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International HR Manager

Project example :

"International HR Manager for the optimization of HR processes"

International HR Manager for the optimisation of HR processes

This client was an international biotech company with headquarters in the USA and European headquarters in Paris. The company has national sales companies in many European countries. The initial situation was that the client wanted to have a uniform market presence in all European countries. To achieve this, the HR processes in the newly-established matrix organisation also had to be optimised – through International HR Management!

Project »International HR Manager«

Whether in Italy, Germany or France, the customer wanted the same products, processes and services to be available in all countries. For this reason, the client readjusted its market organisation. The sales companies in the individual European countries were largely dissolved and a European matrix organisation was created with headquarters in Paris.  Operating from Berlin, I was assigned as International HR Manager for the support of the Central Europe area with the following focal points:

  • International HR Management

  • Personnel support for different European countries

  • Consulting in strategic HR Management

  • Recruiting in different European countries

  • Optimisation of HR processes / establishment of a European HR organisation

  • Identification of a new payroll provider

  • Collaboration in the transition of the payroll to a new provider

Course of the project

For me as International HR Manager, the challenge in this project was to look after employees in different European countries. The same guidelines and HR processes were needed in all countries, taking into account the specifics of the local market. Because in Poland for example, the Labour Law regulations are different from those in Switzerland or Austria, the client works with an international law firm that advises on all issues in the respective country. So it was important for the International HR Manager to have intensive experience in working with lawyers. Equally, it was necessary to have practical knowledge about which issues are outsourced and which can be tackled internally.

Another challenge was the cross-border deployment of employees and how this should be handled. This required knowledge of social security law and tax issues. For example, among which countries are there regulations for cross-border workers applicable or which countries have an agreement on taxation? This information was shared with international colleagues and solutions were found together for the individual European countries. The high level of complexity was exhausting for me as International HR Manager – but it was a challenge I was up to and arguably at the same time it was also fun.

» With International HR Management, I found the high level of complexity exciting – getting to grips with topics quickly in the kind of detail that was needed in order to find joint solutions. «

Lars Schott, HR Manager
Interim Manager Personal

Optimisation of HR processes

An important focus in the International HR Management project was also the optimisation of HR processes. The client had set up a new matrix organisation in Europe. The same HR processes were to exist in all European countries, but at the same time the requirements of the local market were to be taken into account. The client's mindset in implementing the European matrix organisation was very professional. A European HR team of Interim Managers was formed, with an interim HR Manager recruited for the Netherlands and France. With this European HR team, not only did we relaunch the HR processes, but also shared best practice examples from different countries and experiences from different companies and sectors. Together we created what can best be described as: an excellent and exemplary product representative of European work in the area of Human Resources.

A new payroll provider

The client further decided to have its payroll in Europe run by a global provider in the future. As part of the cooperation, the team identified different suppliers and then transferred the payroll to the newly-selected provider.  At the end of the day, HR Management always tends to be measured by the employees in terms of how reliably the administrative processes are run i.e. punctuality of payroll accounting and the error margin. Because of this, it was important to define standards for the HR processes and agree on service level agreements with the new payroll provider. Of course in Payroll, the particularities of the respective local market also had to be taken into account.

The challenge posed by a matrix organisation

The client had introduced a new matrix organisation in Europe. This meant: Previously, the managers reported to the national Managing Director. In the future, managers would work across borders and not all decisions could still be made locally. The client actively supported its managers in this process and developed training programmes for management competencies for the matrix organisation managers. As International HR Manager, I supported the client in designing these training sessions. 

The following questions were addressed: 

  • How do I tackle problems in matrix organisations?

  • How do I make the right decisions?

  • Which topics can I deal with locally?

  • When do I feed issues into the European organisation?

  • How do I manage staff without resorting to disciplinary leadership?

  • What are the intercultural differences in the new organisation?

​A proven track record

The goal of optimising and harmonising HR processes, reorganising the company as a matrix organisation, outsourcing payroll, training managers and building a European HR organisation could only be achieved through transnational cooperation: Experiences were exchanged, external experts were involved, knowledge was obtained and standards defined. I am now in a position to use my know-how as an International HR Manager gained from this project, effectively and beneficially for future assignments.

Further information:

» My services: HR Management

» My services: Recruiting

» My services: Labor Relations

» Project example: HR Business Partner in a matrix organization

» Project example: Head of HR with focus on Merger & Acquisition

» Project example: Head of HR with a focus on recruiting

» Project example: HR Generalist at a medium-sized company

» Project example: Talent Acquisition Manager at an IT company

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