Recruiting, Retaining and Promoting Culturally Different Employees


  • Lionel Laroche, Ph.D., P.Eng., Principal and Founder, Multicultural Business Solutions, Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Don Rutherford, Co-founder, Culture Connect, an intercultural services company located in Calgary, Canada

The USA and Canada welcomes every year significant numbers of immigrant professionals who have high levels of formal education (Bachelors, Masters and Ph.D.) as well as extensive experience; yet a significant fraction of these immigrants are unemployed or underemployed. The purpose of this book is to help US and Canadian organizations make full use of the significant human capital that immigrants represent. This book will help organizations:ā€¢ Modify their recruitment and selection process to avoid rejecting culturally different candidates for reasons that are not related to their ability to do the job ā€¢ Develop and promote culturally diverse employees to ensure that they retain and capitalize on the new ideas that these employees bring Highly- practical the book is divided into two parts:-ā€¢ The first part focuses on the recruiting process. It takes readers through the recruiting process used by most organizations and examines why cultural differences can throw this process off . The discussion is framed by an introduction explaining what cultural differences are and a description of cross-cultural communication issues and suggested solutions.ā€¢ The second part examines the retention and promotion of culturally different employees. The turnover of culturally different people is often higher than average and they are proportionately less represented in the higher echelons of large organizations. The work examines the root causes of these issues and proposes solutions that individuals and organizations can implement.
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Primary Readership: HR personnel responsible for recruitment and selection, staffing, training and development, succession planning, organizational development and diversity, Line managers responsible for recruitment and selection, Search firms employees Secondary readership: Employees of non-profit organizations specialized in helping immigrants settle, Government employees responsible for administering immigration policies and immigrant settlement funding. Corporate Universities, MBA programs.International: This book is geared towards the US and Canadian market. There may be minor sales in the UK, Australia and New Zealand


Book information

  • Published: December 2006
  • ISBN: 978-0-7506-8240-4


"This book is a great success on several fronts. It identifies and frames the key issues extremely well, the examples are fascinating and always to the point, and the advice is well thought out out and very practical. Recruiting, Retaining and Promoting Culturally Different Employees leaves the reader wanting more, not because the authors have left anything important out but because their insights are so valuable." - Craig Storti, Intercultural Consultant and Trainer, and Author of The Art of Crossing Cultures "This work is an invaluable resource for global recruitment. Leading organizations agree that a diverse workforce generates the resilience necessary for a sustainable future. Yet traditional hiring practices obstruct the goal of achieving an ideal employee base. Finally, we have an illuminating, practical guidebook which explains cultural differences in the workplace and expands our worldview." -- Noel Kreicker, President, IOR Global Services "From a talent management perspective North America is in a ā€˜perfect stormā€™. Increased globalization, demographics and fierce competition for scarce human capital means organizations are grappling with issues of attraction and retention of employees. Into this storm come Lionel Laroche and Don Rutherford with a beacon of light to guide us. Those who read and embrace the concepts in Recruiting, Retaining and Promoting Culturally Different Employees will find they are being given both the vessel and guidance necessary to weather the storm and will come out the other end wiser, stronger, and fully able to capitalize on the ā€˜Diversity Advantageā€™. This is a must read book for recruiters, managers, recent immigrants and anyone in a culturally diverse workplace. Each chapter crisps down complex issues and ideas into bite sized bits of information that are wrapped in stories we can all relate to. The book lays out in an easy step-by-step fashion doā€™s and donā€™ts from the recruiter/manager and the applicant/employee perspectives." -- Michael Hazell, President, The Talent Management Company, Career Partners/Hazell Associates ....aimed at HR practitioners, line managers, culturally diverse employees and organizations that help immigrants find jobs-examines how cultural differences affect nuts-and-bolts employment issues like resumes, job interviews, orientation, manager-employee relationships, teamwork, career management, retention and promotion.-HR Magazine, March 2007

