Listicle: How to maximise the value of expat assignments
Be sure to choose the right person and have a compelling purpose
To prevent your worker from feeling adrift, provide sponsors at both the home base and the destination to oversee his experience
Sending talented employees abroad is a way to leverage the benefits of a global economy. But how do you capitalise on the skills they gain? Here are five tips for maximising the value of expatriate assignments:
1 Have a compelling purpose, and the right person:
First, it’s critical to make a business case for the assignment. It’s also important to select the right people, for the right reasons. This involves three things: choosing a person who is open-minded enough to adapt to the local culture, thinking about the skills that he will develop and identifying how these skills will benefit the organisation.
2 Assign top-notch sponsors:
To prevent your worker from feeling adrift, provide sponsors at both the home base and the destination to oversee his experience.
Successful sponsors are typically people who have been abroad themselves. They should also have enough experience in the organisation that they can help mentor the assignee on how to face potential obstacles and make the most of the assignment.
3 Stay in frequent contact:
Open communication throughout the assignment is critical. While assignees must be proactive in reaching out to their home sponsors, the sponsors should identify how the company can leverage what they’re learning and how they can continue developing at the company. This communication should follow a structured process.
4 Make a reintegration plan:
Communication should include a conversation six months before the assignment ends to discuss reintegration. This allows the employee to outline the top skills, qualifications and insights achieved during the assignment and to express how he can incorporate them at the home office.
In exchange, the sponsors should elaborate on how they envision the employee leveraging the experience. Once the next steps are established, build in reintegration time. The employee will likely need to relearn the old corporate culture.
5 Develop ways to share knowledge:
For companies to get the most out of expat assignments, they must help employees catalogue and disseminate what they learned. There are a number of ways to do this, such as having assignees write for an internal blog and hosting special company sessions when they return. – Copyright Harvard Business Review 2016
Previously published in The Irish Times.
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