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International corporations need to have an effective international human resources management team that is able to make sound decisions on the right way to develop their human capital; generally there are three ways that they can develop the work force.
The ways are localization approach, expatriates approach and third country approach. Whichever the method, it should ensure they maintain quality and quantity workforce; the department of human resources in multinationals can be central point, head office, or/and at the foreign country level (Hollinshead and Leat, 1995).
The approach of expertise involves the foreign company sending people from the country with knowledge and experience to manage and operate a foreign investments; human resources are the driving force of an organisation, thus they need to be well managed to develop an orchestrate team and tap their intellectual knowledge effectively.
When expatriates are deployed, there is physical relocation of the expatriate, probably his or her family, and if the expatriate has a team of operation, they may go together. The relocation destabilizes the psychological comfort of the expatriate and exposes him or her to another life and cultural setting different from what he or she is used to; the instability may reduce the efficiency of the manager.
To ensure that the expatriate adjust effectively and fast, there are some human resources management strategic functions that need to be undertaken (Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars, 2000). This paper analyzes human resources actions multinational corporations (MNCs) should take to facilitate expatriates adjustment.
The theory of Expatriates
MNCs have the role of maintaining qualified and efficient human capital; when they decide that they are going to human resources finances with expatriates, they should ensure they offer the expatriates assistance that facilitates quick and effective adjustment.
The rate at which they adjust to new environment will determine how well their intellectual knowledge will be tapped and how they will be able to attain their objectives and mission in the foreign company.
The cost of deploying experts is high thus their failure is detrimental to an organisation thus they need to be given the right tools and supports to effectively perform. Failure can occur in two main ways; when he underperforms or returns home without having completed the task or when he takes a long time before adjusting and producing results for the company.
There are cases that MNC have expatriates in their foreign mission only or they may have as holding a certain office as others are occupied by the operating countries locals; in whichever version adjustment or the so called cost of orientation or familiarization has to be incurred. When sending expatriates, there are three main ways of approach, they are, flexpatriates and impetrates (Bamber and Lansbury, 1998).
MNCs can be divided into multi-domestic, global, transnational or international; they all have different features and characteristics however when it comes to development of staffs and facilitation of expatriates adjustments, there is no difference.
There are some basic functions that should be looked in when managing expatriates; they start from preparation to orienting an expert back to country of origin. In general, expatriates adjustment is influenced by three main factors: individual adjustment factors, environmental issues factors, and position-related issues.
All the areas must be well addressed early enough before the expert has messed up with the assignment given (Hoogvelt, 2001). The actions to facilitate fast adjustments are:
Foreign mission preparing and Planning
MNCs operates a chain of business establishments in foreign countries; when they are developing them, they should know the best approach they are going to use for human resources and enact such appropriate measures to have the work force on board.
When determining the individual or individuals to send for a foreign mission; the company is limited to certain factors like the level of knowledge, education, foreign experience, and work experience of the person to get the post.
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When selecting the particular person to engage, the initial action is to determine the task that he is going to undertake in the foreign country; for instance when an engineer is needed, the search will be limited to engineers in the company or the MNC will seek someone with an engineering experience from the holding country’s labour force.
MNCs prefer to use the staffs they have for such assignments as they are aware of their potential, however they may outsource some expatriates in some areas. In the case that task to be undertaken needs an existing team, then the MNC has no option other that sending the team (Triandis, 2006).
With the tasks and the kind of employees needed, the MNC adopts at least two methods of outsourcing for these people; internal recruitment (focus on people who have been working in the company and have such required skills and experience) and external recruitments (this is where the company seeks to use people whom have never worked for the company but have a proven record of high performance).
In whichever the approach, the IHRM team should ensure they get the most qualified people for the mission; this stage is crucial since if a point or step is missed, then the company stand to suffer (Trudel ,2009)
Under internal recruitment, it can take the form of direct appointment of people whom the management think they can perform the task or it can be through application after the offer has been placed in the MNCs job advertising board.
In direct appointment, IHRM teams should objectively analyze the performance, experience and exposure that a candidate has, approaches a potential expatriate or team of expatriates. When using direct appointment, care should be taken not to force or dictate terms on the expatriate; free will should be allowed as well as time to rethink the decision by the appointed party.
One mistake that MNCs when appointing an expatriate is to deny them their free mind and free thought; when they appoint a certain party, they pose as if they are glorying and promoting the party which may result to negative perception and attitude that results to issues of adjustments.
When appointed, the appointee should be allowed to consult his immediate family members, friends and colleagues. The offer should define all aspects of the assignment like benefits, functions, family, the duration of the assignment, and what next after the accomplishment of the assignment (Shaffer, Harrison and Gilley, 1999).
When the exercise involves choosing an external person whom the company has not had a working experience with, the right approach is to handle the process as any other recruitment but some special attributes placed on the expatriate like any foreign experience, the nationality and the existence of proven track record.
The company should understand that the expatriate will have to consume company resources by virtual of his employment over and above the agreed salary or contact fee, thus there is need to ensure that the best candidate has been chosen.
At the preparing and planning stage, there is one thing that is outstanding and a fact, the expatriate must be willing to be deployed in the foreign mission; the psychological preparedness starts with the acceptance and embracing of the task. When an expatriate moves at his own free will, then ensuring that he adjusts is fast and more effective.
Mentoring, Coaching, preparing, and psychological preparation
Candidates chosen should be mentored, Coached, and prepared by the company; the process is wide and depends with the mission, experience of the candidate, and the country of venture.
