Global Mobility in Succession Planning, Part 2: Structuring Expatriate Assignments for Maximum Impact

Developing global leaders is vitally important to global companies today. Leaders with a truly global mindset will be better equipped to capitalize on global opportunities faster and react quickly to (and perhaps even avoid) challenges that emerge. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to develop a global mindset that truly permeates leaders’ daily decision making and practices.

There are three key activities for organizations to keep in mind when structuring any international assignment:

1. Create a specific developmental plan. It’s important to specify which activities are targeted development goals for the leader, what the leader should learn from each, and how the learning will be demonstrated and codified. Specific learning activities, such as reflection and mentoring, should be defined for each developmental goal. Additionally, the plan should emphasize the importance of resilience and learning from failure.

“delivering results is important, but
realistic expectations must be set around timing, winning as a team,
and frequent failures.”
—DANIEL RUSSELL, RHR INTERNATIONAL

2. Manage host-country team expectations. There is an assumption that the expat will be able to deliver ROI orders of magnitude beyond their (real or assumed) expensive relocation package. Of course, delivering results is important, but realistic expectations must be set around timing, winning as a team, and likely, frequent failures. In fact, including three months just for cultural immersion—before making any business progress—is advisable in most cases.

3. Maintain contact with “home base.” Expats will need both support and accountability to continue to make progress against their plan and make changes as needed in response to their context. In addition, it’s important to communicate monthly with an executive sponsor from home base to maintain visibility, provide encouragement, and continue career planning.

If organizations want to increase the likelihood of success of global assignments, it’s advisable to put in the extra effort to plan, set expectations and overcommunicate throughout the process.

Click here to read RHR International partner Daniel Russell’s complete blog post on how expat assignments can help develop global leadership skills.

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