International assignments are unquestionably one of the quickest routes to building a global talent pool within any organization. However, for too many companies the only criteria for sending an employee on an international assignment are technical skills and willingness to go. With so little attention to whether this is a “best fit,” the risk of the assignee and/or their family experiencing difficulties is high and assignment failure is a possibility. Consider implementing one or more of these into your process to make sure the right person is going to the right place at the right time:
1. Self-assessment questionnaire: Give your employees a pre-assignment questionnaire that directs a conversation between them and their family about their lifestyle at home, and what needs to be recreated or maintained in the host country (for example, financial responsibilities, elderly or sick relatives and their children’s needs). The impact on the partner’s career is increasingly becoming a consideration for any family. Addressing any potential “surprises” prior to the move is always much easier.
2. Timing: Where possible, increase the decision-to-departure timeline, particularly for developmental assignments and dual-career families. Making sure that your top talent can access an international opportunity at a time when they can perform at their best will open up the flow of talent – particularly for female high potentials and current leadership.
3. Candidate assessments: Introduce a candidate assessment program that uses competence-based inventories that are debriefed by a neutral coach. This type of risk assessment does not always have to be a “go/no-go” decision, but can be a way of identifying possible areas of strengths and challenges in the potential host location. Skill building starts with self-awareness!
Characteristics of successful assignees:
• Timing is right for the family
• Open to new experiences
• Tolerance for ambiguity
• Sense of humor
• Cultural self-awareness
• Knowledge of the host location (culture, values, history, politics, economy, language, etc.) • Able to build relationships and rapport
• Love of learning (opposite of know-it-all)
Adding these steps to your pre-departure process does not require a big budget and will help to quickly identify if an employee is the best fit for an international assignment. For more information, speak to our mobility advisors.