It’s no secret that the economies of the world are converging. Companies that in the past could remain viable by only doing business stateside now find themselves with the need to expand into emerging markets and unfamiliar territories. As a result, global competence is becoming an imperative for anyone wanting to remain marketable in the 21st century workplace.
For example, the organization that accredits college engineering programs, ABET, has called for students to be skilled in “intercultural competence”. The National Academy of Engineering also called for similar skills in its report, “The Engineer of 2020”. This is in recognition of the fact that more jobs will have to work collaboratively over borders than ever before.
Global competence, as defined by the National Education Association, is a mix of these four skills:
1. International awareness: a general understanding of world events, history, and politics. The idea that domestic actions can have global consequences.
2. Appreciation of cultural diversity: the understanding and appreciation of other cultures and how their viewpoints might differ from yours.
3. Proficiency in foreign languages: cross-cultural communication skills are integral to an individual’s ability to work internationally.
4. Competitive skills: creativity, innovation, and critical thinking skills that are the hallmarks of competitive countries’ education systems.
How do you know where your organization could use some help in these areas? Through assessment. Just like most other fields, there are tests that workers can take to measure their global competence. Some are self-assessments administered by the employee themselves, while others are administered by education providers and consultants.
These assessments have to strike a balance. Some of the skills mentioned above are outwardly facing and relatively easy to improve, like a person’s general awareness of global events. Others are personality traits that might take some education and other actions to become more proficient. Global competency assessments should accurately measure an individual’s abilities in both, as well as formulate projections on how likely it is that the individual can improve in certain skills. They should also take into account both the employee’s assessment of their skills as well as some objective measures.
Once adopted, global competence assessments can inform hiring and promotion decisions, power employee development plans, and narrow down the training opportunities you make available to your workforce.
The travel firm TripAdvisor recently used Rosetta Stone to help increase their employees’ global competence. Read their case study here.