3 ways HR can help Australian companies expand into Asia

Asia expansion

There are three key areas HR should assist their companies with in developing and implementing an effective expansion strategy into Asia, according to a global consulting firm.

Many Australian companies are setting their sights on regional expansion into Asia to improve their market share and stay ahead of competitors.

However, understanding core market and cultural differences can mean the difference between success and failure, said Brad Noakes, partner and managing director at The Boston Consulting Group.

1. A strategic approach to workforce planning. Before developing a regional expansion strategy, HR needs to understand their business’ current strategy and its direction, said Noakes.

“The critical thing is to look at what the business strategy is and the operational plan over the next three to five years. Then look at the capabilities of the people you’re going to need in the company, as well as where they will need to be located and when,” Noakes said.

Once HR leaders understand the organisation’s current strategy and what is required to meet future operational needs over the coming years, he said it is important to determine workforce requirements to help facilitate growth in target markets.

HR needs to map out which areas will need to hire more as well as what type of people the organisation will need. This should focus on not only technical and functional expertise, but exposure to and experience in target Asian markets, he said.

“The critical thing is to look at what the business strategy is and the operational plan over the next three to five years. Then look at the capabilities of the people you’re going to need in the company”

2. Career development and training. The second step for HR revolves around the people who will be hired to assist with the regional expansion strategy, as well as mapping pathways for professionals who are going to best meet business needs.

HR needs to assess capability gaps and understand what training programs need to be put in place to address them, according to Noakes.

These may focus on topics such as cultural learning, targeted Asian language training, intercultural master classes as well as training that involves experiential learning to help build diplomacy skills required for building strong networks.

Noakes said these skill-sets are essential to establishing global talent pipelines and robust international networks for market expansion.

3. Performance management. The third and final step for HR focuses on adapting and potentially automating performance management systems in order to reflect the key business priorities required for success in Asia.

Noakes said HR departments must determine the specifics of what is required to develop a management system to addresses their business objectives in a particular target market.

This should not only take into account how people might perform against those objectives, “but also the way that performance management system is deployed in different markets with people who are recruited locally, versus people who are recruited out of Australia and deployed into those markets”, he said.

Importantly, HR leaders need to ensure their performance management systems “link the capability and the outcome for the performance of the organisation overall, but does so in a way that is appropriate to that market”, Noakes added.

By Nicholas Hui