Even amid the global economic slowdown, international exposure is a necessity – thus the rise in popularity of short-term, cost-effective mobility assignments.

To spark off ideas for HR and mobility managers implementing these assignments for their organisation, Jerene Ang speaks to Gary Lee, chief HR specialist for global talent development, group HR – organisational development at Grundfos, to find out how it's done.

As a global leader in advanced pump solutions and a trendsetter in water technology, Grundfos views employee mobility as an opportunity to develop its promising employees in areas that would otherwise not have been possible in a local context.

Gary Lee, chief HR specialist for global talent development, group HR – organisational development at Grundfos, believes that to meet immediate business needs and increase connectivity across boundaries, there will be an increasing uptake in shorter term employee mobility assignments.

The company currently has in place short-term mobility assignments which are targeted at its global graduates where business needs and graduate competencies are matched up before the global graduate is placed in a specific job role over a six to eight month period.

Regarding these assignments, Lee says: “Giving them greater exposure to different customer demographics and market challenges can increase their competencies to take on future senior leadership roles.”

Grundfos has in place short-term mobility assignments targeted at its global graduates where business needs and graduate competencies are matched for a six to eight month period.
Shedding light on the business need of the policy, he reveals the need was twofold – to meet human capital demands and to develop talent for the future.

“The first need was to meet human capital demands where the business had a shortfall of the required expertise and the global graduate could fulfil it,” he says.

“The second need was to develop promising talent for the future and by providing them with short-term mobility assignments it gives them a more global perspective when they are placed in their permanent roles.”

The mobility policy, owned by the company’s group HR, was implemented in consultation with the various performance units.

Lee explains that to engage the parties involved and gain buy-in of stakeholders, the team had to work with business leaders to determine if there was a genuine need for a specific graduate expertise and get their commitment to dedicate resources and time to develop the global graduate during the assignment rather than placing them in a role that requires more paper pushing.

“Once the needs have been matched, the assigned line manager will brief the candidate on the expectations of the assignment and an introductory session will be conducted to ensure that expectations are communicated clearly between both parties,” he adds.

Grundfos Gary Lee

The key challenges Grundfos faced when implementing this programme was finding the right business need to develop the global graduates and providing an opportunity for the graduate to really contribute to the business instead of being hand-held most of the time, Lee says.

However, once the right mobility assignment is found, Lee says both the business and the global graduate will reap the benefits of the development programme.

“For the business, the graduate is able to influence the top or bottom line through projects they undertake. As for the graduate, they get a better understanding of the Grundfos work culture, which allows them to make a more informed decision where they would like to see their Grundfos career going, while being developed in the process,” he says.

In terms of measuring ROI, KPIs are established between the business and graduate before the commencement of the assignment, he says.

“Group HR plays the role of a mediator and support to ensure the goals are realistic within the stipulated timeline and are able to contribute to the business,” he says.

“For example, a global graduate could be tasked with the role of researching into the feasibility of launching existing products into new emerging markets. At the end of the assignment, the graduate is expected to deliver projected sales from each product stream based on initial business inputs.”

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