Five Pitfalls to Avoid for Assignment Success

September 23, 2015 12:27:54 PM EDT | By: Michelle Dopps
Assignment pitfalls to avoid

Global demand for skilled labor is high, which means due diligence is sometimes sacrificed in order to get qualified employees from point A to point B. While efficiency is important, the support work done ahead of, throughout and following a relocation cannot be neglected. Check out the following mistakes organizations should avoid to ensure relocation success and keep clear of assignment failure.

Pitfall One: Lack of Mentorship

Your employees shouldn’t go into a new environment blind – it’s your job to guide them and provide them with the support they need.

In-area mentorship can be a valuable tool for preventing culture shock or clashes within the business. A local contact who has been through a similar relocation or has been trained to provide support is a simple way to give your employee a helping hand. Relocated employees, whether in-nation or abroad, should be given time and resources to help adapt to new assignments, new policies and new needs. A failure to do so can result in goal misalignment—and, in worse cases, assignment failure.

Pitfall Two: Shortage of Communications

Communications should be well established between distant employees and home-based decision makers. Individuals should be up to date with evolving company culture, industry engagements and other changes. Particularly if an assignee will be returning to their home location at some point, they need to remain in the loop and feel secure that there is a place for him or her upon return.

Success revolves around mutual understanding and shared goals.

Pitfall Three: Culture Shock

Sometimes, especially in international relocations, the sheer differences that exist in workplaces can undermine employee relocation efforts. A high percentage of international relocations collapse due to cultural misunderstandings. While technical skill and resource management are important, personal unhappiness of employees and their families can be a big factor in assignment success.

As discussed above, providing employees with a local resource can be a big help in preventing a failure due to culture shock. Additionally, you should consider instituting a candidate assessment program to evaluate employees before they’re even chosen for relocations. This will give you the chance to find out more about an employee’s thoughts about the destination location and see if they are personally suited to such a stressful (yet exciting!) opportunity. Lexicon clients can take advantage of cultural training and other services that are available to better prepare employees for the cultural challenges ahead.

Pitfall Four: Underdevelopment of International Technical Skills

Technical skills shouldn’t be forgotten, however, as global operations require adaptive thought processes and new approaches to old requirements. International assignments, while aligned with the same company and employees’ former positions, are still new to employees. Additionally, global locations often shift technical aptitude needs with the area’s resources.

While you don’t need to hire someone with completely different skills, the technical needs in new areas should be considered. Is additional training necessary? Or maybe just a brief introduction to the differences in this new location? Think about and account for this ahead of the relocation.

Pitfall Five: Misunderstanding of Employee Cost of Living

The employee’s cost of living, too, should be considered. Commutes, utilities, food expenses and even cultural interaction affect costs of living. This is an important one to plan for when setting up an assignment – proving to your employee that this relocation will not affect their standard of living will give them more confidence that this relocation is the right move.

Lexicon is able to provide a cost of living analysis for clients, which ensures everyone is informed and aware of cost of living challenges that need to be addressed.

The Takeaway:

Proper planning and communication can make a tremendous impact on assignment success. Your global mobility partner can play a key role in helping both the company and the relocating employee understand what is involved and how to avoid pitfalls.

Topics: employee relocation, assignment, candidate assessment

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