Table of Contents

Part 1: Recruiting from a culturally diverse talent poolChapter 1Introduction: What are cultural differences?Key points to be made in this chapter:ā€žX People attempt to achieve the same objectives in different ways depending on their cultural backgrounds.ā€žX In most cases, immigrants were successful in their home countries, so they attempt to apply the same approaches in North America as they would use back home. When they come from countries that are very different from the USA and Canada, this does not yield the desired results.ā€žX Cultural differences can be described as an iceberg. In most cases, people notice visible differences in dress code, food, etc. As they work more frequently with culturally different people, Canadians and Americans start to notice differences in the sense of hierarchy, male-female relationships, communication styles, etc. Few notice differences in teamwork approaches.ā€žX The recruiting process is particularly prone to cross-cultural misunderstanding because it involves interactions between people who have never met before and who therefore rely on their cultural programming to interpret the otherĀ”Ā¦s behaviour. Recruiters identify best candidates based on their responses to specific questions or their behaviours in specific situations. Candidates try to demonstrate that they are the best for the job by displaying the behaviours or saying the words that they anticipate to be expected by recruiters. Unfortunately, when candidates and recruiters come from different cultural backgrounds, they use different grids of interpretation of behaviours and words; as a result, recruiters misinterpret the actions and words of culturally-different candidates and reject them for reasons that have nothing to do with their ability to do the job.ā€žX Awareness is 50% of the solution: Readers are encouraged to suspend judgement and to try and interpret the meaning of candidatesĀ”Ā¦ behaviours and words from the candidatesĀ”Ā¦ perspectives.Chapter 2Screening resumesKey points to be covered in this chapter:Issues commonly encountered when screening piles of resumesā€žX Keyword screeningā€žX Website accessā€žX Ā”Ā§Jack of all trades, master of noneĀ”ĀØā€žX Resume sent to the wrong organizationā€žX Candidates who have Ā”Ā§jumped aroundĀ”ĀØā€žX Assessing correctly their level of qualification:Ā”V Over-qualifiedĀ”V Under-qualifiedĀ”V Averageā€žX Inappropriate cover lettersā€žX Resume sent to the wrong personAction steps that organizations can take to solve these issues:ā€žX Explain in extensive details, using many examples, the recruiting process used in your organization.ā€žX Look for transferable skills and experienceā€žX DonĀ”Ā¦t reject resumes because they only describe responsibilitiesā€žX Focus on progression in the U.S. or Canada, not on the level at which they are right nowā€žX Select culturally different candidates who are slightly over-qualifiedā€žX Overlook frequent changes of positions after and immediately before the time they immigratedā€žX Look for evaluation of academic credentials by World Education Services, universities, etc.ā€žX Creating clear and specific position descriptions by identifying, listing and clearly differentiating Ā”Ā§must haveĀ”ĀØ and Ā”Ā§nice to haveĀ”ĀØ skillsā€žX Check for bona fide requirements (skills and physical abilities)ā€žX Check for actual communication skill requirements of the jobChapter 3Screening candidatesKey points to be covered in this chapter:ā€žX Telephone screening interviewsā€žX Face-to-face interviewsĀ”V Different verbal / non-verbal communication stylesĀ”V Excessive deference (hierarchy)Ā”V No or downplayed accomplishmentĀ”V No personal accomplishmentĀ”V Emphasis on points of limited importanceĀ”V Sense of timeĀ”V Lack of knowledge of American / Canadian system (laws, regulations, rules, etc.)Action steps that organizations can take to solve these issues:ā€žX Avoid rejecting ESL candidates based on telephone interviewsā€žX Include HR / diverse people in recruiting teamā€žX Look past communication style differencesā€žX Focus on transferable skillsā€žX Create situations that test candidates in real-life conditionsā€žX Hire diverse candidates who need to learn more about the American / Canadian system at the low end of the pay scale and put them in developmental positions with managers who know how to handle such situationsā€žX Use short-term contracts to test candidatesā€žX Use internships and/or volunteer/shadow positions to build candidatesā€žX Determine upfront specific candidate-ranking criteriaā€žX Use behavioral interview styleā€žX Email questions to candidates 48 hours before interview and ask them to respond in writing by emailā€žX Describe recruiting process on organizationĀ”Ā¦s website, including sample interview questionsChapter 4Probation periodKey points to be covered in this chapter:ā€žX Lack of initiativeā€žX Poor working relationships with their direct managerā€žX Aggressive work styleā€žX Different approaches to problem solving and to decision makingā€žX Involvement in areas unrelated to their role and responsibilitiesAction steps that organizations can take to solve these issues:ā€žX Provide extensive orientation to culturally diverse new hires Ā”V 1 day is often insufficientā€žX Provide coaching and/or mentoring to culturally diverse new hiresā€žX Prepare and support the managers of culturally diverse new hiresā€žX Schedule monthly meeting to discuss cultural integration within organizationChapter 5Job search advice for immigrants and non-profit organizations that help them find employment in Canada and the U.S.Key points to be covered in this chapterā€žX Immigrants need to learn a new set of unwritten rules in order to get a job that makes use of their expertise and experienceā€žX They need to learn to think of themselves as specialists rather than generalists and to organize their job search accordingly.ā€žX They need to learn how to create a resume that conveys concisely and accurately their experience, skills and competencies to recruiters and line managers.ā€žX They need to learn how to network effectively.ā€žX They need to learn how to handle interviews the American / Canadian way. In particular, they need to learn to describe the projects they worked and their individual accomplishments the way Canadians or Americans would.This chapter will provide:ā€žX Specific tips on how to do this by oneself (for immigrants) or to help immigrants do it (for employees of non-profit organizations).