When we focus on international career development opportunities for full time employees, we need to review the current situation of international assignments. Relocating abroad for a specific job position is challenging, it improves the individual skill set but managed poorly can lead to frustration and disappointment.
Professor Benjamin Bader explains:
International assignments are an essential part of the daily business of multinational organisations. While historically many companies’ motive was to fill skills gaps in overseas subsidiaries, HR managers’ claims that assignments where the primary motive is developmental have been steadily growing in number.
Academic research demonstrates that, in today’s global business environment, the personal competencies gained can also positively reflect on corporate performance.
What issues can we find on that relocation processes?
- Many postings fail because of culture shock, the employee and spouse feel unhappy with some aspects of the expat life.
- Repatriates are not satisfied with their position after returning home, they perform poorly and eventually they leave.
“Many organisations send people on assignments to help develop their careers, but they lose them when they get back because they don´t know what to do with them” “They also overlook that can be a “reverse cultural shock”, family, work and yourself have changed”.
Paul Bailey -General manager at RW3 CultureWizard-.
“While people tend to understand, they need to prepare themselves when moving to Japan or China, they fail to prepare if they are moving from the UK to US”.
Heather Hughes, wife of an expat explains.
Paul Bailey shares his experience as a British expat in New York “People spoke the same language, use the same buzzwords but they had radically different ideas”. In the end I took a cultural awareness course six months into the assignment, which helped me to understand their expectations and cultural differences.”
Benjamin Bader´s research indicates that most repatriates experienced some sort of career advancement, especially for the ones that took a developmental assignment. International assignments are considered a good way to move up the ladder but some return to their home country in the same exact role as before. It´s important to work on communication, as having mismatched expectations can lead to great disappointments.
Individuals need to prepare for the re-entry and HR needs to support them, like meeting them at the airport, give them time to adjust at work, giving them a mentor who´s been through the same transition and providing the partner with help to study or find a job.
Simon Richardson -Global Mobility Consultant- “Conversations about potential roles should begin well in advance of the planned return”
As companies move employees across borders to enable global growth, talent mobility has become a key contributor to an organization’s overall success, yet the role of human resources and mobility functions in equipping their companies with the right talent is more challenging and critical than ever before.
The Future of Global Mobility . 2016 Global Mobility Trends
Information extracted from:
- The tricky logistics of global mobility. People Management Magazine
- Mismatched expectations can thwart the power of overseas assignments