When doing international business, don’t make these errors when you choose who’s going to work for you in another country.
(1) Assume that a foreign national can do anything and everything regarding their country.
Too many times, we’ve seen Chinese engineers acting as negotiators, French diplomats take on the role of market access people, and Taiwanese sales people try to source factories for their employer.
Would we hire an engineer to negotiate in America? Why would we ever do that overseas? It doesn’t make sense, especially in international marketing.
International is an adjective. Being Indian doesn’t mean you know everything about India — from production to marketing to advertising to negotiation to dentistry. If we define specific skill sets to accomplish goals in America, why would we lump all the skills into one person for a Hispanic market?
(2) Assume that they respect your authority.
This one is always tough for Americans. You may have positional authority (in that you hired them). But in many cultures, true leadership needs to be earned. Your “foreigner” may have more affiliation to a client, market, co-worker or an ex-boss.
In Central and Eastern Europe, entire governments and economies have changed hands because authority was defied. If everyone magically listened to the boss, China wouldn’t be the world’s factory, and Poland wouldn’t be the fastest-growing economy in Central Europe.
So aks yourself: do they respect my authority?
(3) Treat them as translators.
Someone who speaks Greek isn’t necessarily a Greek translator. And if you have employed Greek managers, then those managers have their own jobs to do and their own agendas in meetings.
Translation is a specialized skill, like sales, accounting or security. If you haven’t got a translator when you need one, then you simply haven’t invested enough money in your endeavor.