financial methods and procedures) that supports every strategic business objective and tactical goal. Companies usually have all of the skills and knowledge to achieve their objectives. But require a selection system to identify the people who have these skills.”

Global Competencies Factors and Conditions Predicating Success and Failure:
There are specific traits and conditions known as “foundation competency” which predict international success. The competence of success is a constellation factors which produce “job suitability” and “cultural adaptability.” Selection is more than looking at someone as if they have a particular genetic predisposition for living in a particular country, such as a gene for London, Cleveland or Bandung, Indonesia. A person might adapt exceptionally well to a particular country, we can say this person has an affinity for a particular culture, and might be able to create a satisfying lifestyle for them self and their family. However, none of this proves the individual possesses the abilities that are necessary for accomplishing the job (i.e. the ability to maintain formal and informal relationships at post, as well as with the home organization, can sell their ideas cross-functionally, function as an individual contributor, team member or build a team; communicate with people from diverse upbringings, backgrounds, temperament styles).

The effects of improper candidate selection are more apparent and pronounced when people transfer from a domestic environment to another country; where they lose the insulating social connections of the home organization that buffer them from scrutiny.

What can companies do to ensure the quality of their global staff?
Selection technology is the central function for the identification, development, and management of the entire workforce. It comprised a series screening gates, data gathering points of relevant, significant information about the employee and his or her family. Keep in mind the employee and spouse (partner) must always be considered an inseparable unit for international assignment, whether they are considered for an assignment in Prague with an in-country date three months away, or for career development and participation in a global talent pool.

Global Selection is a System
What can companies do to reverse the Alice in Wonderland selection practices which exist today in too many organizations? Assessment and selection are elements within a protocol which includes: company-directed activities, medical screening and background checks, candidate self-assessment / readiness tools giving both the candidate and the company a heads-up about strengths, as well as, potential areas or concerns requiring greater or lesser degrees of assistance; a structured interview of the employee’s supervisor to learn about their strengths and developmental areas, and structured interviews by the receiving operations and human resources. In-depth information comes from the formal evaluation and testing procedures conducted by qualified assessment experts following the Federal Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.

Formal psycho-social evaluation enables the organization to obtain information about the individual and family related to their potential for adaptation and job suitability. Conducted in a structured confidential manner the formal assessment focused on strengths and deficiencies for customizing cross-cultural training and destination support, and provide the company a developmental plan for assignment management and career counseling. This last step links repatriation and after-assignment retention with selection as part of career planning versus making selection a simple go / no go proposition which will contaminate the entire process in the minds of most candidates. In addition, the assessor-conducted evaluation serves several functions: information for candidate selection and job fit, counseling the candidate and spouse to make a well-informed selection decision, customizing training and in-country support, and career planning and performance management.

Done correctly, much sound decision-making information comes out of an integrated international selection process. Done incorrectly, the costs to the company and to the individuals’ happiness are enormous.

The international factors and conditions predicting cultural adaptability and job suitability (International competencies):
The international competencies appear as a configuration, an inseparable group. Like a spider’s web you put a load on one strand and the entire web vibrates. The same with individuals and families for international success factors. The factors never appear in isolation; they are imbedded in a person’s personality appearing in their interactions and significant relationships.

The configuration of International factors or competencies include: Confidence and Emotional Maturity: Comfortable with oneself and taking initiative – but decisions do not cause problems for or are harmful to other people.

Tolerance: How fast a person judge’s the actions and beliefs of others. But if they are critical, they do not act in a discounting way.
Flexibility and Adaptability: Mental and physical capacities for dealing with change coping with new and novel situations.

Insight: Introspection, self-reflective, insight into one’s behaviors and motives, as well as to others.

Social Intelligence: Understanding and sensitive to the subtle, important aspects in social interactions; ability to scan one’s environment.

Interpersonal Style and Skills: Ability to communicate effectively, contribute to a team, work effectively with and through people, adopt different styles – from directive to process oriented.

Problem solving and Decision-making: Critical thinking skills, set priorities, and identify alternatives.

Intelligence: The ability to handle complex information quickly and efficiently. Responsibility: Solid set of personal values encompassing commitment to tasks, objectives, the organization, achievement, and aspirations. Requires perseverance and staying power.

Motivation: What are the drivers, the impelling anchors in a person’s life for taking an international assignment which will sustain him or her – employee and spouse. They are the anchors, the internal resources underpinning realistic expectations.

Values and Ethics: Solid set of personal values which is inclusive of other people, a moral obligation to do what is right; and a lack of calculating the personal advantages to oneself – not self-serving.

Independence: Not dependent on others for validation. Possessing the internal resources and skills for making choices and building a balanced, meaningful lifestyle.

Relationships (kind/satisfaction): Spouse or significant other, interdependence, dependents: children, parents, siblings former spouse.

