Talent Mobility: Identifying Talent Pre-Assignment 04.18.2016 | Ellie Sullivan

Last month, I partnered with Mark Frederick of IOR to present a webinar on the alignment of workforce mobility and talent management. As a follow-up to that session, Mark has written a guest post for our blog that expounds upon some of the concepts raised during the webinar. Specifically, the critical but often overlooked practice of assignment candidate selection.

The hallmark of a savvy Talent Mobility professional and department is behaving both strategically and proactively. One of the more neglected areas of Global Mobility support is on the front end of international assignments. Too often, candidates are chosen quickly without adequate decision making and then whisked away into support services before they leave the country.

A stronger, more strategic approach is to build talent pools of employees who would be ideal candidates for a global assignment. This type of process is all about identifying talent proactively, and the best place to start is with the business unit leaders. Mobility professionals are often “invisible” to the business units, so reaching out to them proactively will not only let them know who you are, but also brand you as a strategic business partner within the organization. Ask the business unit leaders to identify the talent they have that they think would be both interested and qualified for an international assignment and capture that group in a database.

Now that you have an initial talent pool, this is an ideal time to narrow the field some more using assessment tools. You could consider using a self-assessment tool that gives an employee a good idea of what is involved in an international assignment. This really helps employees and their families decide for themselves if such an experience would be right for them. The SAGE (Self-Assessment for Global Endeavors) is a great tool for such a purpose and gives feedback to the employee and her/his spouse as to how ready and qualified they would be for an international assignment. This tool measures things like Sociability, Emotional Strength and Flexibility along with areas like Language Ability and Motivation to Learn Another Language. Having a coaching debrief based on this type of self-selection tool really helps develop better employee “fit” for international assignments.

Yet another way to build a strong candidate pool is to work with Talent Management and/or Leadership Development and apply a more competency based assessment like the GCI (Global Competencies Inventory). This type of tool helps employees who are considered “high potential” or leadership candidates in a succession plan identify their strengths and areas for development living and working internationally. Such a strength finding tool is particularly helpful when making decisions about sending a candidate to a particular culture, like China, where relationship building is key for success. If a candidate has lower scores in areas like Relationship Interest and Interpersonal Engagement, either a different candidate could be positioned for the assignment or development work could be done with the candidate to strengthen those areas before departure.

The key is to start applying strategic and proactive effort at the front end of international assignments and offering internal business partners some solutions that can help them with their decision making about their talent traveling globally, which has become one of the best ways to develop the global leaders that companies need to stay both profitable and innovative in what is an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

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Written by Ellie Sullivan


Ellie Sullivan, SCRP, SGMS-T, has over 30 years of experience overseeing critical mobility advisory initiatives, including policy benchmarking, proprietary research and tracking global trends and best practices. She is also the creator of our proprietary Optimization Lab format, which brings together Weichert SMEs and client stakeholders for day-long workshops to analyze current program challenges, identify solutions and create a road map to the ideal future state.

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