Careful cultural assessment and training can mean the difference between a successful assignment and a costly, failed one. Companies commonly invest $1 million or more in an international assignment, yet about 30 percent of assignees end up returning early – and an alarming 70 percent fall short of the goals established for the assignment. Too often, these failed international relocation assignments are blamed on poor housing choices, unhappy spouses and children or misdirected emotions, when in fact the real reason is cultural disconnection.
Select the right candidate
One of the mistakes companies commonly make is to pick the candidate with the best technical qualifications, with little consideration of how he or she (and his or her family) will function in a different location and culture. For example, it’s typically assumed that a hard-charging, effective New York executive will be equally successful in Tokyo. In fact, taking an employee out of his or her comfort zone can disrupt both professional and personal rhythms, upsetting the family unit and compromising workplace effectiveness. To succeed in a markedly different environment, the candidate (and his or her family) must possess flexibility and a sense of adventure.
Before an offer is made, a certified cross-cultural training provider can use targeted tests and exercises to assess the family’s flexibility and adaptability for an international assignment. Human resources professionals and hiring managers can use this information to determine the likelihood of a successful assignment and even to build a pool of vetted, prospective assignees.