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Global HR

Being Global: How to Think, Act and Lead in a Transformed World

Being Global: How to Think, Act and Lead in a Transformed World
By Angel Cabrera and Gregory Unruh
Harvard University Review Press, 2012
224 pages
List price: $29.95
ISBN: 978-1-4221-8322-9

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*This book has been approved for HRCI Recertification Credit.

Guides to global management often focus on learning the local cultures of employees and figuring out how cultural differences should influence management styles. But in Being Global, the focus is on the individual manager: Global leaders are made, not born, say authors Angel Cabrera and Gregory Unruh.

Their book outlines how managers can develop three personal characteristics—global mindset, global entrepreneurship and global citizenship—that are key to becoming global leaders.

Global mindset. People who can “analyze and decode” situations in more than one cultural context have a global mindset. They can work with and influence people and organizations that are different from their own. These potential leaders are good at building trust, and they don’t judge situations or people prematurely.

Importantly, leaders with a global mindset are not necessarily experts about all the cultures they encounter, and people who are culturally aware don’t necessarily have a global mindset for business.

Readers learn how they can build critical elements for a global mindset, including intellectual capital (learned knowledge about cultures) and social capital (relationships leading to other relationships and resources). The book also examines the business and personal benefits of a flexible, global mindset.

Global entrepreneurship. These entrepreneurs create value by taking risks. The book shows how leaders can tap into differences among regions and resources and create networks connecting organizations and people—even across borders.

Global citizenship. This means making business decisions that recognize that one firm’s prosperity depends on the prosperity of others. These choices aren’t just moral—they’re also practical. The authors offer cases of business citizenship in action. They look at how fighting corruption benefits business globally, why creating and enforcing standards of practice is important, and how some employers are filling needs in the communities where they operate.

The book includes tools readers can apply now, including questions to ask and specific, immediate actions to take to develop their global mindsets as well as their global entrepreneurship and global citizenship skills.

Cabrera and Unruh include examples from firms in industries as varied as computers, apparel, pharmaceuticals and food production. The authors also offer both support and caution to leaders, warning against complacency: “Being a global leader is not a position anyone ever arrives at,” they note. Wherever the reader is now in the journey, “there will be more to learn.”

Contented Cows Still Give Better MilkLeading Culture Change in Global Organizations
By Daniel Denison, Robert Hooijberg, Nancy Lane and Colleen Lief Jossey-Bass, 2012
220 pages
List price: $34.95
ISBN: 978-0-470-90884-6

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Using lessons learned from two decades of studying seven major companies, this book offers ideas for firms already doing business globally or moving into the global marketplace. Readers learn the approaches of companies that created cultural change across national boundaries. Leading Culture Change in Global Organizations uses detailed case studies from which the authors draw larger lessons for readers to apply.

Leaders need to “make the front line the foundation” for cultural change. By following Domino’s Pizza as it worked to cut turnover and improve performance, the authors found that a focus on the workforce is key to gaining a competitive advantage. Readers get specific tips for supporting the front line:

Align strategy with your people and your culture. Formulating a business strategy that sounds great on paper is one thing, but implementing that strategy is something else altogether. If strategy clashes with culture, culture will win. That’s why business strategies must have buy-in from workers and managers. Lessons for readers include collaborating with all levels to create strategies and being aware of how strategy changes will affect everyone in the organization.

Prepare to “create one culture out of many” in any merger or acquisition. A case study looks at how attention to culture and strategy helped management integrate the disparate acquisitions that formed one company. The lessons from that example cover finding the right team, dealing with managers who aren’t aligning with the new culture and creating an integration plan to keep cultural change moving.

Export the successful culture of one part of the firm to other parts. This suggestion is for large companies with global workforces. The book examines how to use specific types of meetings and business teams and also touches on the influence of national culture vs. company culture.

The authors also focus on emerging markets in two ways: How does a company build a global business in an emerging market, and how does a company in an emerging market build a global business?

Stanford Business Books, 2012Effective Human Resource Management: A Global Analysis
By Edward E. Lawler III and John W. Boudreau
Stanford Business Books, 2012
196 pages
List price: $35
ISBN: 978-0-8047-7687-5

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If HR doesn’t change, it risks becoming just an administrative function, overseeing vendors who do the bulk of the work. HR could instead be a vital part of business strategy, but first HR must reconsider its basic structure, services and programs.

Those conclusions come from authors Edward E. Lawler III and John W. Boudreau, of the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California, in their extensive study of results from 15 years of gathering data about HR management. The study’s data identify best practices in HR, including design of the HR organization and metrics to measure HR functions’ effectiveness.

The report analyzes survey data from six points between 1995 and 2010 and examines how “the design and activities of the HR function are actually changing” over time. The surveys went to medium and large companies around the globe.

One highly significant finding: How HR organizations allocate their time has not changed between 1995 and 2010—a fact the authors find “surprising and concerning … indeed shocking” because rather than increase the time it spends being a business partner, HR continues to invest its time primarily in services, audits and legal issues—not strategic business services.

“This may be a major problem if it leads to HR executives believing they have made progress toward an objective they feel is important when in fact they haven’t,” Lawler and Boudreau warn.

Those HR executives may not even come from HR. Some companies (roughly one-quarter) place executives from non-HR functions into roles as heads of HR departments. The reasons can vary, with some companies using HR to groom executives for higher jobs such as CEO, or to make HR “more like a business,” or to give them a “ ‘safe’ pre-retirement job.”

