Set agendas will help keep expats on track

first_imgI just attended the SHRM Global Forum Conference in Los Angeles, with morethan 600 attendees from around the world. During a session I taught, a young lady asked what to do with an expatriatewho had been in a host country for eight years with no plans to come home. Isuggested that she simply tell him the assignment is over, full stop. It is a common question: how do we get an expat out of their comfy lifestylein Singapore or Brussels? Why don’t we have local staff ready to step into therole? I hear this question far too often. Expatriate management is an essentialpart of our jobs. We must look more closely at our strategies for managing ourmost expensive employees. Any expat leaving your shores for an assignment musthave a clear, bespoke agenda, and an equally clear exit strategy. We need to start addressing this when the first line manager says: “Iwant to send Joe Bloggs to Kuala Lumpur.” HR’s immediate question must be:”To do what, and for how long?” Without that vital question, theassignment is likely to go wildly astray. I believe it is vital that we set an agenda and tell employees why they aregoing somewhere, what they are expected to accomplish, and how long they areexpected to stay. We also have an obligation to begin discussing repatriationbefore they have even left their home country. A key component is working out why the person is heading out on anassignment. Typically, I’d expect the reason to be either development for theexpatriate, knowledge transference, development/training of a local national,or ‘firefighting’ a particular problem. In some cases, a single assignmentcould include all of these. Pre-assignment discussions of repatriation should include a strong dose ofexpectation-setting. Even if your company isn’t ready to commit to a new rolefor the person, it is just as important to tell them so. For an exit strategy to be effective, we must reconsider the initial agendathat sent the expat out. Whether we localise the role, determine the project iscomplete, or declare victory in the transferral of knowledge to local staff, itis essential that there is a pre-determined view of what the end game shouldlook like. Failure to have one will cause a supposedly valuable asset to beunderutilised or ill-deployed. Make a checklist of all your expats worldwide. If you and their line managercannot articulate what the person is doing and when they will be back, you mayhave potentially failed your business. If you are currently an expat without anagenda and an exit strategy, you need to create one yourself – or one will haveto be created for you. Put simply, an expat without an agenda and an exit strategy is an example ofbad HR and bad business. If you are an HR person, you must work with your linemanagers to ensure these factors are established. By Lance Richards, Board director, SHRM Global Forum Related posts:No related photos. Set agendas will help keep expats on trackOn 15 Apr 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img

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