The unique factors of each employee's international assignment make managing them a truly global undertaking. There are always a variety of moving parts that companies have to consider for properly managing through the various stages of the assignment process. There are those things which the company will handle in-house versus those that are better served through outsourced relationships. In general, most agree that it takes a well-coordinated village to consistently generate a higher ROI for the company, create an energizing experience where both the employee and the organization grow and to properly address all the areas of risk and exposure that can creep into a program as talent works in numerous home/host country combinations.

It's certainly not new for companies to send employees on international assignments and you can imagine that there are thousands of articles of advice on how best to manage it all, or what best practices you should absolutely do, or what you should absolutely NOT do! But every company must look at their own resources and capabilities to consider what will work best for them as they grapple with designing the most efficient, cost-effective program that can respond to the various stakeholder needs within the business.  

When looking at the phases of the expatriate journey, many program managers would agree that their programs follow to some degree:

  • A candidate pre-decision phase
  • An authorization & set-up phase
  • A pre-arrival or departure phase
  • An arrival & settling-in phase
  • An on-assignment phase
  • A repatriation or alternatively the localization phase
  • A post repatriation/localized phase

In this article, they offer some advice that connects to the above phases. The ingredients in their recipe for assignment success are:

  1. Pick the right person
  2. Prepare them well before they go
  3. Maintain communication and support throughout the assignment
  4. Measure their success
  5. Repatriate them properly

No arguments here! While these are definitely key ingredients in the recipe to a successful expatriate program, they are sometimes much more difficult to put into action and consistently coordinate across an entire global organization. Then again, nobody said it would be easy!