Making the Most of the Assignment

• Make sure that the sending and receiving managers, as well as the assignee, understand the goals.

• Use validated selection assessment tools to enhance the expat’s self-awareness about strengths and potential challenges before the assignment.

• Devote adequate time to preparing the assignee and family for the cultural changes. They can participate in traditional instructor-led training or online instruction.

• Provide sufficient resources to help with training if some of the objectives of the international assignment are to develop local talent.

• Be sure to keep connected to the expat so all parties know what is transpiring in both locations as time goes on.

• Create a place to capture what the expat has learned as institutional wisdom for the entire organization.

• Enlist someone knowledgeable about the role and objective for an expat’s performance appraisal.

• Remember the local staff and keep in touch with their development.

Key Points About Repatriation

Often the most problematic part of the assignment is repatriation. It’s the time when the organization can either continue to realize the benefits of the expat’s experience or set the stage for losing valuable talent. Here are some tips to enhance the chances for success:

• Start addressing repatriation at the beginning of the assignment. Discuss the ways in which the experience and knowledge can be accessed by the organization when the person returns. Set up a database for capturing the insights the expat will gain.

• Begin regular discussions with the expat six months before the return date.

• Become familiar with the span of control and scope of authority the expat had while on assignment. It’s probably greater than the position he or she left, and may be greater than the new one he or she is coming home to.

• Remind those who will interact with the repatriated employee about the wealth of new information this person now may have.

• Consider showcasing the new knowledge by having the returned expat conduct a “lunch and learn” or discussion group.

• Debrief the expat and capture that knowledge.

• Acknowledge the expat’s expanded experience.