Skip to Main Content

If you don’t have a plan for your global contributor’s succession, you’re training your competition’s talent. This has never been truer. The “war” for talent is reheated to the level of molten lava.

We are frequently asked to support the career transition of our customers’ “expat repatriation.” These people are typically senior in title and compensation, and they have done good work in their global assignment. In spite of this, their employer has no place for them upon their return so they are given great severance packages, along with our repatriation services. Recently, a new wrinkle has presented itself: the employee doesn’t want to come back at all.

Regardless of the situation, a company’s lack of understanding and planning is often at fault. The cost of bad hires has been estimated as high as 5x, and this doesn’t even factor in the cost of losing great talent.

Getting things done without planning ensures a bad outcome. For example, if your boss says, “Get someone to Budapest ASAP,” reacting without a process that looks at all the factors can result in sending the wrong person into a situation. That person is then destined to fail and/or provided no plan for what comes next. As a result, companies need to consult at least a basic checklist before “sending and spending” abroad. Companies also need a succession plan for those who are sent out. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Why do you need someone to go to another country?
  • What do they need to accomplish while they’re there?
  • Why would they want to go? How long do you need them there?
  • Who meets the checklist of good choices?
  • What is planned for them after the assignment is over?

Start with a full description of the role

Plan for what comes after. Is there a role and location to which the person can return after completing their assignment?

In planning, companies should evaluate various possibilities, such as the employee wanting to stay, go to another assignment or return to the “mothership.” Companies should also evaluate the goals of the employee, since that directly impacts their efforts, and a company’s ability to retain talent. Initial descriptions can begin with what your company needs, but, before you start the process in earnest, repackage it to describe why the opportunity is desirable.

Review who might be a viable candidate for the work

Just because someone has the talent to be successful in the role doesn’t mean they’re a good fit or that they want to go. Making an employee do something is more expensive and less likely to succeed. You need real insight into how they would like to develop and their vision for how to get to their goals. If you don’t already have effective measurement tools in place for your mobility candidates, this is one area that’s worth the investment.

Current psychometric tools available to the HR practitioner provide deep insight into the way a candidate thinks, works, collaborates and adapts. Find this out in advance of any presentation of the opportunity.

You don’t offer flight school to someone who’s afraid of heights.

Find out if they want to go

You’ve confirmed that there is a path forward in your company that aligns with your employee’s vision of advancement, but you’re not done yet. The family’s opinion is just as important. As the saying goes: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” In this case “Mama” might be a partner, children or family members left behind.

Provide cultural and geographic orientation

When everything is aligned and you have the correct, committed candidate going to the global assignment, increase their odds of success by getting them some help in acclimating to the culture and geography. This isn’t just where to shop and whether it’s okay to take someone’s photo. It’s important to know the business behavior expectations of the country. They need to understand the cultural norms and mindset or they will fail with good intention.