[lg policy] Instituting a Corporate Language Hiring Policy Is Easier than You Think

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu Jan 4 11:08:46 EST 2018

Instituting a Corporate Language Hiring Policy Is Easier than You Think
Posted by Rebecca Ray
<http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/AnalystView.aspx?AuthorID=11> on January
3, 2018  in the following blogs: Best Practices
<http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/Default.aspx?tabid=63&BCatID=74>, Business

How do you decide whether potential employees need to understand, speak,
read, and write the same language that’s used at company headquarters?
Which criteria should human resources (HR) and hiring managers apply when
evaluating potential hires who will work out of regional offices? Based on
recent consulting and advisory sessions with global companies
here are four pointers to help you develop hiring profiles for
international staff:

   1. *Integrate four types of fluency into decision-making.* These are
   listening, speaking, reading, and writing in the corporate language. Not
   all job functions require expertise in all four areas. For example, app
   developers in Romania may need only to read and write well enough to
   produce code, e-mails, and documentation in English (or whichever language
   your company mandates). However, the in-country marketing team in Brazil
   has to be fluent in all four areas because it participates in weekly calls
   with teams all over the world and reviews corporate campaigns and videos
   for local adaptation.

   2. *Identify what each employee group must accomplish.* Their job
   functions will determine how articulate they need to be in your corporate
   language. Will they participate in conference calls with headquarters,
   other offices, or partners worldwide? Will they work daily with
   non-localized back-end systems? Even those with less frequent or minimal
   interactions in your common business tongue, for example, local cleaning or
   sales staff, will need some training in the corporate language. To raise
   them to a minimal level of proficiency, provide training videos, short
   manuals, or access to online language courses as employee benefits.

   3. *Map out typical communication paths.* Not all e-mails, conference
   calls, webinars, and presentations originate from headquarters, especially
   as you expand. To encourage collaboration, in-country offices and partners
   must be able to communicate between themselves, as well as with the home
   office. In that case, it’s usually most effective for interactions to take
   place in the corporate-mandated lingua franca.

   4. *Create use cases for internal systems.* These will enable your
   company to determine whether it requires localization or enhanced training
   materials. For example, if salespeople in Japan and China will use the
   corporate-wide CRM system, this system must – at a minimum – be
   internationalized to accept local-language characters, address formats, and
   telephone numbers. Depending on the importance of the markets in question
   and your chosen profiles, you may opt to localize some – or all – of the
   corporate systems in the future. However, you don’t necessarily have to do
   that for the first round of hires.

Don’t get hung up on the requirement that all employees must speak the
language used at headquarters. Identify scenarios where communication in
the corporate language is expected – as well as where it may not be
required. Assess the degree of fluency in speaking, reading, writing, and
listening separately for each job function. Expand your hiring sources and
validate fluency claims by candidates. Following these guidelines and
planning for hiring profiles to change over time will make your corporate
language policy decision-making much easier – especially for monolingual
hiring managers and HR staff.

Related Research
Establishing a Corporate Language Hiring Policy
Keywords: Enterprise process globalization
<http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/Blogs.aspx?KeyWordID=168>, Global
workforce development
<http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/Blogs.aspx?KeyWordID=169>, Language
learning and education
<http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/Blogs.aspx?KeyWordID=112>, Language
policy <http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/Blogs.aspx?KeyWordID=142>, Language
proficiency testing
<http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/Blogs.aspx?KeyWordID=111>, Staff
training and education


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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