Six Steps to Successful Global Succession Planning

global succession planningA hot topic in human resources development circles has been global succession planning. How can companies best meet their human resources development needs abroad and track the global skills of their people? How can a global professional be kept connected to the home office and satisfied with their job and organization? Here are six steps to help you with this important challenge.

1) Database Management Systems – Organizations need systems that note the international work experience and foreign language skills of employees. Training professionals need to be able to make ad hoc queries on a computer to get employee profile information. Windows based programs exist that can make the job of finding the appropriate professional much easier.

2) Selection – Interview candidates to verify their interest in a foreign assignment. The professional may not feel that the assignment is a good fit for his or her current professional and personal situation. It is far better to have this information before the employee is chosen than to risk a failed assignment which can be extremely costly for both the individual and the organization.

3) Mentoring Programs – Providing the global professional with a mentor is critical to the success of the assignment. The mentor, ideally someone at a higher level in the organization who has completed a successful international assignment, can inform the professional on how to navigate his or her assignment and also let the professional know what is happening back at the home office.

4) Keeping in Touch – By installing a computer or fax machine in an expatriate’s home, he or she can receive daily messages from the home office. This helps keep him or her informed and feeling part of the team. Some firms have created special newsletters for expatriates to help them stay current with organization news and information. Certainly, regularly scheduled trips back to the home office so the employee can be briefed on important company news and meet with his or her mentor is key.

5) Repatriation – The organization needs to sit down with repatriates and help them map out a personal action plan noting the challenges they feel they may face. Another challenge is deciding how the knowledge and information that repatriates have gained can best be shared with home-office professionals.

6) Retention – It is not uncommon for repatriates to leave the organization after an overseas assignment. Losing a key global professional can be very costly. Having a clear career path for repatriates is critical, as is allowing them to serve as mentors and providing a forum for them to share the knowledge they have gained with future expatriates.

Following these six steps will allow your organization to become more global and enable you to develop and retain a team of global professionals.

Neil S. Orkin is a principal with Global Training Systems, a global management consulting firm specializing in human resource development located in Hillsborough, New Jersey.