With developing markets helping to power a rebounding economy, it’s no surprise that more companies are sending employees on international assignments. In fact, according to a Cartus Relocation study, 57 percent of companies feel their international assignments will increase over the next two years.
However, the failure rate for such assignments is estimated at 40 percent. Selecting the right employee for the assignment can go a long way toward making sure you’re in the 60 percent. Here are the personality traits to be looking for.
Obviously, the ability to speak the language of the host country is ideal (and easily trained with today’s online language learning solutions), but there are many other communication skills that help the foreign employee.
Cultural awareness is key. You want to make sure the employee isn’t spreading faux pas around Shanghai. There is also the ability to effectively communicate with the home office from long distance. You want to make sure “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t happen and the employee has the ability to still contribute.
Some locations are easier for Americans to work in than others, but there are still many changes that the well-prepared employee is able to navigate both in setting up their work environment and in their personal life. Struggling to find a paper supplier for the office only adds to the stress of the job.
Working overseas is often working without a safety net. When things don’t go the employee’s way, can they find a way to make things work without constant help from the home office?
It may seem shallow, but you want to make sure the employee is healthy. International assignment might be the most stressful experience in a person’s career and you want to make sure they can handle it. The last thing you want is a seriously ill employee in a foreign country.
All of the above—for the employee’s family
If the employee’s family will be joining them on the assignment and they’re miserable there, the employee will be miserable and might even pull the plug early. Don’t take the employee’s word for their family’s feelings about the assignment. Try to meet them yourself before the selection is finalized to gauge their opinion, and ensure you are supporting their linguistic and cultural adaptation to the host country as part of their benefits package.