Developmental Assignments: Do’s and Don’ts

For the rising stars in an organization, developmental assignments are seen as a logical Developmental assignments are great for cultivating new leaders.step toward leadership talent. They can take place in-house or around the world. They could last for a week or for a year. But considering their costs, it’s always a good idea to maximize your return on investment. Here are some do’s and don’ts when considering developmental assignments.

Do: Be absolutely clear about your objectives

Perhaps the worst thing you can do when it comes to developmental assignments is giving one to an employee because they’ve “earned it”. They earn bonuses. The costs associated with assignments means they need to serve your business purposes beyond all else.

What is the goal? Developing a presence in another region or country? How does sending a person there accomplish this goal? If there are alternatives, like finding someone who is already in the location or right for the position, they need to be strongly considered.

Do: Be clear about the employee’s objectives

The process doesn’t end when the plane leaves. The assignee is still an employee and should still have objectives, goals, and a personal development plan to follow. There should still be an oversight system in place, and it should be even stronger considering the distance.

Do: Establish a career path and succession plan

How does this assignment get the employee where they need to be? Before sending them on an extended assignment, everyone needs to know what will happen when they get back. This isn’t the time for “we’ll see what happens”.

Also, giving the employee this valuable experience and then having them jump ship is throwing money away. Wage structures and other legal means should be employed to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Don’t: Leave a vacuum on the other side

Just like you need to be sure what happens when the employee comes back from their assignment, you also need to be sure about what happens to the assignment once that person leaves. Consider one of the assignee’s tasks to be to identify their successor upon the end of the assignment. You don’t want to leave a hole in a new territory where a capable person once stood.

Don’t: Send someone completely unprepared

Talent development is a long-term strategy. Before an employee steps on a plane, they need to be prepared to be as productive as possible during their developmental assignment. For overseas work, that means making the employee global-ready—including language learning. The process for identifying and preparing employees for these assignments should be at least a year before their departure.

Want more information about making your developmental candidates global-ready? Join us and HR.com for our new webinar, “How to Create a Global-Ready Workforce”. New research on effective best practices in employee development will be revealed, as well as steps you can take to better prepare your employees to take overseas assignments. The webinar is March 4th at 1:00 pm ET.

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