Barry Kozloff co-founded Selection Research International, Inc. (SRI) in 1978 with Edmund Gaydos, Ph.D. SRI is group of international psychologists and management consultants specializing in global selection technology for expatriate and executive assessment, workforce development, assignment and performance management. SRI has five service areas: formal psycho-social evaluation procedures, four global assessment and development instruments, assessment training for corporate staff, organizational consulting: executive assessment, developmental planning and coaching. SRI’s domestic work includes designing selection systems and auditing for corporations vendor psychological assessment and testing services to ensure their compliance to Federal selection guidelines and testing standards. SRI’s headquarters are located in St. Louis, Missouri, tel: 1.314-567-6900, www.sri-2000.com.

International Benefits: Defined contribution, hybrid plans prevail among world’s leading employers

New York — Most employers offering retirement plans to supplement government-sponsored pension systems now do so through defined contribution (DC) or hybrid approaches, according to a new global guide from Mercer.

Mercer’s Introduction to Benefit Plans Around the World: A Guide for Multinational Employers was created to help global companies more effectively assess, compare and provide retirement as well as medical and other group benefits to their employees.

“Multinational and local-country employers face many pressures – such as an aging population, market volatility, and increased governance and accounting requirements – that are hastening the move to defined contribution and hybrid plans,” said Giles Archibald, a Mercer international consultant based in New York.

“While DC and hybrid approaches have understandable appeal, their popularity may come at a cost,” Mr. Archibald continued. “We anticipate some reassessment of their use as companies make more of an effort to truly understand the impact of these retirement plan designs on employee savings and retirement patterns.”

Deborah Cooper, principal in Mercer’s London office in the UK, observed, “Increased reliance on defined contribution arrangements will lead to more government intervention. This will in turn increase costs. Hybrid arrangements can balance the risks employees face by relying on investment markets in pure DC schemes, with the regulatory and financial pressures experienced by employers providing DB schemes”.

Traditional defined benefit (DB) plans remain the predominant type of supplemental retirement plan in a number of countries, notably Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Mexico, Venezuela, Finland, the Netherlands and Israel (see Table 1). Even among these countries, however, there is a strong trend toward covering newly hired employees through DC or hybrid arrangements.

Mercer’s Introduction to Benefit Plans Around the World provides extensive information on the design and prevalence of retirement, medical, sickness, disability and death benefit plans provided by multinational and leading local companies in 47 countries. This single-source, comprehensive guide also provides information on each country’s legislative, legal and regulatory climate.

Mercer’s guide summarizes key global trends, by country, as companies:

Move away from defined benefits
Raise the retirement age
Comply with new requirements for plan governance
Introduce new types of benefit plans
Grapple with rapidly rising medical costs

Additionally, it defines the mandatory retirement practices under local law and regulation, summarizes typical market practices, assesses the general pension environment, identifies opportunities and trends, and outlines recent and proposed legislation.

Mercer is a leading global provider of consulting, outsourcing and investment services. Mercer works with clients to solve their most complex benefit and human capital issues, designing and helping manage health, retirement and other benefits. It is a leader in benefit outsourcing. Mercer’s investment services include investment consulting and multi-manager investment management. Mercer’s 17,000 employees are based in more than 40 countries. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., which lists its stock (ticker symbol: MMC) on the New York, Chicago and London stock exchanges. For more information, visit www.mercer.com.

GEN Y and EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

David Friedman, president of RSI, an employee benefits firm in Mount Laurel, N.J., said; “Most recent college grads — part of the so-called Generation Y — aren’t all that focused on the benefits packages their employers are offering. They want to get a job and they want to make money. They don’t know anything about it and they don’t really care.”

“But when those Gen Yers do get situated, Friedman said, and reach their late 20s and 30s, what they will want out of their workplace and their employee benefits will be different than the so-called Generation X that came before them — and drastically different than the baby boomers before them.”

Friedman and others in the employee benefits field agree that, more than ever, families are trying to juggle jobs and home life. And while generations past have just lived with workplace rigidity, that is changing. “When you look at the generation coming up now, I think the thing that generation will value more than anything is flexibility,” Friedman said. “People want to have a more balanced life.”

Friedman said a flexible workplace may be one that allows its workers to work flex-time hours, for example 7 to 3 instead of 9 to 5, or it could offer day care so that employees can juggle work and home more easily.

Friedman said the change in expectations is because roles — for instance, gender roles — have become less rigid and there are fewer expectations for work. Plus, many workers in American society are much wealthier than they used to be and have more lifestyle options available.

“It’s no longer ‘You’re born this way, and here is what your expected role is,” Friedman said. “Today, they’re so many more choices available to everyone.”

A new study by Mercer Human Resource Consulting shows that, in fact, Gen Yers are looking for different benefits from the workplace and more flexibility. Called the 2002 People at Work Survey, that study found that employees ages 18-24 (those falling in the Gen Y category) are a lot different than even Gen X employees. It found that Gen Y employees are more likely to say their motivation at work is influenced by a flexible workplace and opportunities for promotion, not salary. The study found that 83 percent of those in the 18-24 age group were motivated by flexibility, while only 73 percent cited salary as important. Those in the older age groups were less likely to want flexibility, yet more likely to want higher wages.

“Flexible working arrangements are highly prized by Gen Y workers,” said Debra Besch, a senior consultant in Mercer’s Philadelphia office.