Management Assessment & Coaching

An effective tool for successful overseas postings

Planning to set up a new sales office or even a major manufacturing plant in China? You’ve already got your funding, business plans, market-entry strategies and overseas business partners all lined up, and perhaps, you already have someone in mind to lead that initiative and you’re sure they’re the right person for the job. The person you’ve picked will have to steer the management of that big investment overseas, and drive the overall business there as the local General Manager or some other key appointment that is crucial to business success.

Then, you start to recall stories related to you by your peers and colleagues, of how top executives fail miserably after being posted overseas. But why?

For a US-headquartered corporation trying to relocate a key executive for an overseas posting, the first issues usually encountered would be having to manage the differences associated with working across transnational and cultural divides. Therefore, it is a top-level decision-making process that is required to pick someone to go overseas, and to oversee the growth of new markets, international joint ventures, alliances, and mergers & acquisitions, and be effective in managing local employees amidst local business conditions. It is seldom realized that those highly regarded executives who are normally effective in familiar domestic or regional environments may be much less successful when transplanted into a totally different country and cultural setting. From our own experience in China, since the early nineties, we have observed that up to half of all multinational companies have experienced expatriate failures. Furthermore, each expatriate failure can cost up to half a year’s salary

Management Assessment and Coaching is a tool that can be designed to assist such companies in selecting the right executives for foreign postings. Because this tool has multiple uses, it can be used initially to gauge an executive’s potential for a future international role, and later, to prepare identified people for specific assignments and postings. Typically, executives will attend and undergo an intensive full-day program at an assessment center, consisting of structured interviews, role-plays, case studies, group discussion and scenario simulation. A qualified management consultant analyzes the details and provides confidential feedback to the participant as well as to corporate decision makers.

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Profiling is another tool to gauge an executive’s international competence and any potential gaps pertaining to job performance, working, attitudes and problem solving skills. Profiling uses psychometric testing, which can be specifically tailored to define special capabilities such as international competence. The closing of any detected competence gaps comes from follow-up individual coaching and a selection of relevant web-based self-directed learning tools. Such tailored programs of executive development will reinforce the individual’s strengths and create an action plan that results in sustainable behavioral change, improved awareness, and overall effectiveness in an international setting.

Your organization’s key executives are its capital and should be regarded as a highly prized resource. They should also be deployed effectively and to maximize their strengths and relevant experience. But how do you prevent them from become ineffective in overseas assignments? So, before the big decision is made to send your ‘right hand man’ to do the job overseas, perform the due diligence required of any big-scale business plan, and to incorporate Management Assessment and Coaching into the overall decision making process, so as to achieve a more predictable business outcome and performance, for the key executive as well as for your company.

Robin Tan is a Director of Sterling Human Resources Pte. Ltd Singapore a subsidiary of Sterling USA.. Sterling now operates branch offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Seoul, Leeds, and London.


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