Leadership Exchange – Building an Engaged and Productive Global Workforce

6 min read

San Francisco Bay & New York City

Q1 2023

As someone that supports HR and people leaders every single day, I was so excited for the opportunity to come together, with over 100 executive-level HR leaders LIVE in person over the last two weeks.

The community that I have been building at achieve Engagement has been fully virtual for the past three years, and this is our first live in-person exchange since.

And it did not disappoint.


I was so excited about this exchange because it is pretty obvious that the last two years have expedited decades of workforce transformation. There is just no playbook for this rapid shift of how work gets done and to also do it in a way that builds an engaged and productive global workforce.

It's no surprise that most of us are left with more questions than answers.

But it must be learned and figured out – where do you begin?

Going at it alone and our chances of success become extremely limited. But together, I believe we can navigate any challenge that comes our way.

That’s what these leadership exchanges are all about. They are designed to go well beyond traditional HR policies and procedures and if anything, enable us to walk away with a new framework that we can act on.

What was extremely energizing about this room is it was filled with the pioneers that are going to lead the way forward in this next evolution of work. We really are the new wave of leaders that are tasked with guiding our companies forward into the future. The new models, strategies, and innovative ways to support our people will be used as the guide to be learned from in the next wave of HR leaders entering and moving up in the workforce.

This provides us with such an honorable opportunity to be curious, vulnerable, and most importantly, bold.

For those that are not familiar with achieve Engagement - Our purpose is to humanize the world of work by rethinking the ways in which organizations can ‘achieve’ engagement.

We do this by designing programs, workshops, and experiences that bring leaders, research, and best practices to the table to learn from and incorporate into our own workforces.

This leadership exchange included peer-to-peer discussions as well as insight into best practices by a few industry leaders. During our time together in San Francisco and New York, we discussed a number of topics that included, but were not limited to:

  • Effectively cultivating a positive culture across a hybrid workforce.
  • Amplifying engagement in a hybrid work environment.
  • Optimizing your workforce across geographic boundaries.
  • Developing the skills you need to prioritize as a global HR leader in 2023.

For some insight into the experience and the lessons learned, our first industry expert included the amazing Michael Landers, founder, and president of Culture Crossing Inc., a global consulting company dedicated to finding innovative solutions for leaders and teams working in multicultural contexts.

He is the author of the bestselling book Culture Crossing, the essential primer to working, living, and thriving in today’s increasingly multicultural marketplace and communities, and the recently released Present Company: Cultivating Cultures of High Performance in Teams and Organizations.

Some of the things that he shared that really resonated are first to figure out “how global are you?” Thinking about if you have more of an ethnocentric, polycentric, or geocentric culture. Or maybe a blend of some type. And if you are going to initiate a larger global program, ask yourself these 5 questions.

  • What needs to change?
  • Who will lead it?
  • How will it be done?
  • When will it be completed?
  • How will success be measured?

When moving your culture from an ethnocentric to a polycentric or geocentric type structure, ask these questions as you look at items like decision-making, communication, language, marketing strategy, recruitment, training, and more!


We were then joined by Annie Rosencrans, People & Culture Director at HiBob. Sharing strategies around how you can support and scale your global workforce in times of immense change. 

I was extremely excited for this one simply because it's one thing to survive during times of immense change but to thrive and scale – That’s a whole different story!

Annie shared some best practices around how HR leaders can become more proactive rather than reactive and build a multinational team that is engaged, connected, and aligned.

Some of the things that she shared that really resonated and anyone can take action on today is to think to yourself, when everything is changing, what can you rely on that is unchangeable?

To answer this question, think about how you can get back to the basics and ensure you maintain a strong foundation underneath you. Things like grounding all business decisions in your mission & vision. This is obvious but so many companies just don’t do it. Make sure you clarify your mission and vision, document them, publish them, and make sure everyone in every department knows their role in this and are all rowing in the same direction.

A second piece to this is to codify your culture. One of the hardest things about managing a rapidly changing global workforce is building a cohesive global culture. One that celebrates peoples’ differences but binds you together as one global team across cultures & time zones. The key to overcoming this is to establish a set of values, norms, & rituals that reflect a culture that’s uniquely yours


One of the final thought leaders to present with us was Dr. Anna A. Tavis, Co-Author of "Humans at Work" and Academic Director of the Human Capital Management Department at NYU. 

She shared a framework that she calls the “4 Ws.” Work, workplace, workforce, and worth. What I loved about her session is how she laid out the evolution of jobs.

How in the past, jobs were about muscle, now they are about brains, but in the future, they’ll be about the heart.

An ongoing challenge that Anna also spoke to is the need to develop deeper levels of connection within the workplace. How work is about relationships and has never been more connected, yet we have never felt more alone. One way to overcome this in a productive way is to create “bonding ties” and “bridging ties.” Bonding ties are focused on creating stronger relationships between people of similar backgrounds and interests. Bridging ties are building relationships that share few or no third part contacts in common – this can provide access to novel knowledge that previously would be kept in a silo.


After we generated some energy within the room, we transitioned into our peer exchange element of the experience.

As I mentioned before, all of the leaders in this room have the opportunity to be true pioneers within the world of work and be the first to use or apply new methods that our next generation of people leaders can learn from.

What I love about this session, is that these facilitated peer discussions are designed to give you the opportunity to access the experience of your peers and unlock the collective intelligence within the room.

This room was filled with brilliant people. All of which are doing some brilliant work within our respective companies.

The magic comes when we can bring these brilliant minds together and create meaningful connections and general awareness building of what we are doing, what we are trying to do, our successes and our failures, and can learn from each other.

So that's what these experiences are all about. It’s to share, to connect, and to open up a bit about what we are doing, what has worked, what hasn't worked, and in doing so, can make a bigger impact within our respective companies.

This is the power of building these internal peer-to-peer learning communities. Giving you the capability to unlock the collective intelligence of the room.

We had three main peer exchanges. First, we discussed…

  • How do we retain culture in a hybrid/global workforce?
  • What are the ways you can simulate networking and build a deeply connected and networked organization?

The second peer exchange was focused on…

  • What are the leadership behaviors, qualities, and values that help us succeed in this environment? How do we identify and promote them?
  • What about you as an HR leader - What skills do you need to prioritize as a global HR leader and an HR function in 2023?

The final peer exchange discussed:

  • Gaining buy-in, alignment, and engagement from the top-down and bottom-up?
  • Gaining buy-in, alignment, and engagement with these new strategies from the executive team and other leaders to role model the way - how do we do this?

I could do a whole separate post on the peer exchange items themselves so be sure to stay on the lookout for those in the near future.

To give you a full picture of the experience, we closed out this leadership Exchange with a final panel discussion titled - Breaking Down Geographic & Organizational Silos.

There were a ton of insights gathered but at a minimum, I need to highlight the industry leaders that participated. I would highly recommend that you follow them via LinkedIn for their ongoing leadership in this space.

Our panelists included: 

At the very least, I encourage you to check out our programs at achieve Engagement and learn how to also bring to life more peer-to-peer experiences within your own organization. These can solve some of your most complex challenges - building trust & connection, unlocking coaching & mentoring, new soft-skill development, breaking down silos, and more.

You don't have to go about this alone. 

Connect with us today if you ever want support or a community to go down this journey with! 



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