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Now Departing: How to identify the right employee for an international assignment

International assignments can be a win-win for businesses and employees. Businesses can enhance a foreign office with a particular employee’s expertise, and the employee gets a change to grow in his or her career while experiencing a new culture. These benefits come at a cost though, as international assignments are a significant investment, which isn’t to dismiss their value, just to emphasis the importance of identifying the right person.

But how do you select the right employee for an international assignment? Often seniority dictates who gets the opportunity, or at the very least, who gets first right-of-refusal. The problem with this approach is it dismisses other factors that should be considered when determining who to send abroad.

Cross-cultural evaluation and training

The challenge is that there’s no simple test. There are a host of factors to evaluate, pertaining to the employee, your organization and the destination. This is a process that can take a considerable amount of time.

If time is short, but you don’t want to shortchange your review process, one solution is to hire an intercultural training company, which specializes in evaluating and preparing employees for an international relocation. Some may scoff at this as an unnecessary expense, but there is much more to international assignments than getting on a plane and performing your job in another country.

An employee’s personality plays a large part in how he or she adapts to a new culture, which can be extremely difficult for some people. This can be a significant problem because if your employee or their family has trouble adapting to the culture, it’s much more likely the assignment could fail. Intercultural training companies help identify ways for individuals to best adapt to a new environment based on their personality and the destination’s culture. The State Department offers a resource page of companies and associations that can help in this area.

Giving employees the opportunity to work overseas, whether on a temporary assignment or as a full-fledged expat, can be a tremendous benefit for the company and the employee. It is a decision that needs to be fully evaluated to make sure the goals of both the company and employee are fully realized. If you need help relocating an employee for international assignment, know we’re happy to help.