Global Mobility is playing an increasingly important role as organizations look to maximize the return on investment of their expatriate populations. As the Global Mobility (GM) function continues to evolve, not only are GM professionals required to be good communicators and problem solvers but it is also essential for them to hone their influencing skills. The experience, insight and professionalism of Global Mobility is invaluable to an organization, but it can only add that value if the organization listens with open ears.
Although Global Mobility professionals are seen as versatile in many business areas such as HR management, tax, employment law, housing, logistics as well as interpersonal and intercultural skills, they are still viewed by many as fulfilling an administrative function rather than being a strategic business partner.
That’s why it is important for Global Mobility managers to elevate their role within the organization. Only then can they influence key stakeholders to ensure that their expertise (and opinion) is considered during important business decisions.
Global Mobility professionals can add value to discussions on talent strategy, resource management, finance, and international development and growth.
For example, a global mobility professional can be called on to share their expertise when key decisions are made on:
- International growth into new markets and territories
- Providing costings and forecasts for new projects and bids
- Resource and talent management decisions
So how can Global Mobility professionals develop their influencing skills to raise their profile within the organization and change the perception of being merely a support function?
1. Communication skills
Communication is a key requisite when influencing others. According to Mercer, communicating is essential for global mobility professionals to present their business case and influence stakeholders on the importance of their role in the workplace.
The global mobility leader must be able to communicate mobility strategies and outcomes effectively to stakeholders and senior leaders in the business.
According to Mercer, storytelling skills enable the global mobility leader to communicate the bigger picture effectively to stakeholders in a way that will help them understand the role of mobility in context to the overall business objectives.
2. Build rapport
Building rapport is a requisite for Global Mobility professionals to build relationships with key people whom they wish to influence.
Rapport with key stakeholders and leaders will help to create trust and make it easier for them to persuade leadership to elevate their profile in the organization.
Global Mobility professionals need to be assertive in order to influence and convince others about the importance of their role in the organization.
When they are presenting their case, they must state their opinion with confidence and present their ideas with affirmative statements.
Non-verbal aspects of communication, such as strong and positive gestures and body language, also play a key role in projecting confidence and influencing others.
4. Questioning skills
To influence, it is important to ask the right questions to get the answers you want. Global mobility leaders can probe and find out how other HR functions best support the business and devise ways to present a strong business case.
Open questions (what, when, why, how, who, where) are great ways to pull people into the conversation, giving the speaker the chance to influence and demonstrate expertise.
5. Selling skills
Global mobility professionals can hone their selling skills to reposition themselves as business partners who are there to lend advisory support rather than being seen purely as administrators or information providers.
For this reason, it is not only important for global mobility to recognize important stakeholders and decision-makers, they need to prepare well-polished arguments to effectively present their case.
According to a report by Deloitte on the changing role of global mobility, less than a third of companies deemed mobility professionals as business partners.
Region-wise, although 53% of respondents in the EMEA region viewed global mobility as a strategic partner, only 19% of APAC companies held the same view.
Global Mobility professionals must learn how to:
- Position their product (expertise)
- Demonstrate the return on investment (e.g. cost savings, compliance, risk management,etc.)
- Close the deal (gain stakeholder buy-in)
6. Training and coaching
It is essential for global mobility professionals to understand that the language they speak is different from other functions and business areas.
Therefore, a strong initiative must be taken by global mobility to teach, coach and advise others who are less familiar with the vocabulary of global mobility.
One executive in a UK organization was very confused about why their organization seemed to be supplying all assignees with free COLA. It was only by chance that she understood that it referred to the Cost of Living Adjustment.
Stakeholders who have no personal experience of relocation or of the global mobility function will not understand the blockers and challenges experienced by Global Mobility professionals every day.
Until global mobility teams educate their internal customers, they will never achieve true strategic positioning within the business.
7. Build knowledge
To influence key stakeholders, it is essential for global mobility professionals to gather strong evidence on the current and future effect and impact of mobility on the business.
Global Mobility professionals should also be proactive and research current trends and forecasts. Once the data is collected it can be publicized to influence and convince others: data convinces where opinion is unable to.
Big data on every aspect of global mobility strategy has the potential to radically influence corporate strategy.
According to Deloitte, as the number of international assignments grows in an increasingly complex and challenging environment, the role of global mobility professionals is fast evolving. With increased investment in international growth and expansion, their role is likely to see a shift from a purely support function to a strategic one.
According to the Deloitte report, the future looks bright for the global mobility professional.
In the five years between 2010 and 2015, 88% of companies saw a significant change in the role of Global Mobility from a purely functional role to a more strategic one. Further changes are forecasted: 87% of companies have predicted that global mobility will become a fully recognized strategic business unit by 2020.
To push this forward, it is important for Global Mobility to fully use their influencing skills to further elevate their position in the organization so they are recognized as a key driver of business success.