Send­ing the right peo­ple

The HR Digest - - Training & Development -

HR man­agers of­ten send peo­ple abroad for the wrong rea­sons. More of­ten than not, they send the wrong peo­ple! This is not be­cause the said per­son lacks the nec­es­sary skills. Man­agers of­ten send peo­ple who lack the abil­ity to ad­just to dif­fer­ent cus­toms and busi­ness

prac­tices. In other words, send­ing peo­ple who are cul­tur­ally il­lit­er­ate can cost you a lot of money.

For in­stance, a se­nior man­ager at a U.S. au­tomaker who was an ex­pert at ne­go­ti­at­ing busi­ness deals was trans­ferred to China to con­duct sim­i­lar deals. The man’s con­fronta­tional style of­fended the con­sen­sus-minded Chi­nese to the point where con­trac­tors and sup­pli­ers did not even speak to him di­rectly. More­over, the man was un­will­ing to change his ways. He was soon called back to the com­pany’s home of­fice, and his re­place­ment was sent to China to undo the great dam­age he had done.

Make sure the ex­pa­tri­ates are fully ap­praised of the chal­lenges, is­sues and dif­fer­ences. The sin­gle most im­por­tant part for an HR man­ager is to make sure the ex­pa­tri­ates un­der­stand the liv­ing and work­ing en­vi­ron­ment they are about to en­ter is ex­po­nen­tially dif­fer­ent from their home coun­try’s. Au­tomaker Honda be­gins ex­pa­tri­ate as­sign­ments with clear strate­gic ob­jec­tives such as the de­vel­op­ment of a new car model. The as­signees are asked to fin­ish a sur­vey to iden­tify per­sonal strengths and weak­nesses re­lated to the in­ter­na­tional as­sign­ments. Six months be­fore the ex­pa­tri­ate is ex­pected to re­turn, the com­pany ini­ti­ates a train­ing process to lo­cate a suit­able job for the per­son. This in­cludes a de­brief­ing in­ter­view upon repa­tri­a­tion to be in­clu­sive of the lessons learned from the in­ter­na­tional as­sign­ment.

Due to Honda’s in­te­grated ap­proach, nearly all of its ex­pa­tri­ates con­sis­tently per­form be­yond ex­pec­ta­tions. More­over, the turnover rate for re­turn­ing ex­pa­tri­ate is less than five per­cent. Most im­por­tant, ex­pa­tri­ates con­sis­tently achieve the key strate­gic ob­jec­tives es­tab­lished at the be­gin­ning of each in­ter­na­tional as­sign­ment.

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