Successful Repatriate Training

The retention of corporate professionals after a global assignment is key to the future success of your global organization. How can you minimize the challenges that your repatriate employees face after returning from an overseas assignment? How can the knowledge they have learned abroad be transferred and shared? These five steps can help.

1. Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock. Until fairly recently, the idea of offering training to professionals who were coming home was considered odd. Repatriates were often thrown back into their jobs with no discussion of their international assignments. Research has shown that a home culture can seem strange after having spent a period of time negotiating a new culture. Providing repatriates with an outlet to discuss their feelings can be crucial to successful repatriation.

2. Transferring knowledge. Sound repatriate training should include time for the repatriate to discuss how to transfer the knowledge he or she has learned. This may best be done on an informal, just-in-time basis during a special project, or during meetings with the boss, or during special meetings of their team.

3. Mentoring expatriates. The repatriate can serve a key role in helping the organization develop a global workforce by serving as a mentor to expatriates going to the same country or part of the world. The information exchange between the repatriate and expatriate can help ensure a positive experience for the expatriate by alerting him or her to the challenges faced when working abroad.

4. Conducting repatriate forums. Organizing a group of repatriates who can share their knowledge of international business during regularly scheduled presentations gives a clear signal to all employees that global experience is valued. In addition, the networking between repatriates can help your organization build a more satisfied global workforce.

The strain and uncertainty of the overseas assignment can be reduced when the expatriate knows what career opportunities are available upon return. This knowledge also can create a much smoother transition once the employee returns home.

To remain competitive globally, organizations need to make it clear to all employees that global experiences are encouraged. One way to do that is through an organizational design that promotes international assignments. Another way is to provide repatriate training programs.

Too often, repatriate professionals leave their organizations because they feel that their knowledge is undervalued. These five steps can help prevent this from occurring.

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. Successful Repatriate Training, Neil S. Orkin, Performance in Practice, Reprinted with the permission of the American Society for Training and Development, Alexandria, Virginia.