In the case the candidate has an experience in the country of venture (return expatriates), the preparation may not be so intense since he is aware of what to expect; when preparing the candidates, those people close to the person should be involved, they include people like the family, close friends, personal mentors, and colleagues.
Psychological preparedness involves touching almost all corners of someone’s life to ensure they adjust effectively; they may involve the services of a counsellor to work on the mind part of the expatriates as well as friends to support the person, and the family.
The main subject to learn in this stage is cross-cultural differences that the expert is likely to face in his assignment. If there are people who have similar experiences, they should be consulted to give in-depth and informed information to the potential assignee.
Preparing involves offering the expatriate and the family with cultural intelligence skills to be able to live in harmony in the foreign country and adjust effectively, if the country uses a different language than the language that the expert understands, measures should be put in place to ensure that the expert and the team learn the language.
When training such things like language, those people whom the expatriates’ will move with should also be a party to the training, the people may involve spouse and children (Shaffer, Harrison and Gilley, 1999).
Mentorship, pilot survey and initial orientation
This stage only happens after the company has been satisfied that the candidate and the parties involved have been psychologically prepared; then a mentor should be looked for to facilitate in preparing the concerned party.
A mentor should be a person who have had an experience with a foreign mission successfully if possible in the country of the mission; the role of the mentor is to discuss and share his experience in the foreign country or mission in the efforts of widening the thinking capacity of the person and offering a different experience.
In the case the company has an establishment already running in the foreign country, it is crucial for the company to plan the sending of a mentor to the expatriate, the mentor may be a person in the management of the company or someone with a pool of knowledge that he can prepare the expatriate effectively.
After spending some time and bonding with the mentor, they are then supposed to visit the country of assignment; this may be the first visit if the expatriate has never had an experience with the country of mission (Tayeb, 2005).
The visit is crucial and plays an important role in the entire adjustment; when in the visit, the expert get to learn, feel and experience some of the things that he had been trained and advised on; he is able to create a certain perception, attitude and feeling about the county and the people in general.
It should be noted that the report from the visit (informal), will go a long was in creating a certain perception to his children, spouse, friends and people who matters in the mission. There are sometimes that after the mission the expatriate may wish to withdraw from the mission, he should be listened to (Harzing, 1999).
Physical relocation stage
After all plans have been made, the final second final stage of the process of relocation; MNCs should take the responsibility of relocating the expatriate with the family if they are going together; they should be guaranteed that all things are in order.
The first few days may be time to orient oneself with the new environment, thus the company should not expect the expatriate to be working, and some finances should be provided for basic social things like shopping, clubbing and exercise. If there are kids, they should be mentored to develop new friends and mix with the new environment (Briscoe and Schuler, 2004).
In the case that there was a foreign company; the management in the company should be encouraging and supportive of the expert, they should give him well welcome and guide him on how the country operates and the way he should conduct himself.
Social function and team building are important in orienting and relaxing the environment that the expert is working. Maintain a mentor is important since he is likely to be free with the expatriate so he or she can be able to keep the expatriate company all through.
There are times that an expatriate may have issues to express or feels that the set targets are far from being attained as he had expected.
These situations require the intervention of top management; when operating in the international arena, a company has to manage a diverse work force; managing diverse human capital has continued to be a challenge to human resources managers (Scullion and Starkey, 2000).
Effective training and performance evaluation
One major role that strategic international human management (SIHM) plays is to manage diverse human capital performance; performance management is a continuous process through which the output of human capital is gauged to ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner.
After the expatriate have settled and started working, there is need for an effective appraisal and evaluation method to ensure that his performance level can be gauged irrespective of the operating environment.
There is the possibility that the adjustment was not effective thus during appraisal, areas of future training and mentoring will be established. The outcome after a certain period and the strategies set by the expatriate and team should be effectively evaluated to ensure they are in course.
The appraisal takes the same way like in normal employees appraisal, however there may be some problems encountered by the team, which they had not anticipated (Brewster, Sparrow and Vernon, 2007).
When evaluating expatriate performance, there is need to involve some social factors like culture shocks, loneliness, and hangovers and homesick, to ensure that the appraisal result can be effective and offer such sound information that can result to improvement of the expatriates roles.
When appraising an expatriate, management have the role of ensuring that issues that he has brought are address appropriately, training should be continuous and areas that the expatriate needs self improvement addressed.
There are high chances of stressing moments in the working life of the expatriate, policies to psychologically support the expatriate, his or her spouse and offspring should be enacted, in some cases, it may involve the foreign mission of the country (Edwards and Ferner, 2002).
Motivational measures should be put in place to ensure that employees are loyal to the organization and they work efficiently. This ranges from attractive salaries or/and benefits, to developing a good working environment. This ensures that employees are retained as assets in the organization (Bratton and Gold, 1999).
International human resources management should ensure they have the right number of employees in foreign companies; there are three method of deploying in foreign outlets, use of expatriates, localization, and use of third country employees.
When using expatriates, the company should enact policies that facilitate quick and effective adjustments or the expatriates; when they adjust fast, they become an asset to the company with ease.
An effective expatriate deployment strategy has five main stages as preparing and planning, coaching and mentorship, pilot survey and initial orientation, relocation and orientation, and effective performance management.
An effective adjustment program should focus on the expatriate, the family, close friends, colleagues and any other person who will be affected by the relocation; they should be prepared psychologically using experts like counsellors and mentors.
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