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Not every employee is suitable for an assignment abroad, regardless of the length of the stay. Provided suitable specialist knowledge is available, several requirements must be met at the same time during an assignment abroad:
Personal requirements of the employee
In general, an assignment abroad requires personal openness towards foreign cultures and understanding tolerance towards foreign behavioural patterns. A foreign assignment is only successful if the employee has the ability to adapt to foreign behaviour. It requires a strong interest in the foreign environment and the will to find one's way around it and to assert oneself there. A foreign assignment requires the ability to improvise in unusual situations and to take unexpected environmental influences into account. This requires an appropriate feeling for culturally determined, different expectations of one's own leadership style.
Communication skills are particularly important
The employee's ability to communicate is particularly important. He or she needs an extra large and sensitive receptiveness as well as the ability to communicate. This ability is not only important in terms of representing a company's own product range, but also in terms of dealing with new business partners. This requires a high degree of commitment to his own company and its corporate culture. These requirements can only be met by those who have the will to achieve something extraordinary.
Leadership competence and sensitivity
A manager is also expected to have an eye for the essentials and be able to concentrate on the important problems. In direct connection with this is a pronounced decision-making ability with the corresponding feeling for timing and flexibility. When dealing with foreign cultures, delegating tasks is a particularly sensitive area that requires not only tact, but also the willingness to compromise and learn.
It would be a momentous mistake to outsource employees who have become disagreeable in the parent company in this way.
2.2 Head Office Staff or New Employees?
The motives of an employee for a stay abroad are weighted differently in individual cases, but are often identical in typology. Motivating are the interest in the other culture or even the spirit of adventure, the interest in shaping a career in a supportive way, the interest in a higher salary and a changed status.
On the other hand, the aspects of physical and social security in the accustomed environment, the secure job as well as the family and social ties in the sending country have an effect.
The international orientation of a company requires the secondment of employees under certain circumstances even in countries where the living conditions are less attractive but the market opportunities for the company are all the greater.
Often, only a certain employee can be considered for such a task due to his or her special qualifications. There is an entrepreneurial interest in the employee being able to work flexibly, for example in other countries as well as in the country in which he is working, for other tasks or in being transferred back to the country of assignment in order to make use of his particular experience here.
Use of expatriates often essential
Head office personnel will be of decisive importance especially in the initial phase. Because only the head office staff knows the corporate culture, its philosophy as well as the product range and the goals announced. This way of thinking can only be conveyed by new employees after a longer and more intensive training period.
This disadvantage can be balanced only by careful planning of the foreign activity. In many cases, a particularly good knowledge of the foreign market situation is the decisive criterion for hiring a new employee. It remains up to the entrepreneurial decision to select a new employee who does not know the corporate culture. In such cases, experience shows that communication difficulties and bad investments are inevitable. The numerous and unpredictable misunderstandings often lead not only to a premature separation from this employee, but also to a loss on the future market that cannot be compensated.
Loss of contact with the parent company
The own employees receive a special status in the company with regard to their work abroad. However, depending on the planned duration of their stay abroad, they often lose contact with domestic changes in the company. This is an inevitable situation that must be balanced out. At the beginning of the planning phase as well as during the stay abroad, experience has shown that it is uncertain how the expatriate can later be reintegrated into the company. The high demands that a foreign assignment brings with it shape the behaviour and working methods of the expatriate in a sustainable way. The high degree of self-employment abroad is often replaced by a hierarchically determined narrow instruction structure at home.
Career and Reintegration Program
It is therefore advisable to develop a career plan for the expatriate which should above all include a recognised and pragmatic reintegration programme. The loss of decision-making autonomy that occurs during reintegration can only be taken into account in the long term by transferring further areas of responsibility. It should therefore be carefully considered from the outset whether the expatriate will look after this market at the head office after his or her stay abroad.
Expatriation is expensive
The expatriation of an own employee is associated with high costs. A large part of the running costs is caused by the regular salary. However, this cost factor could be considerably reduced by employing local employees on site. At this point, the high wage and ancillary wage costs in the Federal Republic of Germany should only be mentioned as an indication. However, since local employees are generally not familiar with the product range and corporate culture and may not have the necessary know-how to work the selected market to the advantage of the parent company, a local manager of the parent company is required on the one hand and the training of local employees in the parent company on the other is recommended. In this way, the secondment of head office staff can be considerably reduced, at least in the long term.
Nevertheless, the experience values in this area are very different. There is no doubt that this approach is not suitable for every company. However, the personnel strategy should always be considered and evaluated against the background of the investment activities. In some foreign host countries, the hiring of local employees is made more difficult by official approvals. In these countries, recruitment takes place through recruitment agencies or the relevant employment authorities. Employment agency monopolies have disadvantages, but also some advantages. While one cannot always be sure whether the local employee will actually receive the salary allocated to him, it is often these monopoly companies that oversee the market for qualified managers and specialists. A careful selection of the service provider is therefore necessary.
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