Fortune 500 companies such as Home Depot, Target, and Walmart have failed to expand into new international markets. What’s hindering their success? Cultural differences, regulatory requirements, and competition from established local players can create barriers for organizations seeking to expand. Seventy-one percent of HR executives cite HR-related issues as the most significant challenge to global growth. Compliance with employment law and customs is the second most common (43 percent).
Here are five strategies to adopt to recruit and retain the leadership talent required for a successful market expansion:
1. Define the roles and responsibilities: To narrow your search and focus on finding the right executive candidate for each position, define the roles and responsibilities. Include the role’s purpose, primary objectives, key performance indicators, and how it fits into the broader organizational structure. Next, identify the key stakeholders impacted by the leadership position—including team members, customers, and partners—and collaborate with them to understand the scope of the role and the expectations of those working with the leader.
2. Source and attract local talent: Every market is different. When expanding internationally, hiring executive talent who understand the local market and culture is essential. Look for leadership candidates familiar with the specific market you’re entering and who have experience with global business operations. Here are skills to look for:
- A deep understanding of the cultural, legal, and regulatory landscape and the local business environment
- Fluency in the local language—essential for effective communication and relationship-building with local stakeholders, including customers, partners, and government officials
- The ability to adapt to new environments and collaborate effectively across cultures
- Open-mindedness, flexibility, and capacity to work effectively in diverse teams
- The soft skills and emotional intelligence needed to motivate and inspire team members, communicate effectively, and make difficult decisions when necessary
In addition to posting positions on global job boards and using LinkedIn, local job boards may be popular in the area in which you’re expanding. Research these job boards and consider posting executive positions there to reach a more targeted audience. Consider contacting local professional associations and industry groups to connect with potential leadership candidates who are active in your industry. These associations may have job boards or networking events where you can meet potential candidates.
3. Conduct behavioral interviews: Only 30 percent of job seekers feel that the questions they were asked in their last interview effectively assessed their fit for a role. The structure and standardization of behavioral interviews reduce the risk of errors and inconsistencies in the hiring process. Behavioral interviews are designed to evaluate how candidates performed in the past and can be tailored to assess leadership potentials—such as soft skills like communication, decision-making, problem-solving, and strategic thinking—along with cultural alignment and emotional intelligence. During the hiring process, tools like The Predictive Index (PI) can be used to assess the behavioral and cultural fit of the executive candidate. Focusing on specific skills and abilities rather than subjective factors can reduce hiring process bias, ensuring executive candidates are evaluated on their merits and that the best person is selected for the role.
4. Provide leadership development and coaching: To retain the leaders you worked so hard to source and attract, provide appropriate training and support to ensure they have the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. Executive leadership coaching improves team performance and can be essential in retaining talent, especially in today’s competitive job market. A management consulting and investment banking firm FMI study found that executive coaching improves an executive’s readiness for a new role (91 percent), work engagement (88 percent), leadership effectiveness (84 percent), and organizational commitment (63 percent). Additionally, coaching gives your business an 87 percent return on investment (ROI).
5. Account for local employment and payroll regulations: One in four companies withdraw from an international market due to local regulatory compliance issues. Therefore, it’s critical to thoroughly research the local labor laws, employment regulations, and tax laws in the countries where you plan to expand your business. It’s also important to consult legal and accounting experts specializing in international business to ensure compliance. Develop a global policy covering all aspects of employment, including compensation, benefits, leave, termination, and more. Ensure this policy aligns with the local laws and regulations in each country where your organization operates. Communicate openly with your global talent and inform them of their employee rights and responsibilities and any changes in local laws and regulations.
Consider partnering with an executive search firm
Having the right talent is critical to overcoming challenges and achieving success in a new market. Executive search firms—like TalentRise—specialize in emerging and senior leadership roles (Director to C-Level) in organizations experiencing business disruption, growth, change, or transformation. Search firms have extensive networks to help identify candidates who may not be actively seeking new opportunities.
TalentRise serves international clients as a member of the PRAXI Alliance, a global alliance that provides search services in local markets where a client does not currently have a presence. Carl Kutsmode, the TalentRise global search alliance contact, has worked with many clients expanding into the U.S. and Canada.
Related: TalentRise Joins PRAXI Alliance as the Network’s Exclusive U.S. and Canadian Executive Search and Talent Consulting Partner
This blog was authored by Carl Kutsmode.