How do you measure the success of your international assignments
in creating and growing value for your organisation?
In spite of the good intentions of most planning for international
assignments, research shows that a number of assignments actually
reduce rather than create organisational value.
Too often international assignments
fail and evidence shows that:
- Assignees leave after their assignment
- Assignments end prematurely
- Employees refuse international assignments
- Assignees return to jobs that do not use their skills
- The estimated cost of a failed assignment is 2.5 times the
annual salary cost
Perhaps the greatest loss of business
value occurs at the completion of an international assignment.
This most commonly arises in one of two ways;
- First from failure to sustain the impact that the executive
made during the assignment, and
- Second from the loss of know how and proprietary knowledge as
a result of failing to retain the executive when they return home.
Even though assignments are often for business critical projects,
in many instances organisations fail
- Develop a robust value generating skills framework
- Set clear key performance indicators for assignees and all stakeholders
- Have a coherent strategy to measure the link between skills
capability, assignment roles and compensation packages.
In our view, for key executives, it is frequently the traditional
process and approach to international employee mobility that undermine
the very objectives they are intended to support.
All too often, international assignment management is focused purely
on policy, cost and logistics. In fact, given that the policies
usually relate to costs and logistics, and logistics are simply
one category of cost, international assignment management can easily
become a cost control exercise. While cost control is clearly an
important consideration, it ignores by far the most important component
of international executive mobility which is about growth
and value creation measured by assignee satisfaction and programme
By contrast, a value-centric approach views the international assignment
as a critical value generating business
initiative in which the assignee is the engine of value creation.
With this approach the costs of the assignment are no longer viewed
on a stand alone basis as a number to be reduced but instead treated
as one important component of an overall investment
Furthermore, identification of the
value generating potential of the initiative that the assignee
will be responsible for provides a clear framework for incentive
components of the assignment package.
In constructing the value equation underpinning an international
assignment business case it is also essential to consider the value
contribution that the executive is currently making as well
as how they will contribute value following the completion of the
As a key business executive, the prospective assignee will already
be responsible for considerable value
generating activities, such as management of a business unit
or responsibility for key clients. In seeking to transfer them to
new international responsibilities it is critical to ensure that
the new value creation activities do not occur to the detriment
of the existing value generating activities.
International assignment management must therefore involve local
transition management to ensure that existing sources of
value are sustained and grown. Transitional arrangements may need
advance preparation or involve establishing means by which the executive
can retain involvement in certain activities, for example by maintaining
contact with certain key client relationships.
Both problems require careful advance planning, regular review
and assessment with continued evaluation
of the drivers of value and the executive’s role in
coordinating and growing value.
Dissipation of value from the initiative following the return of
the executive can be avoided by careful transition
planning, perhaps by including some limited continuing role
for the executive. In addition, linking the executive’s incentive
package to sustained value growth will encourage the executive to
focus on embedding skills, processes or other value drivers into
the initiative, rather than on short term results.
Today an organisation’s proprietary knowledge is more essential
than ever before. Loss of a key individual could result in lost
value in many ways including lost know-how and the loss of clients
and employees that choose to follow the executive elsewhere. Such
losses may often represent gains to a competitor!
A key to improving the success of your assignments is that you
understand the interaction between corporate strategy objectives
for assignments and assignment management strategic and operational
Therefore, we recommend you undertake a strategic
review of your assignment management to evaluate how you
measure the impact on the return on your investment in your programme
in terms of:
- Bottom line impact for home and host operations
- Organisational growth
- Employee satisfaction & retention
A strategic review will focus on:
- Assignment strategy, metrics and process plan
- Stakeholder sign-off on assignment plan
- Assignment growth plan proposals
- Assignment value growth actions
The objectives of the review are to help you better manage the
success of your international assignments in terms of value creation
and growth, not just cost control and transactional management.
If you would like an initial consultation, please call or email