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Thursday, February 4, 2010


I am no dumb good looking blonde! and..... doing business in the international marketplace is a challenge most American corporations are not prepared for. Rare is the American corporation that understands the proper way to prepare itself and its employees. The environments resulting from global corruption in which the employees of the company will find themselves require intensive preparation. Too often the failure of the company to prepare the employee, for what ever reason, results in the sacrifice of an employee that would have been a lifelong asset for the company.

When an American corporation plans to open a new office in a state different from the home office, significant planning is undertaken. Site surveys are taken, building facilities teams travel to the new site and surveys are undertaken. Bidding construction contractors are interviewed and financial administrators ensure that proper
banking and legal contacts are in place. In short, a full court press by the company management to ensure a successful start-up of the
new office.

If this same American company decides to open an office in a foreign country do they follow the same procedure? Most likely and all too often they do not. Instead, they pick some rising young star in the company and send them to the new country on their own. They might as well place the rope around the neck of that aspiring company star because failure is almost certainly guaranteed.

American executives and companies totally misunderstand that expecting performance levels from foreign managers that match US colleagues is inherently unfair. More over it usually puts the US employee in an impossible and no-win situation. The reason is the US understanding of what is, and what is not, corruption.

In many third world countries the building of relationships is not considered corruption. When done properly there is a difference between activities that violate the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the relationship building required to reach expected US performance standards.
The key to successful relationship building is defining correctly the target position with which the relationship is to be built. The relationship should always be built with a target position rather than a specific individual. In third world countries, relationships maintained between US corporations and important positions in government and key industries is the key to problem solving. When these relationships are properly maintained the US company will be informed of pending problems and pitfalls before there is even an indication that there could be a problem.

How are these key and important relationships maintained? The successful route is to develop a friendly relationship before there are problems; before any thing is needed or even seen as a remote possibility.

Here are two examples of opportunities to properly and legally maintaining these types of company to position relationships.

Often US companies in foreign countries have recreation facilities for executives and other key employees. These are shared usually shared on a rotating cycle basis. The foreign persons temporarily occupying a targeted position should be offered the opportunity to be included in that rotating schedule. Often the invitation will be declined but still with benefit gained. If the invitation is accepted a good start will have been made toward building and maintaining a most valuable connection.

When that same person arrives in the USA for a convention another key opportunity is available. What would be wrong with his wife, who may have accompanied him, being invited to lunch with the wives of the US company executives? What would be wrong with taking her shopping and showing her the special places she can shop? This would be so unexpected that no other action would be needed or expected.

When the US company has an approaching problem back in the foreign location they will often be informed of the problem, and a relatively easy solution, before the US company was even aware of the situation. Usually the easy solution will not involve any actions that would be in violation of US foreign business activities.

Building and maintaining these key company to position relationships will provide the US key employees the tools for success that they would otherwise not usually have available. Not having these tools will too often result in the US executive taking steps in violation of either US company standards or of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This will result in serious problems for the company and most likely the loss of a key employees promising career

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