Magazine article Personnel Journal

A U.S.-Based Russian Company's Staffing Solution

Magazine article Personnel Journal

A U.S.-Based Russian Company's Staffing Solution

Article excerpt

As aggressive businesses-corporate giants as well as small as midsize firms--scramble to enter the newly opened Eastern Europe, they're faced with many of the same challenges as companies entering other global markets. Most notable is the challenge of staffing the operation. Besides the usual difficulties of determining whether or not employees should be enlisted from the U.S. or the host country, Eastern Europe presents a host of different staffing complications. Barriers of language and culture are just the beginning. In addition, the biggest challenges include:

* Absence of an efficient business and communication of necessary skills

* A lack of candidates with the combination of necessary skills

* Limited knowledge of the human resources profession as it's understood in the West, because most hiring decisions historically have been made by the government

* Difficulty finding experienced managers willing to relocate.

Explains Martin Walter from the Economic Section of the Czech Embassy in Washington, D.C.: "Skills needed [in Eastern Europe] are the ones that our people didn't have the opportunity to develop under the centralized economy." As a result, he says, consulting firms often bring in experts from the West with specific expertise, such as marketing or accounting, on a temporary basis to get their enterprises up and running. Many of these are Eastern European emigres who aren't willing to return to their former homelands for the rest of their careers, but are eager to help their native countries remove the remaining shackles of planned economies to adopt free-market principles.

For Moscow Cellular, a joint venture operation between Denver-based U.S. West and the Russian government, the use of temporary workers is a viable solution to its staffing problems. The 20-person firm, which is developing a cellular-phone system, recently needed a senior finance professional to implement a computer based accounting system and to train local staff in Western accounting principles. Managers realized that few Muscovites had sufficient knowledge of U.S. computer accounting systems. And because the operation was a start-up, it didn't have the time to train a local. In addition, Russian accounting principles are intended primarily to record statistics, a vast difference from those in the U.S., which are designed to measure performance.

Managers had difficulty finding someone in the U. …

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