Developing Successful International Employees

Cross-cultural training; international assignments; international training; international skills; international assignments

Businesses cannot enter and succeed in new international markets without first hiring and developing successful international employees.  This is because businesses cannot consistently rely on sending domestic employees on long-term overseas assignments.  When businesses expand into growing markets, they need to develop and groom local talent for supervisory, managerial and other positions of responsibility. If companies fail to train and promote internally, local workers will eventually discover the “glass ceiling” and recognize their potential for growth is limited and seek work elsewhere.

For companies to make their local workforces their strongest asset, they should focus on the following.

1.     Cultivate Skills

Businesses must realize that their potential relies on the strength of their employees.  Consequently, businesses must invest in developing employees so that they have the skills and knowledge to work smarter and more efficiently with greater motivation and enhanced productivity.  Training should also focus on team building and communication skills.  Employees should know that they are valuable to the company and feel good about the work they do.

2.     Internationalize Employees

Businesses should also identify employees for international projects by weighing their technical knowledge, previous training, acquired education, intercultural skills and communication skills.  Full service agencies such as 24 Hour Translation services often providing training services and assistance.  Bear in mind that domestic success doesn’t guarantee international success.  A person must recognize and respect cultural differences and, when needed, be flexible and open to them. Because overseas  assignments can fail when workers become homesick, it is critical to identify  candidates who have a keen interest in and fascination with other cultures.


3.     Sponsor Training

Before sending employees on overseas assignments, businesses should introduce them to the problems expatriates face by initiating them and their families into the new cultural environment through cultural appreciation and linguistic training programs.

4.     Establish Repatriation Plans

Before employees embark on their overseas assignments, businesses should make sure that the employees understand that the company has a place for them when they return.  If the plan seems sketchy or vague, the company may lose employees that it has already made significant investments in.

5.     Include Families

Before an employee accepts an international assignment, ensure that the spouse and children understand the sacrifices they will need to make to support the decision to relocate and be committed for the duration.  Often companies fail at developing successful international employees for overseas assignments because they fail to acclimate the wife and children satisfactorily to the intercultural challenges and vulnerabilities that their new lives present.  She feels isolated in an unfamiliar foreign culture, cannot speak the language and has no social or safety network to support herself and her family.

6.     Mandate Intercultural Competence

Intercultural competence is the most important skill needed sought after in developing successful international employees for international assignments.  A relocation program that narrowly identifies the smartest, most knowledgeable employees can easily fail if it does not weigh the interest, patience and respect an individual shows towards foreign cultures.  A company would be foolish to think that it can simply transplant a promising native U.S. worker into a foreign country successfully without substantial cultural expansion, immersion and indoctrination.

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