If I could pin-point one area of difficulty when it comes to managing assignments it would be compliments paid to employees working internationally. Anyone who travels internationally for work on a consistent basis will inevitably be paid complements. One of the highest being, you should work here in this country!
It's a wonderful complement, but it could lead to an employee relations issue. Yet it goes on, because people are people. Most of the time, though, it's an empty compliment that can't be followed through on. For many reasons, none of which have to do with the person's capabilities.
One should instead add caveats to the statement, I would like you to work here in this country...
- if we had the budget;
- if it were up to me;
- if I were the right one to make it happen;
- if I could get approval;
- if it made sense to the organization.
I don't honestly know if this happens more in one country culturally than another. From what I have learned, I would say that Americans may be guilty of the sin of making empty promises on the alter of paying a high compliment.
In my role as Expatriate Manager, I would occasionally receive calls from a employees who wanted to learn more about the global mobility policy after someone spoke to them, in passing, about the possibility of working abroad. A natural next step to an effective employee.
Not only would it mean time spent in conducting a detailed briefing on the policy, occasionally it would mean taking up the work of damage control. Also, by offering the briefing, it inevitably sets other 'balls' in motion. More questions are raised than answered. I've seen people begin looking for areas to live, international schools to send children to, when and how to market and sell homes, etc., only to find there is no means to send them on assignment.
What a let-down it can be when one is, in a way, offered the opportunity to work abroad to learn that there is nothing to back it up.
Compliments cost nothing, yet many pay dear for them.
- Thomas Fuller