Global Expansion and the Importance of a Job Structure

Riding the Growth Curve

Several years ago, I worked for a company that was beginning to experience some significant growing pains brought on by its expansion into the global marketplace.  The young company I had joined had grown rapidly in the U.S. and was now looking for a stronger presence internationally.  Opportunities to open locations in Europe, Asia and Latin America had triggered a hiring phase unlike any the company had previously experienced and in the eagerness to expand; we overlooked the fact that we were rapidly outgrowing our own infrastructure.

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It didn’t take long before the problems became apparent.  There was no process in place for on-boarding new employees into a job structure upon hire.  Beyond being given a title and assigned a team, they were unclear about their job responsibilities or how to excel in their careers at the company.  In addition, there were no detailed job families, so the next step on a career path was not always evident.

 Does Everyone Have Their Own Title?

The company now had 1,600 job titles that were shared among 3,000 employees.  Talent management was getting exponentially more complex as we grew and the former organizational structure lacked the ability to differentiate between levels of job responsibilities.  As staffing needs diverged between locations, employees with the same job title often had completely different roles within their group.  This led to employee complaints about the lack of job clarity and hampered their ability to transfer internally. The ambiguity in job responsibilities also hindered the managers and their ability to accurately hire, assess and report on job performance. The company was simply getting too big to operate like a start-up and employees were beginning to walk out the door, frustrated with their work environment.  Obviously, changes needed to be made.

The Process of Global Talent Architecture

To address the situation, the company turned to its Human Resources Department to create a cross functional team and begin the process of global talent architecture.  Global talent architecture is the process of planning, designing and creating talent programs that support the business on an international scale.  The heart of these new programs relied on a robust, but fluid, job structure that established a strong foundation for talent programs but was flexible enough to change with the growing company. The process took us a little over a year to complete.  We overcame several challenges and obstacles that probably could have been avoided had we begun the process earlier, but the end result set the groundwork for the company to prosper in the future.Job Structure Quote SM

Less than a year after the project was completed, growth accelerated as workflows streamlined and we had better data and reporting.  Employees benefited as the clarification in job roles and accurate assessment of internal talent led to an increase in promotions and mobility within the company.  Employee satisfaction and retention increased to the point that we were recognized for several successive years as one of the best places to work in the San Francisco Bay Area.  This was all made possible by investing in our HR infrastructure and insuring it grew apace with our business model.

 The Importance of a Global Job StructureBenefits of Job Structures

Companies with worldwide expansion need the process of global talent architecture to plan and design HR programs that manage diverse employee and business needs.  The foundation of HR programs, as well as effective business reporting, is the job structure which is made up of business functions, job families and roles.  A job structure leads to vast benefits for the company.  Some benefits will be realized immediately such as the improved quality and speed of management data as well as the administration of core HR programs such as talent management, total rewards, and learning and development.

Take a close look at your company’s job structure and ask yourself if it adequately supports your HR programs and business reporting needs.  Many companies encourage their leaders to find ways to reduce their operating expenses.  Fixing your job structure will do the same thing only better.  It will enhance processes across the company by simply improving business reporting so resources can be spent more effectively with higher impact.

Sam Reeve