Among other topics the study examines are these:

  • Relationships between HR organizations and their companies’ boards.
  • Quality and effectiveness of decisions about human capital.
  • Design of HR organizations worldwide. The study shows growth in self-service HR, HR teams and centers of excellence.
  • Activities HR organizations undertake. HR programs with more focus on their role in business strategy tend to be programs that also pay more attention to their own organizational development.
  • Underutilization of HR metrics and analytics.
  • Lack of growth in outsourcing of HR functions.

Click here for audio from a webinar on Effective Human Resource Management.


A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams
A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams
By Yael Zofi
AMACOM, 2011
264 pages
List price: $27.95
ISBN: 978-0-8144-1659-4

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Because working virtually reduces travel expenses and the need for office space, having virtual teams can lower an organization’s costs. And, it is easier than ever to set up these teams, thanks to technology. Most important, virtual teams let you bring together the most appropriate expertise for a project, no matter where that expertise is located.

The advantages are great, but so are the challenges for managers of virtual teams, author Yael Zofi notes. How do you build rapport among team members? How do you assess your employees and know if they’re really doing what they say they are? How do you spot poor performance in time to redirect an employee? And if you can’t see your team members daily, how do you model the way you’d like them to work?

In A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams, Zofi walks managers through the steps for creating and running new teams. She also offers advice for managers who are already working with existing virtual teams. Managers can use the book as a text on the whole team-building process, or they can dip into it for what they need at a given moment, such as help with getting deliverables out the door or advice on cross-cultural communications.

Managers learn the stages of virtual team development—setting up, following through and refreshing. Setup involves setting goals, creating team rules, and assessing team members’ abilities as well as their ease with virtual communications and technologies. Follow-through means building trust, establishing accountability, managing conflicts among team members and getting the work done. Refreshing involves checking in with team members, identifying potential improvements and debriefing if the virtual team disbands.

Zofi covers these and other topics in detail, and uses case studies to show what real managers did in tough situations. Among the specific advice she offers are tips on how to:

  • Select team members and conduct orientation for a newly formed team, or introduce a new member to an existing team.
  • Use shared calendars and other tools to keep everyone informed.
  • Deal with “lost riders,” employees who push back deadlines and lag in replying to calls or e-mails.
  • Use technology more effectively. Get tips on writing efficient e-mails, leaving more useful voice mails, running better web conferences and more.
  • Create camaraderie among team members by creating a team website with personal biographies and interests, or setting aside some meeting time for catching up personally.
  • Build accountability within virtual teams so that everyone is dependable and keeps commitments. The book includes an “accountability action plan” the team can use to spell out who does what and the schedule.
  • Handle conflicts and roadblocks. Zofi guides managers on how to mediate a conflict when the parties can’t be in the same room.
  • Get deliverables out the door. The book offers checklists for managing deliverables and advice on using tracking technologies for managing projects.
  • Work with cross-cultural teams where communications may need to be tailored carefully to account for different languages and cultural norms.

Corporate India and HR ManagementCorporate India and HR Management
Society for Human Resource Management, 2010
111 pages
List price: $21.95
ISBN 978-1-58644-197-5

Member price: $18.95
Item #61.15509 

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Whether you’re already doing business in India, or would like to do business there, this book aims to expand your understanding of Indian HR practices and issues important to business in the country’s exploding economy. 

Author Nancy R. Lockwood interviews Indian HR executives and examines India’s unique business environment, the country’s international role, and the challenges and opportunities there. She looks at:

  • Sustainable leadership. Indian businesses are growing, often hiring huge numbers of people, and even small- to medium-size enterprises may hire hundreds of people each year, Lockwood notes. Most small to medium firms hire well-educated managers whose turnover is high as they take their experience to larger firms. How can India accommodate so many new employees, handle turnover of talented workers and cope with fast-changing growth?

    The book delves into research on leadership development in particular and identifies distinctively Indian leadership traits, such as focusing on innovation, addressing societal needs, and being resilient in the face of business growth and government regulation.

  • Competition for talent. SHRM India talked to HR executives about how they compete for talent in an environment where everyone is hungry for talent. Interviews look at India’s major industry sectors and their unique initiatives for finding and developing talent. The idea of corporate social responsibility, a key part of Indian business culture, gets special attention.

  • Women in management. Lockwood reviews the cultural setting for women in the Indian workplace and notes the relatively low numbers of women who are in management. She looks at how technology, economic change, growth in the service sector and other factors are improving women’s opportunities today.

    Discussions with four Indian women professionals highlight this chapter, and Lockwood adds comments from professional men with perspectives on women in the Indian workplace. The book offers advice on how industry networks and other initiatives boost women’s roles.

  • Employer brand. Because the fight for workers is intense, a recognizable employer brand is valuable in India. Indian employers find that “corporate social investment”—a company’s commitment to community activities—improves its ability to attract and keep employees.

  • Indian HR management. A chapter on HR trends, changes and challenges specific to India outlines the influence of education levels, the relative youth of business leaders, high mobility and broad cultural diversity.

    Lockwood offers recommendations on doing business in India: Understand the value Indians place on personal relationships and loyalties, give employees learning and development opportunities they crave, and learn about young workers’ and leaders’ expectations.


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