How to Hire From a Multinational

- Jim Schweigert

As a wave of consolidation is about to hit the shore of the U.S. seed industry, many articles try to analyze the impact on competition and pricing, but very few focus on the opportunities it can create for independent companies, such as the acquisition of talent.

A quick scan of past press releases reveals that one of the most widely used tactics to “increase operational efficiency” during a consolidation is to quickly and aggressively reduce staff. In fact, each of the multinational companies considering a consolidation has either announced or implemented staff reductions already.

While this is clearly a troubling time for the employees affected and their families, it creates a huge opportunity for the growing, independent companies. However, acquiring and integrating this talent is not always seamless.

During the past few years at Gro Alliance, we’ve hired a number of former multinational employees, and there are some differences management must keep in mind when adding these employees to your team. For an independent company to be successful in onboarding talent from a multinational, I recommend these three tips:

  1. Encourage Innovation and Involvement – Multinational companies work hard to communicate with employees, keeping them informed and giving them a sense of being in the know, but they have little influence over company direction or policy. In comparison, employees of independent companies can directly impact a company’s direction and policies. As a result, employees might feel overwhelmed by the number of decisions they are part of and might be concerned about making the wrong statements or choices. This concern can be alleviated by making sure new hires understand their contributions are essential in helping the company achieve success and that one misstatement isn’t a “career-ending move.” This can be one of hardest challenges to manage through as many multinational employees have learned to be very careful and not to rock the boat with new ideas. In contrast, the ability to generate those new ideas is precisely why the independent company hired the employee to begin with!
  2. Make the Employee Feel Valued – Employees coming from a multinational company often have high benefit expectations. Multinational companies typically have more comprehensive and less expensive benefits. Smaller companies typically have a more challenging time matching those packages. But by stressing the employee’s value to the company, the benefits of having more autonomy and less corporate inertia can be effective in giving the employee a higher sense of purpose and value.
  3. Promote Efficiency and Meet Regularly – Multinational employees are used to having dedicated office and administrative staff to support their work, and it can be a bit of a culture shock to have to take on these duties and work more independently. To overcome this, promote the efficiency and decision-making speed of reduced overhead and help new hires feel more comfortable by meeting regularly at the start of employment to provide an open forum for discussion.

These new employees bring a wealth of experience and technical ability that help us produce high quality seed in a professional manner. In turn, we provide an inclusive, family-oriented work environment that promotes the efforts and creativity of every employee while truly making them part of the direction-setting team. When one is able to merge the benefit of employees from multinational companies with the open structure of an independent company, the rewards can be exponential for both parties.