ā€žX Tools and approaches to make the job searches of immigrants more effective.Chapter 6Cross-cultural communication issuesKey points to be covered in this chapter:Cross-cultural communication issues may arise from a wide range of non-verbal and verbal communication style differences.ā€žX Non-verbal communication style differencesĀ”V SpaceĀ”V GesturesĀ”V Body languageĀ”V Tone of voice / emotionsĀ”V HumorĀ”V Dress codeā€žX Verbal communication style differencesĀ”V English as a Second LanguageĀ”V SilenceĀ”V Underlying language assumptionsĀ”V Background noiseĀ”V Speaking face-to-face versus side-by-sideĀ”V AccentsĀ”V Acronyms / abbreviationsĀ”V Context / direct versus indirectĀ”V Different versions of EnglishĀ”V Sports EnglishĀ”V ConnotationsĀ”V Ā”Ā§YesĀ”ĀØĀ”V Ā”Ā§TomorrowĀ”ĀØĀ”V Chit-chatĀ”V Ā”Ā§The medium is the messageĀ”ĀØAction steps:ā€žX There are many action steps that can be taken both individually and collectively; these will be examined here in details.Ā”V Steps that individual employees and managers can take to communicate more effectively with othersĀ”V Steps that organizations can take to improve cross-cultural communication within the organization and with the outside.ā€žX One important point is that effective cross-cultural communication comes from doing a lot of little things well.Part 2: Retaining and promoting culturally different employeesChapter 7Introduction: Retention and promotion issues resulting from cultural differences Key points to be made in this chapter:ā€žX Many of the points made in the introduction of the first book continue to apply after culturally different people have been hired. In particular, most immigrants want to move up in organizations and they attempt to do so by working hard the way they would have worked back home. This approach does not always yield the desired results because of cultural differences.ā€žX Failures to retain culturally different employees has a negative impact on organizations for several reasons:Ā”V They miss their Affirmative Action targets or fail to make progress on their Employment Equity numbersĀ”V Culturally different employees who leave because they feel that their skills are not fully used eventually leave, taking their skills away to a competitor or they end up creating competing organizationsChapter 8Manager-employee relationshipsKey points to be made in this chapter:ā€žX Getting along and understanding what your manager wants from you are critical to the success of any employee. When an employee comes from a cultural background that is different from his or her manager, employee and manager may have completely different ideas of what being a good employee and being a good manager mean. As a result, they may work very poorly together, even though each is convinced that he or she is doing a great job. Unfortunately, they are using different yardsticks to measure their performances because they have different senses of hierarchy.ā€žX Differences in hierarchy have a major impact on the following:Ā”V Titles and protocolĀ”V CompensationĀ”V Making decisionsĀ”V Delegation of tasks and responsibilitiesĀ”V Promotion processĀ”V Performance evaluationā€žX Giving and receiving feedback is an integral part of progress in an organization. When we give feedback to people who come from different cultural backgrounds, the message may be received in a completely different way than it was meant.Action steps:ā€žX At the individual level:Ā”V Discuss with your manager / employees who should make what decisionsĀ”V Determine whether your manager employees are more or less hierarchical than you are and adapt to their styleĀ”V Adapt your feedback style to their sensitivityā€žX At the organizational level:Ā”V Train managers to manage culturally different reportsĀ”V Train employeesĀ”V Provide coaching and/or mentoringĀ”V Adapt high potential programsChapter 9TeamworkKey points to be made in this chapter:ā€žX Being a good team player is essential to the success of individual employees. People coming from different cultural backgrounds have different ideas of what being a good team player means and their definitions may be incompatible because they have a different sense of individualism.ā€žX Differences in individualism have a major impact on the following:Ā”V Office lay-outĀ”V VacationsĀ”V TeamworkĀ”V Decision-makingĀ”V CompensationĀ”V Promotion processā€žX Risk tolerance varies significantly from one culture to the next. In the workplace, risk tolerance translates into how much information people need to make a decision and be comfortable that they are making the right decision. When members of a team have different levels of risk tolerance, teams can easily and quickly fall apart.ā€žX Difference in risk tolerance have a major impact on the following:Ā”V Problem-solvingĀ”V PresentationsĀ”V Decision-makingĀ”V Career planningĀ”V CompensationĀ”V Project planningAction steps:ā€žX At the individual levelā€žX At the organizational levelChapter 10Promotion processKey points to be covered in this chapter:ā€žX Hierarchical versus non-hierarchical promotion processā€žX Collective versus individualistic promotion processā€žX Glass ceilingAction steps:ā€žX Helping culturally different employees move up through:Ā”V High potential programsĀ”V Special / developmental assignmentsĀ”V MentorshipĀ”V Internal / external coachingā€žX Changing the organizational culture through:Ā”V TrainingĀ”V Recruiting (internships, shadow positions, etc.)Ā”V Supporting the managers of culturally diverse employees through training, mentorship, coaching, and foreign assignmentsChapter 11Conclusion: Benefits of cultural diversityKey points to be covered in this chapter:ā€žX Cultural differences are a source of both challenges and opportunities. In most cases, the challenges come first, the opportunities later, when culturally diverse people have learned to work together effectively.ā€žX Creating a corporate culture where cultural diversity is valued can be a significant competitive advantage, because it is very difficult to duplicate.ā€žX Culturally diverse people create synergies and innovate by approaching the same problem from very different angles and by bringing different experiences to the solution.ā€žX Culturally diverse organizations can expand into cultural / ethnic / foreign marketsAppendixDemographics of immigrants in the USA and Canada.